Kildrummy Castle (6)
A view of the remains of the chapel, with its three great lancet windows - facing east of course. To the right are the remains of the Brux Tower, and to the left, at the north-east corner of the castle, the Warden's Tower. The floor of the chapel was of wood and there was an undercroft below, entered by a door on the right - just this side of Diana. The door to the left of the lancet windows opened into a small vestry, built within the curtain wall, with its own garderobe. and a small window opening inwards into the castle.
To continue from the previous photo:-
For many years I found it curious that such an obviously important fortress as Kildrummy, was sited in such a seemingly out of the way and unimportant place as this. To understand why it was built here, it is important to look at the shape of the land and the direction of the ancient routes that crossed it - whilst trying to ignore the modern ones.
As you drive north up the east coast of Scotland through Angus, the wall of mountains to the west (bounded here by a fault line called the Highland Line, that crosses Scotland from one coast to the other), slowly draws closer, eventually pinching off the coastal plain altogether. This arm of the Grampian Mountains is called the Mounth, and to us, living in the age of the motor car, it is difficult to appreciate just how much of an impediment to travel it was until a century or so ago.
The Mounth eventually reaches the coast between Stonehaven and Aberdeen. Although now only low rolling hills, rapidly crossed by the A90, in times gone by even this area was difficult to negotiate. The Red Moss, new reduced by drainage work to little more than a name on the map, formed an almost uncrossable boggy obstacle, drained only slowly by the Muchalls Burn.
If one draws a line on the map from Stonehaven, 75 miles due westwards to Dalwhinnie, only two roads cross that line - the B974, which crosses the Cairn o'Mount Pass, and the A93, that crosses the Cairnwell Pass from Glenshee to Braemar. In centuries gone by however, when transport was on horseback or foot, which made straight routes much more desirable, a much greater number of passes were in use over the Mounth.
The Romans were the first to put a proper road into Aberdeenshire. Presumably Aberdeen itself didn't exist back then, and the location on Deeside they chose for their camp - a fine defensive hilltop position a mile or two south-west of Peterculter (erroneously called Normandykes), is a clue to their solution to the problem of crossing the Mounth and avoiding the coastal bogs. Their road followed the most easterly and lowest of all the Mounth passes, the Elsick Mounth, which passes through Netherley and skirts the Red Moss to the west. This line over the Elsick Mounth, must have been the main approach to Aberdeen for the next thousand years or more.
[Cont. next photo.]