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Delving into Aberdeenshire's rich archaeological past with refreshed trails trilogy

By David Porter

With the days getting lighter as we leave winter behind and head towards Spring, locals are being encouraged to take the opportunity to get outside and discover Aberdeenshire’s fascinating heritage.

St Marys, Rattray
St Marys, Rattray

More than 4000 years of history are covered with Aberdeenshire's Archaeology Trails, which offer a guide through time and across Aberdeenshire to some of the region’s most interesting sites.

Each of the updated leaflets guides readers to what are consider the best and most accessible sites of each type, which are also free to visit: Stone Circles, Pictish Stones and Historic Churches.

Information is included on the history of each site and how to get there, allowing folk to create thier own unique tours across Aberdeenshire.

Town centre sightseeing includes St Congan’s Church in Turriff, Longside Parish Church, St Drostan’s Church in Insch, St Palladius’ Chapel in Auchenblae and Kincardine O’Neil Old Church all of which are within walking distance of their respective town centres.

Pictish Stones also turn up in the urban landscape.

Across Inverurie you can visit the Brandsbutt Stone, Broomend of Crichie Stone, and four carved stones in the old Inverurie Churchyard.

At Kintore, a Pictish Stone stands “hidden in plain sight” at the entrance to Kintore Parish Church, while at Fyvie, four Pictish Stones are built into the church itself.

Tomnaverie Stone Circle
Tomnaverie Stone Circle

For those that prefer wide open landscapes, Tomnaverie stone circle offers a superb panorama of the Howe of Cromar while Easter Aquhorthies stone circle provides a wonderful vista of the Garioch countryside framed by the Bennachie hill range.

For outstanding coastal views, St Mary’s Church at Cowie offers a sweeping view of the Stonehaven coastline, crowned by the temple-like Stonehaven War Memorial.

Enjoy the outlook across the Loch of Strathbeg from St Mary’s Chapel at Rattray.

The loch is now a peaceful location which is home to an RSPB wildlife reserve, but was once a bustling military base used during the First World War for flying boats, with an airfield created on the loch-side which was used throughout the Second World War.

Looking for a more strenuous adventure then try Clune Hill stone circle, west of Banchory, or Whitehill stone circle, east of Alford.

Both require an uphill walk of 1.5 – 2km on marked trails, and both also offer excellent wildlife spotting opportunities.

Kinord Cross
Kinord Cross

Or how about a visit to Kinord Cross, west of Aboyne which enjoys spectacular views across Loch Kinord along the 1.3km sign-posted walk to this ornately-carved Class III Pictish stone and take the opportunity to discover some of the other Kinord walking trails while you’re there.

Councillor Peter Argyle, chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, said: “Although many of our region’s churches are no longer in ecclesiastical use, they remain truly fascinating places to visit and illustrate the rich architectural heritage of Aberdeenshire.”

The Aberdeenshire Archaeology Trails leaflets are available online on Aberdeenshire Council’s website at:




Printed copies are available from visitor information centres, libraries and visitor attractions across Aberdeenshire, or on request from Aberdeenshire Council Archaeology Service.

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