Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Fit's Kintore a' aboot?

In The Taexali Game my time travellers are from Kintore... so where is the place and what's special about it? 
I’ve blogged about Kintore before on this blog but, in case you missed it, here’s almost a repeat about the Aberdeenshire village which I’ve used as the setting for Book 1 of my Rubidium Time Travel Series of adventures- The Taexali Game.
My trio of time travellers—Aran, Brian and Fianna— have gone to the local primary school at Kintore and have been friends for some years. When they’re whisked back in time to AD 210 they find themselves in a landscape that has some sense of familiarity but not quite what they’re used to in 2015. 
What are they NOT seeing in AD 210 that any visitor - time travelled or otherwise -  would experience in 2015?
I've blogged in the past about the main historical landmarks in Kintore (on this blog) but, in case you missed those posts, here's a little recap about what Aran, Brian and Fianna are used to seeing in Kintore...
Kintore is a small town in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, currently with a growing population that’s now approaching 5,000.  Though the most ancient one of that name, as far as I can tell, there are a few other places worldwide sporting the title of Kintore- two registered in Canada, and two Kintores in Australia. None of those in Canada or Australia were established around the 9th century as the one in Aberdeenshire was. 

A town charter is believed to have been granted to Kintore by King Kenneth II (earliest period of Scottish monarchy) in recognition that the locals helped him to victory on Tuach Hill by driving cattle covered in oak leaves at the Danish lines. The defeat of the Danes is celebrated on Kintore's coat of arms- depicted by a shield, an oak tree and two horned bulls standing up on their back legs. The Royal Charter Status was also recorded as being renewed in 1506 by King James IV. In times that are more modern a ceremony took place, in 1959, whereby Lord Lyon, King of Arms, presented an Official Coat of Arms to the Burgh. (On the wall between the forestairs in the above photo) Lord Lyon is the official responsible for overseeing state ceremonial in Scotland and grants new ‘arms’ to persons or organisations. He is also the official in Scotland who registers and records new clan tartans, upon request by a clan chief.

Kintore - Ceann Tòrr in Gaelic - means the town was at the head or end of a round hill. Ceann means the head, or the end, and Tòrr means a round hill. This probably relates to the Tuach Hill related above which lies to the south of the town. The area has been a popular settlement since prehistoric times, the stone circle on Tuach Hill only one of many ancient stone monuments in the surrounding area. Recent excavations, of approximately 2004, unearthed finds dating to at least 5000 BC. 
Kintore Townhouse was completed in 1747 and had a room specially designated as a Schoolroom; a Schoolhouse; a Council room and it was also the local Tolbooth prison. Rumour has it that back in those days it was not unheard of for a miscreant in the schoolroom to be removed and sent down to the basement prison to serve out a punishment.
By the early 1800s, the school was removed to its own dedicated building nearby leaving more space in the townhouse for other purposes. When I moved to Kintore in 1988, there was a little general store in one of the ground floor rooms aong with a tiny Post Office. 

Kintore parish churchyard has a Pictish symbol stone of the 6th-7th century AD. However, the present church is not a really ancient one since the earliest church was sited nearby in the Parish of Keithhall and Kinkell, to which the residents of Kintore attended. Though an earlier church was definitely on the current site, the present building is a remodelled version of the Archibald Simpson church designed and built in 1819. A young man at the time of designing the church, the architect and nephew of the minister, went on to become a well renowned architect in Aberdeenshire.

Bridgealehouse is at the northern end of the town. It served as the court and council house until the present Town House was built in 1747- Burgh Records refer to court proceedings being held there from around 1690 to 1745, the Earl of Kintore. Robert Bruce and the Bailies of Kintore are recorded a having been present t meetings in this building. I believe this house remains as a site of ‘some historic significance’.  

After the present Town House was built, Bridgealehouse became a coaching inn, historical references alluding to this fact are found for October 1779. The other coaching inn was The Kintore Arms. This was frequented by users of the toll road which ran from Aberdeen to the north and went right through the town

Hallforest Castle
A mile to the south-west of Kintore you'll find the ruins of Hallforest Castle. Said to have been built in 1296 it is an oblong keep 48 feet by 30 feet, and the walls are around seven foot thick. It was built on six floors and was one of the earliest towers in Scotland.

The Castle took its name from its location in the great forest - Hallforest. The forest, which lies between Kintore and Kemnay (4 miles from Kintore) is also recalled in local names such as Forest Road and Tom's Forest.

It is claimed to have been built as a hunting lodge by King Robert the Bruce.

In 1305, Sir Robert Keith (received the title Great Marischal) was chosen as one of ten Scots to represent his country at the English Parliament but in May, 1308, he was fighting with Bruce's army at the Battle of Barra, near Inverurie (4 miles from Hallforest). The Keith family helped Robert the Bruce to gain his throne in the ensuing battles for independence from the English. Keith was rewarded by King Robert the Bruce by land at Hallforest, Kintore that included the castle. And so the Keith's arrived in the Garioch ( local name for the land around Inverurie) and the castle became the stronghold of the Keith family.

King James IV of Scotland is said to have hunted in Hallforest and Mary Queen of Scots is known to have stayed at Hallforest in 1562.

(The Battle of Inverurie, also known as the Battle of Barra, was fought in May 1308 in the north-east of Scotland. Though part of the wider Wars of Scottish Independence it is more properly viewed as an episode in a brief but bitter civil war. The battle was a victory for the Scottish King Robert Bruce over his chief domestic enemy, John Comyn, 3rd Earl of Buchan. It was followed by the Harrying of Buchan, a violent act of destruction, at least equal to, if not greater than, some of the excesses practiced elsewhere by the English.)

Mmmm....Writing this blog post has remined me to take some new photographs of the main historical landmarks in Kintore. 


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