Day one took me through Northumberland, with a couple of stops to see Roman sites, and then up into Scotland. On the road heading towards Jedburgh, this is the sight you’re waiting for.
Then it was off to Jedburgh, where there’s an abbey next to the river.
The next day I spent in Edinburgh at the records centre, trawling through the Longside kirk session minutes. This took all day, by the end of which my eyes felt as if they were on stalks. But the Longside minutes proved very useful as it was obviously a parish that took chasing up couples who’d “sinned” before marriage very seriously indeed. Made notes of lots of names that might belong on my tree, then struck gold: my gggg grandparents, who married in 1800, were fined 10 shillings each for indulging in pre-marital fornication. More about this is another post.
After Edinburgh it was up into the Cairngorms, through Braemar. Absolutely stunning scenery and the weather was glorious – warm and sunny. It is magnificent up there, though odd to drive past ski lifts when there’s no snow around. Difficult to take photos of distant views as they never come out as it looks in real life. But it is jaw-droppingly beautiful.
Next day went to Balmoral, which was better than I was expecting. They’ve made it into a very good visitor attraction, and I’m not surprised the Royals love it there.
A walk along the River Dee was blissful.
Then it was a drive towards the coast the next day, stopping to see castles, scenery and visit the Museum of Farming Life at Aden Country Park. There’s an excellent exhibition there, with a very good booklet that I bought telling the story of the transition from the early farmtouns to modern day farming. My ancestors were very much part of this transition so I found it fascinating.
It was then time to visit ancestral haunts: first on the list was Collieston, where my gg grandfather Alexander Fraser lived and worked at least twice before he took over the family croft.
Next stop was Cruden old Kirk. Last time I was there I took photos of the Fraser gravestone, giving details of my great grandfather, his second wife and two of their children. It was lying on its side then, as it had broken. So huge disappointment this time as it was no longer there – gone due to Health and Safety regulations I expect.
Off to Mosside Croft next, north-east of Hatton. It was a ruin last time I saw it and it clearly hadn’t been touched since. Sad to think that over 100 years of blood, sweat and toil is now going to waste, but at least it’s still there.
A wider view of the croft shows the steadings alongside, where the farm animals lived and machinery was stored. There are two here and the one nearest the cottage is clearly a lot older than the second one.
My mother remembers holidaying here in the 1920s, and the field in front of the cottage was sown to crops, with grazing for the cows behind. My half great grandmother made cheese, they had hens for eggs and meat, and kept a pig for fattening up.
It seems very isolated now, but it wasn’t really: nearby crofts were only a very short walk away and a lot of farming tasks would be co-operative, crofters helping each other with ploughing and harvesting.
That’s Hardslacks to the right and behind of Mosside croft.
Up towards Peterhead next, as many of my ancestors were quarry workers at Stirlinghill – a quarry that’s still in operation. Next to it is Lendrum Terrace, an address that turns up on the census as my gg aunt Mary Ann Fraser married David Ewan Michael, and they lived at Lendrum Terrace.
Power is something Aberdeenshire produces plenty of: there are wind turbines everywhere. I know not everyone is a fan, but personally I think they look much nicer than a power station.
I had thought of perhaps spending a day in Aberdeen in the Local Studies Library but didn’t in the end: the weather was far too good to spend a day inside. So much of the time was spent soaking up the sun and fresh air.
Then it was a long drive back home, and farewell to Scotland – until next time.