The Bennachie Landscape Project: Community Connections in the North-East of Scotland

The Bennachie Landscape Project: Community Connections in the North-East of Scotland

A collaborative venture between the Bailies of Bennachie and the University of Aberdeen, this project focuses on past and present community relationships with land, resources and society in one of north-east Scotland's most celebrated landscapes: the hill of Bennachie and its environs. Previous research has demonstrated a wealth of multi-period archaeological remains, from a Pictish power centre to a nineteenth century crofting community, however, surprisingly little archaeological and historical research has been undertaken, presenting a unique opportunity to put historical communities into their landscape context. At the same time, contemporary community groups have a strong interest in managing and developing opportunities in this historic environment and so a second major plank of this research focuses on engaging local people to create a long-term sustainable strategy for community involvement.

Initial research has focused on the archaeology and history of the ‘colony’ settlement – celebrated in the north-east for having been a site of tension between nineteenth-century crofter-colonists and neighbouring landowners. Future work will examine the development of medieval estates, changes in agricultural practice and how these tie into societal changes more broadly. These broad areas of academic interest provide a platform to involve and develop future interests among the local community. In doing so, we expect to be taken in new and unexplored research directions.

Project Partners and Funding

Project Partners

  • Bennachie LandscapesJackson Armstrong (History, University of Aberdeen)
  • Siobhan Convery (Library and Historic Collections, University of Aberdeen)
  • Elizabeth Curtis (Education, University of Aberdeen)
  • Neil Curtis (Museums, University of Aberdeen)
  • Rick Knecht (Archaeology, University of Aberdeen)
  • Gordon Noble (Archaeology, University of Aberdeen)
  • Jeff Oliver (Archaeology, University of Aberdeen)
  • James Schofield (Geography, University of Aberdeen)
  • Colin Shepherd (Independent Scholar/ Forestry Commission Scotland)
  • Jo Vergunst (University of Aberdeen)
  • The Bailies of Bennachie
  • The Forestry Commission Scotland
  • The Royal Commission for the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland


This project has been previously funded through the following programmes:

  • AHRC: Connected Communities, Community Heritage Grant, 2012 (G Noble PI)
  • AHRC: Development Grant, 2013 (J Oliver PI)
  • Oliver, JM., Noble, G., Shepherd, C., Knecht, R., Milek, KB. & Sveinbjarnarson, OG. (2013). 'Historical Archaeology and the 'Colony': Reflections on fieldwork at a 19th-century settlement in rural Scotland'. in C Shepherd (ed.), Society and Ecology in the History of North-East Scotland: Bennachie and the Garioch. Bennachie Landscapes, no. 2, The Bailies of Bennachie, Chapel of Garioch, pp. 103-124.
  • Oliver, JM. (2014). 'Tales of eviction and the archaeology of the Colony: The Bennachie Landscapes Project'. p. 12-13, History Scotland, 14 1.