New app taps into the past

A screenshot from the new Bennachie app
A screenshot from the new Bennachie app

A new digital app has been launched that reveals the history of the crofters who lived at the Bennachie Colony.

The crofters made their homes on the slopes of Bennachie in the 19th century and the remains of their houses and fields can still be seen.

While around 150,000 visits to Bennachie are made each year, few are aware of the stories of the Colony – the families who worked the ground, lived in the houses and, in some cases, were forced off the land as rents were imposed on them by the local laird.

The Digital Bennachie Colony Trail app, supported by the University of Aberdeen and funded by grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Bailies of Bennachie, shows where their houses were and how the crofters made a living from the sparse hillsides.

Included are a mix of archaeology and archival history along with stories, music, poems, a quiz and even recipes.

Users can explore the inside of one of the croft houses and see digital reconstructions of the crofting landscape.

The app project was led by the Bailies of Bennachie community group.

Group chair, Jackie Cumberbirch, said: “This is the first ever Bennachie app and it’s a testament to all the hard work of the community volunteers who took part in the research.

“By downloading this free app we hope that many people can see into the past seeing the homes of the Colonists in 1860 that are near to the Bennachie Visitor Centre. It is great seeing into the past.”