Signs exist that indicate a settlement has been in place since the Stone Age; hut circles, souterrains and standing stones remain to this day in and around the settlements of Towie, Glenbuchat and Glenkindie. Through time thirteen different castles, not all now visible, show that the character of the region ranges through all centuries.

The support of Historic Scotland for a number of these sites shows the potential of the area to explore its interesting and colourful past. For further information on Historic Scotland's exciting Events Programme, which helps to bring their properties to life, telephone the numbers given below, or visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk

Castles

Glenbuchat Castle

Glenbuchat Castle, Glenbuchat.

Off A97 Strathdon-Mossat road. An ancient seat of the Gordons built in 1590. Its last laird played a notable part in the Jacobite Risings. Car park and Castle open at all times.

See Historic Scotland website.

kildrummycastle

Kildrummy Castle, Kildrummy.

Ruins of a 13th century stone courtyard castle modelled on the Chateau de Coucy, Lyons, France. The complete layout of domestic buildings remains intact. Off A97 Mossat-Glenkindie road.

019755 71331 or visit the Historic Scotland website.

Corgarff Castle

Corgarff Castle, Corgarff.

Restored 16th century castle with star shaped ramparts set amid spectacular scenery. It played a prominent part in the Jacobite Risings and its last military use was to house the English Redcoats, who had the unpopular task of combating whisky smuggling. Off A939 Ballater-Tomintoul road.

019756 51460 or visit the Historic Scotland website.

Motte and Bailey

Motte and Bailey

For those interested in more ancient signs of our history the area surrounding the Doune of Invernochty, approached from the car park at Bellabeg, will offer a fine vantage point from which to contemplate the atmosphere of the strath.

The Doune was the most important messuage (stronghold) of the Normanised Mormaers of Mar. The Doune is an oval-shaped mound of residual mass of fluvial gravel. Surrounded by a deep ditch, the summit has remains of a curtain-shaped wall 1.8m thick with an entrance to the south. In the wall are remains of a Norman chapel which served as a parish church until the mid 17th century. A unique piece of Norman military engineering.

Lonach...A Gathering Without Equal

Lonach Highland Games

Upper Donside is the location of a unique event each year on the fourth Saturday of August. Nowhere else will you see the March of the Clansmen. The Men of Lonach, in full Highland dress and armed with pikes and Lochaber battleaxes, march around the arena, having already accomplished a long march early in the morning round the homes of the patrons of the Gathering. At Lonach, the games are supported by leading athletes, pipers and dancers who take part in traditional events in heavy and light athletics, and piping and dancing competitions. This is a friendly and warm gathering of the clansmen and friends, whose enthusiasm make the games an outstanding success.

Lonach Society 019756 51233

See also www.lonach.org and The Lonach Hall

Language

Words evoke the whole spectrum of human experience and feelings. Doric is more than words. It is attitudes, conveying the very relationships of man and nature in this hard-won corner of Scotland, the labour and respect for the land, the concerns and priorities of cottars and farmers, love and laughter. Enthusiasts during the past hundred years have devotedly collected and preserved the rhymes, folk songs, literature and music, adding their own contributions to the North East's enduring wealth of poetry, prose and music. Doric is more than the tongue of ancestors. It is the living heart of a people.

...and nearby

Should you be interested in exploring further back, the surrounding communities can take you on a trail that includes an earth house and stone circle at Tarland, the Peel Ring at Lumphanan, and the rich neolithic sites in the Mains of Howie on the connecting road to Deeside.