Visit Gardenstown and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Gardenstown, Aberdeenshire. The Bay of Gamrie in which this village lies is a geological sport in which old red sandstone usurps the domain of clay slates. As spectacle, it is the high point of a 15 mile stretch of coastline of peculiar character that begins with Macduff and ends on the western outskirts of Rosehearty. In this world apart, cliffs are not merely cliffs. They are mountainous green ledges that rise in waves out of the plain of Buchan and soar as high as 600 ft to confront the Moray Firth. Only at three points — at Aberdour, Pennan, and Gamrie Bay — is the resulting wall of rock sufficiently broken to permit of human settlement.
It is 120 years since Alexander Whyte, the parochial schoolmaster of Gamrie, described Gardenstown, but no one has ever done it better. “At the bottom of the bay,” he says, “the rocks, which are steep and rugged on either side, retire a little, leaving room for the village of Gardenstown and no more, and then they rise with just as much bend from the perpendicular as allows mould to lie upon them, which is closely covered with green grass, except here and there a winding footpath like a staircase, on which few can venture without fear and trembling... So abrupt is the rising of the ground that a house of three stories has them all ground floors, one entrance being at the front, another at the back and a third at the end. On the east side of the Bay the little village of Crovie lies about a mile from Gardenstown, with one gable-end of the houses to the sea and the other to the land — and this last is bored into the bank — like a brood of young seafowl, nestling with their heads under their dam. Nearly at the same distance on the west side stands the old church and churchyard, on a ledge of the hill's brow, which one would think in equal danger of being smothered by the hill hanging over it, and of being undermined by the sea below.”
It is on the site of this ruined Church of St John the Evangelist, whose gable bears the startlingly improbable date 1004, that the human annals of Gamrie open with an invasion of horsemen.
The invaders were forced to a last stand and cut down to a man. “The Bloody Pits” is still the name of the site of the massacre. An observer who had visited the Kirk of St John, before it was abandoned as a place of worship in 1832, wrote: “I have seen the Norsemens skulls grinning horrid and hollow in the wall where they had been fixed directly east of the pulpit”. After the church was abandoned, the heads were pilfered bit by bit by sightseers, although one was recovered and placed in Banff Museum. There is of course an anonymity about skulls that renders their identification difficult.
Now roofless, the church of Gamrie has not been allowed to fall to pieces altogether. Indeed, a workman has inscribed on cement in a shored-up plaque: “Built 1004, repaired 1961”. But the oldest authentic monument inside commemorates “an honourable man, Patrick Barclay, laird of Tolly, and Janet Oglivy his spouse, who died January 6, 1547”.
The village of Gardenstown was founded by Alexander Garden of Troup in the year 1720. By 1842 the Rev. Thomas Wilson, the third in the direct line of his family to be minister of the parish, presided over a community in which an intense family spirit had developed. “With few exceptions,” we are told, “the families of the whole of the farms on the estate of Troup are related in some way to each other. This system of clanship is carried still farther among the fishing population of the villages, most of whom in Crovie or Gardenstown are of the name of Watt or Wiseman, so that they are obliged to have recourse to nicknames for the sake of distinction.” Ever since the traditional Fifie and Zulu fishing boats were superseded by steam drifters, the majority of Gardenstown men have sailed from Macduff or Fraserburgh, but they remain Gardenstown men for all that. Names of boats pass down from generation to generation.
Nearby towns: Banff, Fraserburgh, Macduff, Turriff
Nearby villages: Buchan, Crovie, Cuminestown, Cushnie, Dunlugas, Gamrie, Garmond, Kirktown of Alvah, Longmanhill, Mountblairy, New Aberdour, New Pitsligo, Newbyth, Pennan, Pittulie, Plaidy, Rosehearty, Strichen, Whitehills
Have you decided to visit Gardenstown or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Gardenstown bed and breakfast (a Gardenstown B&B or Gardenstown b and b)
- a Gardenstown guesthouse
- a Gardenstown hotel (or motel)
- a Gardenstown self-catering establishment, or
- other Gardenstown accommodation