The Mearns and historic Kincardineshire is a great place if you are a history lover. We all know about Dunnottar Castle, which reportedly received over 110,000 visitors last year (and you should really go if you never have), but what else is there for history lovers to do in the Mearns and Kincardineshire? Thankfully, Mearns Matters are here with the answer.
1. Kinneff Old Kirk
This historic church is tucked away by the coast near Kinneff. It is a hidden gem in the area; famous for being the place where Scotland’s crown jewels were hidden from Oliver Cromwell as they were taken away from Dunnottar as he advanced in Scotland. The story goes that the jewels were smuggled from Dunnottar by the minister’s wife in a bundle of flax just before the castle surrendered to the English. They were then hidden away under the floorboards of the Kirk.
For more information, visit www.kinneffoldchurch.co.uk
2. Arbuthnott Church
Arbuthnott Church is one of the oldest churches in Scotland still in use for weekly worship and is dedicated to the memory of St Ternan. There is evidence that a church existed on this site even before the dedication of the chancel in 1242. Different parts of the building such as the bell tower and nave were then added around 1500. In the last 200 years, the church has seen much restoration after great decay and a fire in 1890.
The church is still in use and recently featured in the film Sunset Song.
For more information, you can visit www.arbuthnottbervieandkinneff.org.uk/arbuthnott-history.html
3. Arbuthnott House
Whilst in Arbuthnott you can visit Arbuthnott House, home to the Arbuthnott family for over 800 years. Having undergone its first full scale renovation in 250 years, the house is rich in history. Construction of the house began with a single storey stone-keep, started between 1240-1260, the foundations of which still make up part of the building. Since then, extensions have been added, most notably in 1754 when a Georgian front was added.
Tours can be booked by appointment, with the house being open to the public a few days every year.
For more information, you can visit www.arbuthnott.co.uk
4. Maggie Law Museum
The village of Gourdon is rich in maritime history. This traditional fishing port was home to one of the first inshore lifeboats, the Maggie Law, built in 1890. The boat is the centrepiece of the museum and housed in the old lifeboat shed. Before the construction of a lighthouse on the coast, the lives of many fishermen were claimed on this treacherous and rocky coast. The lifeboat was the community’s own solution to the hazards the fishing village faced. The museum is a fascinating place to visit and is open from 1.30pm to 4pm Thursday to Sunday during the summer.
For more information, visit www.maggielaw.co.uk
5. Ecclesgreig Castle
One of the lesser known castles in the area, Ecclesgreig is a mock gothic building which was rebuilt in the Victorian Era. It was however was gutted in the 1950s and used as a grain store to avoid heavy taxes on stately homes. It is said to have been part of the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, when he travelled the east coast of Scotland. Its crows nest tower particularly stands out. Whilst you cannot go into the castle, there are plenty of walks on the estate around it.
For more information, visit www.ecclesgreig.com
6. Scolty Tower
If you love walking, this one is definitely for you. Located at the top of Scolty Hill just outside Banchory, Scolty Tower was built in honour of General William Burnett who fought in the Napoleonic Wars alongside Wellington. The tower is almost 300m high with superb views in all directions: east down the Dee Valley towards Aberdeen and the North Sea; west to Morven, Mount Keen and Lochnagar; north towards Hill of Fare and Bennachie; and south to Kerloch, Clachnaben, and Mount Battock. You can walk from the centre of Banchory to the hill’s summit in around 45 minutes and the route is clearly marked, or you can drive up and there is a carpark at the entrance to Scolty Woodland Park.
For more information, visit https://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/visit/scolty
7. Tolbooth Museum
One of the oldest buildings in Stonehaven, the Tolbooth is run by a group of dedicated volunteers and is located at the Harbour. The original purpose of the building is thought to have been as a storehouse during construction on Dunnottar castle. It later had a courthouse on the top floor and a prison on the bottom. The museum has numerous local artefacts from around the area including the Inverbervie Stocks and a punishment device called the Crank.
For more information, visit http://www.stonehaventolbooth.co.uk/
Our list is by no means comprehensive, this is just a sample of some of the fantastic historic places to visit in the area, what did we miss? Leave a comment below letting us know.
If you’re looking for something to do over summer check out our list of the things to do in Stonehaven.