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Research unveils Bennachie's family history

By Kirsty Brown

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The remains of crofts on Bennachie were the first clues of the story of the Bennachie colonists – but census details, parish records and old photographs paint a picture of the individuals who carved a life for themselves on the hill.

For Scottish Archaeology Month the Bailies of Bennachie are producing four presentations on the 19th century Bennachie colonists.

This looks at what has been found out about the families who built the houses, quarried the stone and formed the Colony on the Commonty land on the lower slopes of the hill, and the three presentations can be found on the Bailies website ( www.bailiesofbennachie.co.uk/news )

Census records show the colonists eked out a livelihood from the hill and in the early days were virtually self sufficient.

Later they also worked away from the croft as farmers, labourers and builders of dry stone dykes, and by tracing births, marriages and deaths the family stories of the colonists can emerge.

Bailies Of Bennachie
Bailies Of Bennachie

Other insights are shown through entries in the Poor Law Manual for Scotland.

One entry in Feburary 1852 records a visit to a family on Bennachie saying “they were in great want of clothes, and that one of them had neither stockings or shoes”.

Bailies trustee Dave Peter said: “The archival records have managed to put faces to these people and show in more detail who they were and how they lived.

"By doing research into births, marriages and deaths of the colonists and searching for accounts from people who knew them we have formed a fuller picture of their lives.

"This presentation for Scottish Archaeology Month has pulled this information together.

"We hope this will provide more insight and value for the many visitors who follow the Colony Trail path from the Bennachie Visitor Centre.”

This is the third presentation out of four on the Bennachie colonists which will be released during this September.

The Bailies have also published a blog and presentation from first time archaeology volunteer Allan Will “Aargh!...aeology ?” in which he details his experiences of joining a dig on Bennachie.

Further updates are available on the Bailies Of Bennachie Facebook page.

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