Delve into Aberdeenshire's rich archaeological past with refreshed trails trilogy

With the days getting lighter as we leave winter behind and head towards Spring, why not take the opportunity to get outside and discover Aberdeenshire’s fascinating heritage?  

You can explore more than 4,000 years of history with our Archaeology Trails, which will guide you through time – and across Aberdeenshire – to some of the region’s most interesting sites.  

Each leaflet guides you to what we consider the best and most accessible sites of each type, which are also free to visit: Stone Circles, Pictish Stones and Historic Churches.  

Information is included on the history of each site and how to get there, allowing you to create your own unique tours across Aberdeenshire.  

How about some town centre sightseeing? St Congan’s Church in Turriff, Longside Parish Church, St Drostan’s Church in Insch, St Palladius’ Chapel in Auchenblae and Kincardine O’Neil Old Church are all within walking distance of their respective town centres.  

You can also find Pictish Stones in the urban landscape. Across Inverurie you can visit the Brandsbutt Stone, Broomend of Crichie Stone, and four carved stones in the old Inverurie Churchyard. At Kintore, a Pictish Stone stands “hidden in plain sight” at the entrance to Kintore Parish Church, while at Fyvie, four Pictish Stones are built into the church itself! 

If you prefer wide open landscapes, Tomnaverie stone circle offers a superb panorama of the Howe of Cromar while Easter Aquhorthies stone circle provides a wonderful vista of the Garioch countryside framed by the Bennachie hill range.  

For outstanding coastal views, St Mary’s Church at Cowie offers a sweeping view of the Stonehaven coastline, crowned by the temple-like Stonehaven War Memorial. Enjoy the outlook across the Loch of Strathbeg from St Mary’s Chapel at Rattray.

The loch is now a peaceful location which is home to an RSPB wildlife reserve, but was once a bustling military base used during the First World War for ‘flying boats’, with an airfield created on the loch-side which was used throughout the Second World War. 

Looking for a more strenuous adventure? Try Clune Hill stone circle, west of Banchory, or Whitehill stone circle, east of Alford. Both require an uphill walk of 1.5 – 2km on marked trails, and both also offer excellent wildlife spotting opportunities. 

Or how about a visit to Kinord Cross, west of Aboyne? Enjoy spectacular views across Loch Kinord along the 1.3km sign-posted walk to this ornately-carved Class III Pictish stone and take the opportunity to discover some of the other Kinord walking trails while you’re there.

Councillor Peter Argyle, chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, said: “Although many of our region’s churches are no longer in ecclesiastical use, they remain truly fascinating places to visit and illustrate the rich architectural heritage of Aberdeenshire.” 

Vice-chair Councillor John Cox said: “The mystery surrounding stone circles and Pictish stones is one which has enthralled people for generations and we are fortunate to have so many fine examples in our midst. 

“Not only can visitors get up close to view these wonderful examples, their very locations provide tremendous walks and some stunning views across Aberdeenshire.” 

Use the Aberdeenshire Archaeology Trails as your start point for discovering more of Aberdeenshire’s heritage – what will be your favourite site? 

The Aberdeenshire Archaeology Trails leaflets are available online on Aberdeenshire Council’s website at:

http://bit.ly/AbshireHistoricChurches

http://bit.ly/AbshirePictish

http://bit.ly/AbshireStoneCircles  

Printed copies are available from visitor information centres, libraries and visitor attractions across Aberdeenshire, or on request from Aberdeenshire Council Archaeology Service (https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/ archaeology). 

Share your visits with Aberdeenshire Council across our social media platforms using #AbshireArchaeology