This moorland was not meant to be lived on. It was a commonty; common land shared by the neighbouring landlords. People were allowed to use this land for free to graze sheep or cattle. They could also draw on its natural resources of wood, peat, stone and heather. It was not land for growing crops.
A plan of the commonty undertaken in 1845 by Alexander Smith. The original document is held at the National Archives of Scotland.
In 1801, while people were being forced off land elsewhere, one man decided to live on the rent-free slopes of Bennachie. Other families soon joined him and a farming community grew. In 1859, however, the landlords divided the ownership of the commonty and began to charge rent. Some families could not afford to stay, others were evicted, but a few remained and continued to farm.
This plan was drawn in 1858 by James Forbes Beattie and used by the eight landlords to divide the commonty between them.
You can see the remains of the houses that belonged to this short-lived community by following the Bennachie Colony Trail.
Visiting Bennachie Colony
The exact location of Bennachie Colony is grid reference NJ 698 216.
The best place to start your visit is the Bennachie centre.
All sites managed by Forestry Commission Scotland are open for you to explore. However, not all sites have paths or signage and some are a considerable distance from car parking. We recommend that visitors consult a detailed map and wear appropriate clothing.
Please follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and remember that historic sites should be treated with care and respect.