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Echt Aberdeenshire, Those who read Lewis Grassic Gibbonls trilogy of novels A Scots Quair to the somewhat bitter end will know that it concludes on the Barmekin of Echt, which occupies a symbolic place in the story, and where in fact the last pages of it were actually written by the author in the summer of 1934, only about nine months before his death.
It adds something, perhaps, to the meaning it holds in Gibbons masterpiece to know that this flat topped hill, the upper slopes of which are clad in heather and rich in wild berries, was of old a place of refuge, as it was to his heroine.
Here, ensconced in ﬁve concentric rings of stone fortification, the Picts who built them could look straight across country northwards. to the next big hill-fort on the Mither Tap of Bennachie.
To the south west of them towered the shapely ridge of the Hill of FARE, while between 1 to 2 miles east lay the shimmering mirror of the Loch of Skene all as described in Grey Granite.
A millennium after it was in use as a hill-fort, the Barinekin was the scene of signs and portents in the winter of 1637 on the eve of the Civil War.
Gordon's History Of Scots Affairs avers that ‘for the space of all the winter, almost every night, drums were heard beaten about four o'clock, the parade of retiring guards, their taptoes, their reveilles and marches distinctly heard.
Even more prophetic of dire events to come was the fact that first Scottish marches were heard. then Irish, then English and then the marches of French, Dutch, and Danish soldiers an omen of the various troops that were to be used in the coming conflict.
The Barmekin was in the news again in 1882, when a telescope from the Earl of Crawford‘s observatory at Dunecht was set up inside the ancient fort to watch a transit of Venus, Immediately to the east of the Barinekin lie the two small villages in the parish of Eeht: the older Kirkton of Echt, with an interesting Georgian parish church and an old inn, and 2 miles north the Waterton of Dunecht, a model village laid out at the end of the 19th century by A. C. Piric, then proprietor of the estate of Dunecht and its palatial mansions. This great estate was purchased in 1910 by the lst Viscount Cowdray, Weetinan Dickinson Pearson, a great civil engineer magnate and former president of the Air Board in the First World War. The vast mansion itself, with over 100 rooms and a w, front of 230 ft, was built for the Earl of Crawford after 1845 to designs by G. E. Street.
There are many prehistoric monuments in the Echt district. including the stone circle at Stinhoney to the west, but the best preserved is the Cullerlie Stone Circle about 1 mile south east of Kirkton, now under the care of the Department of the Environment. It consists of eight untrimmed boulders, enclosing an area consecrated by fire. On which eight small cairns were later constructed, probably in the late Bronze Age.