17 March 2023

Praise for ongoing historic assets work as focus turns to St Brandon's Churchyard, Inverboyndie

Securing the long-term stability of St. Brandon’s Churchyard at Inverboyndie is this year’s priority for Aberdeenshire Council’s Historic Asset Management Project (HAMP).

The project outlined its plans for the year ahead at a meeting of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee which met yesterday (Thurs, March 16).

Aberdeenshire Council has a statutory duty under health and safety and heritage legislation to keep historic structures in its ownership safe and in good condition.

Since 2013, HAMP has been carrying out vital works at many of the region’s 500-plus non-operational historic assets in Council ownership including church ruins, historic churchyards, commemorative towers and fountains, war memorials, Pictish carved stones, stone circles, and castle ruins.

Assets were first surveyed between 2014 and 2015 with a repair prioritisation plan drawn up to focus the limited financial resources on critical repairs and maintenance.

During the meeting, councillors heard that the main focus this year will be St. Brandon’s Churchyard which is a complex and challenging project.

The kirkyard is a Category B listed site and the remains of the church are a scheduled monument. In 2015 part of the ruins that form a burial vault was fenced off as it was deemed unsafe and in 2019 a section of the boundary wall collapsed, and netting was put in place and herras fencing was erected.

The wall had previously been raised in height and a concrete buttress had been built to support the wall so this problem had been developing over a number of years. Consultants were appointed to investigate the cause of the damage and to propose a long-term solution to the problem.

The HAMP project board has agreed to investigate all possible channels around match funding together with a long lease of neighboring land to bring about a successful resolution.

Meanwhile, dependent on the progress at Inverboyndie, additional works may be undertaken at a number of sites during 2023-24 including:

  • Scheduled Monument consent is now in place to allow repairs to the Elphinstone Aisle, Kildrummy
  • Scheduled Monument consent to be applied for prior to work to consolidate the walls and repairs to the roof at St.Drostan’s New Aberdour
  • Repairs to cemetery walls at Lumphanan, Ordiqhuill, Kinnellar, Bethelnie and Forglen
  • The James Hunter Fountain in Banchory will be rebuilt at the new entrance to the graveyard just off the A93

Working alongside colleagues in the Archaeology Service, the HAMP project officer is also resuming work following the Covid pandemic to fund new and replacement interpretation boards at council-owned historic assets and other sites of historical interest.

Commenting after the meeting, ISC chair Cllr John Crawley said: “It was heartening to hear so much praise and thanks from councillors today for the magnificent work our very small historic asset team does with such a limited budget. Protecting and maintaining our historical structures - be that graveyards, castles, monuments or war memorials – is absolutely critical and it is tremendous to see the team working so hard to keep them in good condition.”

Vice-chair Cllr Isobel Davidson added: “Historic assets are very much part of Aberdeenshire’s heritage, its rich history and, of course, its people and I was delighted to hear that the HAMP team regularly inspects these assets to ensure priority is given to those most in need. Not only do they undertake careful surveys and manage the work contracts, they also seek out funding external funding streams to support the cost of these vital works – a real achievement for this small, but very dedicated team.”

A full list of Aberdeenshire Council’s historic assets is available here