Duration: 1 hour.
This is a short but very satisfying there and back walk to the summit of Barra Hill. Barra is a low hill with a marvellous view from the top of the Bennachie range to the south, and sweeping open views of the fertile Garioch farmland all around. The walk starts from the churchyard at Kirkton of Bourtie, between Inverurie and Oldmeldrum, making a gentle ascent through farmland and a small wood to the slopes of the hill. Stiles are conveniently placed in order to cross field boundaries as you make your ascent. Upon reaching the summit area you will immediately discern the impressive remains of three grass-covered levels of tiered earth and stone ramparts. Barra Hill is, in fact, a remarkable example of an Iron Age fort. Archaeological excavations have uncovered four prior phases of human activity: 1) early Prehistoric, 2) Neolithic to mid Iron Age, 3) late Prehistoric, 4) Pictish and Medieval. The slopes of the hill also show evidence of pre-modern rig and furrow farming practice. Historical accounts suggest that the Earl of Comyn’s supporters camped on the hill-top in May 1308 before their bloody rout the next day at the hands of Robert the Bruce’s kinsmen, during Bruce’s savage military campaign to take over the kingship of Scotland. Bourtie Kirk, at the start/end of the walk has a long history. The present church building has an unusual pyramidal shape, and dates from 1806. Christian worship at this rural spot is believed to date back 800 years. The earliest gravestone discovered here is from the 16th Century.
Note: you are likely to encounter farm livestock on this walk and access to the hill may not be advised during lambing season.