Kintore was first granted Royal Burgh status with a royal charter in the late 12th century (about 1190), The Royal Charter was renewed by King James IV in 1506.
But 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 spoken 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.
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 and court house. 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. It contained a tolbooth (jail), a schoolroom, a council room and a house. There is some dubiety about the origins of the clock. Some say it was presented to the burgh by the Earl Marischal, others say that "Macphersons Clock" (as it was known in the 19th century) came from Banff.
The former council chamber was used until recently for Kintore & District Community Council and other meetings (having since moved to make the meetings more accessible for disabled).
Standing in front of the Town House is the Kintore 2000 millennium stone, which was unveiled on Hogmanay (December 31) 2000. The stone was quarried at nearby Tom's Forest quarry.
Action Kintore, Kintore’s community charity, is currently investigating the feasibllity of bringing 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 (see below) 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.
Just to the west of the town centre is the site of the Deer's Den Roman marching camp. This ties in with the other marching camps near Culter in Aberdeen and at Ythan Wells.
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 above left: Uncovering the stone floor of one of the Roman bread ovens
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 141
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.
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 the new Iron Bridge in 1882. The last two red-hot rivets were driven by Kintore Provost Thomas Fraser and Dean of Guild James Scott.
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 south-west 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 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.
It was in the early 19th century that the modern road system was shaped. The first turnpike was along the River Dee and was completed in 1798.
The post road that is now known as the A96 was one of the turnpikes that followed in the next 40 years. The modern A96 follows largely the same route (although the dual carriageway forges a new route in places, the old road can still be followed) from Aberdeen, by Bucksburn, the Tyrebagger Hill, Blackburn to Kintore, then north west by Inverurie, the Glens of Foudland and Huntly and on to Inverness.
Kintore was on the ill-fated Aberdeen to Inverurie canal, the only canal in Aberdeenshire. It was completed in 1805 and passengers, agricultural produce, coal and fertiliser were taken along its 18 miles at the dizzy speed of eight miles an hour in boats towed by two horses.
The canal went round the west of the centre of Kintore, crossing what is now School Road near Kintore Primary School and continuing towards Bridgealehouse, before turning back towards the River Don and the line that was taken over by the railway. On the 1867 map of Kintore, the canal has gone, but is recollected by “Canal Cottage” on School Road.
The days of the canal are recalled by the name Port Elphinstone, the canal terminus which is just north of Kintore. A small part of the canal can still be seen here.
Thanks to Carol Carnie, who was brought up in Brae Farm, Kintore and now lives in the Netherlands, we now know that part of the canal remains on the farm. You can still see the milestone on the bank of the canal which states that it is 13 miles to Aberdeen. You can find this at the bottom of Kingsfield Road, just past the house that used to be called Kintore Nurseries.
Never a financial success, the canal was eventually sold, in 1845, to the Great North of Scotland Railway Company. In 1854, using largely Irish labour, the canal was filled in and the railway track laid along the route.
Castlehill was levelled to make way for the railway and the Loch of Kintore, which extended from the base of Castlehill to the old railway station, was largely filled in. The loch is still recalled in the name Lochburn.