Visit Stonehaven and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire. Surrounded by higher land on three sides, and enclosed by Downie Point and Garron Point, two massive rocky headlands on South and North respectively, the once county town of Kincardineshire lies in a deeply indented bay astride the mouths of the Carron and the Cowie rivers. The main centre of the town is on a small coastal plain backed by a succession of terraces rising up to the inland plateau. The beach is shingle, but, apart from the absence of sand, Stonehaven has everything needful for a seaside holiday resort giving access to a charming rural hinterland. It has an attractive golf course on the grassy shelf along its northern cliffs; a splendid, heated open-air swimming pool; a large caravan site; plentiful recreation grounds; many fine hotels and boarding-houses; and a friendly intimacy that would be impossible in a larger resort.
Stonehaven is really an amalgam of two towns — on the one hand, the Old Town round the harbour South of the Carron, and immediately under the shadow of the massive old red sandstone cliffs of Downie Point; and, on the other, the New Town stretched out on the little plain and the terraces between the Carron and the Cowie, with Cowie Village (on the North of Stonehaven Bay) and its tiny harbour and rows of fisher cottages. The Cowie Village of today, picturesque “sea-toun” though it be, can have little relation to the original Cowie of the Middle Ages. It is a comparatively modern settlement. The old Cowie, it is claimed, was created a royal burgh by David I.
Stanehyve was the creation of that great master of towns and castles, George, 5th Earl Marischal, who also founded Peterhead. He had Old Stonehaven erected into a burgh of barony, which despite vicissitudes it remained until, in 1880, it was united with New Stone-haven, founded by Robert Barclay of Ury in 1797, to form the modern police burgh. It was this Earl Marischal, too, who built as a storehouse the Old Tolbooth at the harbour, which is the town's most precious link with its first beginnings. It is situated at the base of the North pier of the harbour, and, when it was restored, was opened by the Queen Mother as a museum and tea-room. The picturesque old building on the quay, with its crow-stepped gables, has looked out on all the most famous incidents in Stonehaven's colourful history. Like Cowie, Stanehyve was put to the flames by Montrose in 1645. In the ‘15 Rising, the Old Chevalier passed through Stonehaven and was proclaimed King as James VIII at the door of Fetteresso Castle, on the 2nd of January 1716. Then again, in the 345, James VIII was proclaimed at the Cross of Stonehaven by the Procurator Fiscal of the day.
It was this same man, incidentally, who in the Old Tolbooth itself, then in use as a courtroom and prison, superintended the branding of a woman and the baby at her breast with a red-hot iron. He was shot in the leg while escaping from Culloden, but was ultimately pardoned and resumed business as a lawyer in Stonehaven.
In 1748 three Episcopal clergymen from Stonehaven, Drumlithie, and Muchalls were tried and imprisoned in the Tolbooth for six months. During this period fishermen's wives from the havens along the coast were often seen trudging along the sea-beach with creels on their backs; in them were concealed babies to be christened by the jailed pastors through the stanchioned window of the Tolbooth. The scene at one of these christenings was depicted by the “literary painter” South West Brownlow in a famous canvas of 1865. Since this incident the Tolbooth has become something of a shrine to the Scottish Episcopal Church. They took part in its restoration, and one of its rooms became a “Church Room”.
The Barclays of Ury bought the estate of Arduthie for £1,500 in 1759. The site of the future New Town of Stonehaven was then largely moor-covered, with short heath, furze, and broom. To encourage settlers on a “New Town” on the North bank of the Carron, feus, each 1/8 acre, were given off in perpetuity. Real progress came in the first two decades of the 19th century, when the Old Town's harbour was much improved and herring fishing began. The New Town of Stonehaven has a very pleasant tree-lined square, where the Market Buildings were erected in 1827, surmounted by a steeple 130 ft high. The Town Hall, in Allardyce Street, dates from 1878. Mackie Academy, the outstanding secondary school in the county, dates from 1893.
Stonehaven, like Burghead and Lerwick, has its traditional mid-winter fire-festival. It takes place at midnight on Hogmanay, the 31st of December, and ushers in the New Year. It Consists of a march by the young men of the town, swinging fire-balls in the High Street. The fire-balls are carefully made according to an old recipe, and vary in size from a football to one twice as big. They consist of combustible materials encased in a sphere of wire-netting, and are swung round their heads by the marchers who promenade up one side of the High Street and down the other. The whole operation is a highly skilled performance, for which the actors are specially trained, and it seldom results in any casualties.
Nearby islands: Island of Unst
Nearby cities: Aberdeen
Nearby towns: Banchory, Brechin, Inverbervie, Laurencekirk, Montrose
Nearby villages: Arbuthnott, Auchinblae, Camphill, Cookney, Cove, Drumlithie, Dunnottar, Fetteresso, Findon, Fordoun, Garvock, Glenbervie, Gourdon, Hirn, Hobseat, Kinneff, Kirkton of Durris, Laurencekirk, Lerwick, Maryculter, Milltimber, Muchalls, Newtonhill, Old Aberdeen, Portlethen, Roadside, Scalloway, Skateraw
Have you decided to visit Stonehaven or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Stonehaven bed and breakfast (a Stonehaven B&B or Stonehaven b and b)
- a Stonehaven guesthouse
- a Stonehaven hotel (or motel)
- a Stonehaven self-catering establishment, or
- other Stonehaven accommodation