The boundary of the Parish of Kintore was established 300 years ago in 1717, it continues largely unchanged as the current Kintore and District Community Council boundary. The only significant changes were Port Elphinstone being added to Inverurie in the late 19th century and Balbithan being added to Kintore in 2022.
Kintore District takes in almost 50 square kilometres from the River Don in the north, south to the boundary with Kinellar, taking in Balbithan, Crichie, Thainstone, Clovenstone, Cottown and Leylodge.
Kintore was one of the earliest Royal Burghs in Scotland. The "Early History of Kintore" states that the Royal Burgh status was granted by King Kenneth II in the 10th century. Other accounts say the declaration was by King Kenneth I (Kenneth MacAlpin) in the 9th century, A new Royal Charter was granted to Kintore by King James IV in 1506.
The town has clearly been a popular settlement since prehistoric times. Recent archaeological excavations show neolithic remains dating as far back as far as 5,000 years BC.
Archaeologists have found:
Gaelic was the spoken language in rural Aberdeenshire until the Middle Ages and the name Kintore comes from the Gaelic, Ceann-an-torr. "Ceann" means the head, or the end, and "Torr" which means a hill.
So the name signifies that the town was at the head or end of a hill – presumably Tuach Hill to the south of the town.
Although the formal status of Royal Burghs ceased in 1974, it is recorded in Hansard that Royal Burghs can continue to use the historic title.
The Town House in the centre of Kintore dates from 1747. Work began in 1737, soon after the Earl of Kintore was elected Provost and the cost of the construction was £850 Scots.
The Town House has served as Kintore Burgh Council chambers and offices, schoolhouse, court house and jail. In the past, parts of the building have also been used as a post office and shop.
The Town House stands on the old market stance on which the annual Marymass Fair was held.
Standing in front of the Town House is the Kintore 2000 millennium stone, which was unveiled on Hogmanay 2000. The stone was quarried at nearby Tom's Forest quarry.
An interesting detail is the Coat of Arms on the front of the Town House. It is the Coat of Arms of the Earl of Kintore's family – the Keiths. Quite appropriate, since it was the 18th century Earl of Kintore who built the Town House.
Action Kintore, Kintore’s community charity, is currently working on ambitious plans to bring the Town House back into use for the community.
Built in 1819, Kintore Parish Church was designed by the renowned Aberdeen architect Archibald Simpson. Inside is a 16th century sacrament house from the previous kirk.
In the burial grounds is one of the Pictish symbol stones and also a mort house. Taking its name from the French "mort", it was where the bodies were kept under the mort cloth, prior to burial. Body-snatching was still prevalent in the 18th century and the mort house kept the corpses relatively secure.
The gateway serves as Kintore's War Memorial.
Just to the west of the town centre is the site of the Deer's Den Roman marching camp, stretching out from the area round Kintore Primary School to west of the A96.
There are signs of considerable Roman activity and recent excavations have uncovered ovens which were used to feed the army a diet of what was, effectively, pizza! (Bread dough with various toppings!)
Although no-one really knows where it took place, some authorities believe that the battle of Mons Graupius - fought between the Romans and Caledonians in AD84 - took place on the north slopes of Bennachie. If so, the Roman camp in Kintore would have been near the front line.
Photo: Uncovering the stone floor of one of the Roman bread ovens
The Royal Burgh of Kintore's Coat of Arms has in its centre a "shield ensigned of a coronet proper to a Burgh Royal". Standing on either side are two black bulls with oak leaves around their necks.
The significance of this is the story that In the 9th or 10th century, at Tuach Hill in Kintore, the citizens of Kintore are said to have helped King Kenneth 1 or II to victory against an army of Danes. They did so by driving their cattle, covered in oak branches, at the Danish lines, turning the tide of the battle. A grateful king declared Kintore one of the earliest Royal Burghs.
The motto "Truth is Strength" is a response to the motto on the Keith Family (the Earls of Kintore) Coat of Arms, "Veritas Vincit" or "Truth Wins".
Boat of Kintore on the east side of the burgh, takes its name from the old ferry that used to ply across the Don. George Marnoch, or "Boatie Marnoch", the ferryman prior to the bridge being built, was a well known citizen in Kintore.
The ferry was replace by an Iron Bridge in 1882 . The last two red-hot rivets were driven by Kintore Provost Thomas Fraser and Dean of Guild James Scott.
The current bridge at Boat of Kintore dates from the 1980s and is similar in appearance tot he 1882 bridge.
Tuach Hill is probably the hill which gave Kintore its name. The hill itself is said to have a Druid circle, which can now be hardly traced and the King's Chair where the king watched his troops in battle.
On old maps an area near the summit of Tuach Hill is named “Gallow Top” – a spot no doubt well known to the person who lived in Hangman’s Croft, opposite Bridgealehouse on what is now Northern Road!
A mile to the west of Kintore stand the ruins of Hallforest Castle, built in the 13th or 14th Century. It was a hunting castle which took its name from the great forest in which King James IV hunted.
The forest, which lay between Kintore and Kemnay, is also recalled in street names such as Forest Road, Tom's Forest.
Mary Queen of Scots is known to have stayed at Hallforest in 1562. It is said that it was built by Robert the Bruce and was a former stronghold of the Keith earls of Kintore, now the property of the Earl of Kintore.
An oblong keep 48 feet by 30 feet, the walls are around seven foot thick and the castle in its current ruined state stands around 60 feet.
The Aberdeenshire Canal opened in 1805 with the aim of carrying cargo and passengers from Aberdeen to Port Elphinstone, which was at the time part of Kintore.
The canal was originally intended to be part of a longer route to link Aberdeen to Monymusk, with a branch from Inverurie to Insch. But by the time an enabling Act of Parliament was passed and finance raised, the Monymusk and Insch options were abandoned .
At Kintore, the canal entered the Royal Burgh running alongside The Rushlach, where some remnants of the canal can be seen. It then crossed School Road, at a house appropriately called Canal Cottage, before crossing Forest Road and heading towards Bridgealehouse. It then headed back to run alongside the River Don.
Writing in 1842, the Rev Robert Simpson said: "The Aberdeenshire canal terminates at Port Elphinstone in the parish of Kintore. This is a work of great importance. It has proved extremely beneficial to a large and populous tract of country. Its length from the harbour of Aberdeen to Port Elphinstone is 18 miles of which about a third lies within this parish (Kintore)."
But Robert Simpson sounded a note of caution on the financial front: "And though it has unquestionably accelerated improvement very much in this quarter, the shareholders receive but a low rate of interest on the money expended. The trade on the canal, however, is steadily increasing… There is a small wharf in the town of Kintore.”
It was unfortunate for the canal that, soon after opening, it faced increasing competition, for both goods and passengers, from the new Aberdeen to Inverurie turnpike road.
Indeed the Aberdeenshire Canal was never a financial success and in 1845 the Great North of Scotland Railway, which aimed to build a railway from Aberdeen to Inverness, approached the canal company to use the canal bed for their railway.
Aberdeenshire Council 2020 statistics show that manufacturing was the top employment category in Kintore with 19%. Professional, scientific and technical came second on 16%, construction third on 13%, transport and storage fourth on 13% and education fifth with 9%,
The Thainstone Centre of the ANM Group, at Thainstone, in Kintore, is the biggest livestock market in Scotland and one of the largest agricultural centres of its type in Western Europe.
Thomas Tait & Sons
The Thomas Tait & Sons paper mill at Thainstone, in Kintore,
operated for more than 150 years. It employed more than 500 people and produced 250,000 tons of paper per year – a lorry leaving the mill every 45 minutes on most days. Each day it produced enough paper to stretch from Kintore to Paris.
In 1989 the mill was taken over by Federal Paper Board and in 1996 that company became part of International Paper, closing the mill in 2009. Ironically some of the equipment from Thainstone is believed to be still in use in Russia, with the paper being imported into the UK.
Bruce's Camp and Shaw Hill
Bruce's Camp is on Shaw Hill, above Crichie. This is the highest point in Kintore, so it was an ideal site for a prehistoric hill fort, with a commanding view of the area.
Bruce's Camp was surrounded by a stone wall which would have been about 1.5 metres high. and there is some evidence to suggest a later wall inside this circle.
It is believed that the fort is likely to date from a similar time to the fort on the nearby Mither Tap on Bennachie. As a good surveillance and defensive location, possibly even for Robert the Bruce, from whom the camp takes its name.
Kinkell Church is an early 16th century church, near Keith Hall, it is in a ruined state. It is believed to have been built by Parson Alexander Galloway, who was the architect of the Bridge of Dee (completed 1527) in Aberdeen. Notable is the memorial to Gilbert de Greenlaw, who died at the nearby Battle of Harlaw in 1411.
Balbithan House, also on the other side of the Don from Kintore, dates from the 17th century. It is an L-plan house of three storeys, the south wing and stair tower are older than the rest of the building.
Kintore Flickr Group Photos
The Royal Burgh of Kintore Flickr Group is where you will find photos from the members of our group.
If you are a Flickr member and you want to post your photos of Kintore, join the group!