Bennachie - A long history to be discovered
Each time I go out for a walk I like to learn something new. I've been using field study council publications for a while now, they produce great fold out study guides that fit easily into my rucksack, ranging from lichens to rocks. There's so much diverse flora, fauna and geology in our hills and it changes with the seasons.
I also like to learn about the local history, so if you're ever out for a walk with me please share your knowledge! Prior to going somewhere I read up on the area, sources from books to Wikipedia but you can't cover all of the history or stories.
I've walked on Bennachie for many years knowing roughly the older history of the hill. Bennachie, possibly from the Gaelic, Beinn na Cìche (Hill of the Breast), resulting in Mither Tap, the lesser top of the hill, Oxen Craig stands 11m taller. It's also possible it comes from Hill of the Battle (Beinn a' Chath) as it's been suggested the battle of Mons Graupius, a Roman military victory took place there in AD83. Mither tap also has the remains of the Iron Age fort at the top, being the dominant hill in the area, you can only imagine the stronghold and the significance of the hill. Life must have been hard at the top of the hill! Aberdeenshire is notable for it's number of recumbent stone circles, possibly from the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age (c.2700 - 200bc) and I can imagine Bennachie being the epicentre of these circles, although there is a theory Dunnideer near Insch might have been the focal point.
On my navigation session on Monday I was made aware of the air crashes on the hill, somehow this had passed me by previously. We started the session inside the excellent visitor centre classroom, looking at maps and hill kit. Inside the classroom some of the plane remains hang from the ceiling. During the afternoon walk on the hill, two of the local gents were able to share their knowledge of the events. Sadly two young men were the first casualties of WW2 on Bennachie. The Bailies of Bennachie website tells more of the story, you can read it here.
I'll visit the memorial cairn next time I take a walk alone on the hill.