Probus Club talk on Bennachie

Ellon Probus Club held their final meeting of 2014 when president Norman Davidson welcomed 27 members and guest speaker Jackie Cumberbirch, from the Forestry Commission Scotland.

Her talk was on the Bailies of Bennachie, a registered charity set up in 1973 to conserve the social and natural history of Bennachie. The hill is the highest point stretching over a land area of some four miles long.

Before 1859 the land around Bennachie was a commonty not fully controlled by landowners and people moved into the surrounding area, built crofts, and eked out a living free from having to pay any rent.

However, after 1859 the commonty was divided up by local landowners and the crofters evicted. One such crofter was Alexander Littlejohn, 84, who was allegedly carried out of his house on his bed and together with his family they watched as the roof was set alight and the walls pulled down.

In 2009, the Bennachie Landscape Project was started together with assistance from Aberdeen University, to carry out archaeological research of the area. Within the stone ruins of one croft, a burnt layer was found in the soil perhaps confirming the plight of Alexander Littlejohn.

Further research is being carried out in peat banks and also at an abandoned quarry. Peat was used as fuel by crofters and cores taken there give an idea of the soil and vegetation stretching back more than 7000 years.

Jackie gave a very interesting talk and said they are always on the look-out for new members. For further details contact www.bailiesofbennachie.co.uk

The vote of thanks was made by Gordon Mincher.