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Friends of Grampian Stones

Friends of Grampian Stones

Ancient Regality of Inverurie & The Garioch

Friends of Grampian Stones

in the Garioch (pron.gee-ree) excerpt from an Historical information booklet produced in 1999 by the Inverurie Burgh Trades - available seasonally from Tourism outlets and at all major business premises in the town - used with permission.

©1999 by Marian Youngblood

Strategically, Inverurie seems oddly situated in a flood-plain surrounded by rising hills overshadowed by the classical mountain of Bennachie. Its origins tell a story pre-Industrial age, pre-Reformation, pre-medieval, prehistoric. When, 5000 years ago, the Garioch's first farmers chose to settle, grow food, protect their families from bear, boar and wolves, build sacred stone circles to measure and celebrate the seasons, they were not thinking of strategy, but a sacred sense of place. What became the royal burgh of Inverurie, literally 'at the mouth or meeting of the Urie', was chosen because of its massive water resource and rich land, but also because it was a safe crossing.

Fully 3,500 years later the indigenous Picts, descendants of those first farmers, continuing a tradition of working stone, placed a carved symbol stone in the River Don at the Stanners, its safest crossing point - its meaning clear to all: when the salmon symbol could be seen on its face, the ford was passable; when the fish was not visible, the water was too deep.

The prehistory of the Garioch has been treated as mysterious, laced with folklore, denounced at the Reformation, and linked to superstition, ignorance and evil. At the end of the second millennium of the Christian era, what emerges after the dust has settled is a history of a people closely tied to bountiful land, working with weather and seasons to make it fruitful.

Double disc & Z-rod Pictish symbol stone ©MCNagahiro
Double disc & Z-rod Pictish symbol stone ©MCNagahiro
Pictish symbol stone in Inverurie's 'Castle Yards' - site of the medieval castle of David, Earl of Huntingdon & the Garioch ©MCNagahiro

Early settlements on Corsman and Dilly Hills and Maiden Castle on the slopes of Bennachie, protected from wild beasts, gave way to a palisaded settlement around the Bass, the medieval Castle Yards, site of the earliest church. Here and at Brandsbutt, Pictish missionaries from the late AD7th century preached and converted inhabitants, inscribing crosses or names of early saints in ogham on carved stones. Later, when the 9th century Scots kingdom overran Pictland, more elaborate cross-carved stones, like the Maiden Stone at Pittodrie, were erected to declare the accepted religion. An early-Historic mound, the Cunninghillock, traditionally the burial place of Northern Pictish king Aedth (d.AD878 at the hands of King Grig, founder/architect of Aberdeen harbour, d.AD889), stands protected in a private garden in the older part of the town. A portion of the original market cross formerly in the Kintore Arms courtyard, is preserved at the Masonic Hall, whose medieval chairs were said to have been made from oak beams of Earl David's 12th century castle on the Bass.

From earliest times Scots kings and nobles resided at Inverurie, making royal progresses through the Northern kingdom : Indulf died at Cullen (AD962) protecting his court from marauding 'Danes'. The Norse never succeeded in invading central Aberdeenshire or the Garioch, thus leaving us with a fine array of intact placenames from earlier Pictish and Gaelic descent. Macbeth (d.AD1057), Malcolm III and Queen Margaret all made progresses (d. AD1093); David, Earl of Huntingdon and the Garioch, held his 12th century castle on the Bass under Bartolf constable of Enrowri.

Fortunately, responsible planning in the 1980s and 1990s has ensured protection of the Garioch's monuments, encouraging an interest in its unique history. back to Inverurie images

List of historic and prehistoric places to visit:

Bass & Pictish horse and symbol stones, Castle Yards NJ 780 206
Brandsbutt (Stonefield) Pictish symbol stone with ogham NJ 759 224
Cunninghillock burial mound NJ 774 208
Druidsfield, Crichie ritual enclosure & Pictish symbol stone NJ 779 196
Inverurie Cross NJ 777 215
Kinkell St. Michael's medieval church NJ 785 190
Kintore symbol stone, Aboyne Formaston Cross Slab, Carnegie Museum, Market Square

The Garioch
Balquhain Recumbent Stone Circle & quartz outlier stone NJ735 240
Balquhain medieval keep NJ 632 237
Bourtie Kirk Pictish symbol stone, 14thC effigies NJ804 248
Candle Hill, Insch fallen stone circle NJ 599 299
Candle Hill, Oyne Recumbent Stone Circle NJ 659 267
Candle Hill, Old Rayne Neolithic Stone Circle NJ 680 280
Drimmies Pictish symbol stone NJ 742 235
Dunnydeer Iron Age vitrified hillfort & 13thC castle gable NJ 612 281
Easter Aquhorthies Recumbent Stone Circle NJ 732 207
Gowk Stane, Oyne remains of stone circle NJ 677 257
Insch St. Drostan's kirk & 12thC inscribed stone, High Street NJ 634 281
Kintore Kirk Pictish symbol stone NJ 793 162
Kirkton of Bourtie Recumbent Stone Circle NJ 800 248
Loanhead of Daviot Recumbent Stone Circle NJ 747 288
Logie House Garden 3 Pictish symbol stones NJ 703 258
Maiden Castle prehistoric settlement & causeway NJ 694 244
Maiden Stone 9thC Scots cross-slab with symbols NJ 703 247
Mither Tap o' Bennachie Iron Age 'hillfort' stone enclosure NJ 682 223
Picardy Stone, Pictish symbol stone, Myreton NJ 609 303
Stonehead Recumbent Stone Circle, Insch NJ 600 287

Friends of Grampian Stones is a non-profit charitable organization registered in Scotland with the Capital Taxes Office number ED/455/89/JP
©1999-2000Friends of Grampian Stones
Marian Youngblood, Editor

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