Last updated

Map of Scotland showing the present-day committee area of Garioch ScotlandAberdeenshireGarioch.png
Map of Scotland showing the present-day committee area of Garioch

Garioch (Scots : The Geerie, [1] /ˈɡɪəri/ GEER-ee, Scottish Gaelic : Gaibheach) [2] is one of six committee areas in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It has a population of 46,254 (2006 estimate), which gives it the largest population of Aberdeenshire's six committee areas. [3] The Garioch consists primarily of the district drained by the River Ury and its tributaries the Shevock and the Gadie Burn. [4]



The placename "Garioch" comes from the Gaelic Gairbheach, meaning "place of roughness". [2] [5] The name is first mentioned as "Garviach" in a charter dated to between 1178 and 1182, referring at that time to the small area now known as the Upper Garioch. [6] This is still the meaning used in a charter granting land to the Bishop of Aberdeen in 1190, [6] but by 1195 the name was being used to describe the entire area of the provincial lordship, extending as far east as Inverurie. [5]


The view from Bennachie to Tap o' Noth, across the area of the original shire or thanage of Garioch. Tap O Noth & Leslie Castle 2741a (13426711975).jpg
The view from Bennachie to Tap o' Noth, across the area of the original shire or thanage of Garioch.

Before the late 12th century, Garioch consisted only of the area of the parishes of Culsalmond, Insch, Rathmuriel, Kennethmont, Leslie, Premnay and Clatt [6] in the hilly country to the west of Oyne. [5] It was probably a shire or thanage, [7] and may originally either have formed part of the province of Buchan, or been an area of the Pictish territory of under the direct control of the kings of the dominant neighbouring kingdom of Fortriu. [8]

The larger provincial lordship of Garioch was established and granted to David, Earl of Huntingdon by King William the Lion in a charter dated between 1178 and 1182. [9] This was a newly created territorial unit of eleven parishes, including all of the earlier shire except Clatt, which had already been granted to the Bishop of Aberdeen, and with the new estates included in the lordship to the east - Oyne, Durno, Inverurie, Bourtie and Fintray - specified individually. [10] The lordship was created within a broader area stretching from the Dee to the Spey that had been under royal control at least since the reign of Malcolm IV, and included the royal thanages of Formartine, Belhelvie, Kintore and Aberdeen to the south east and the Lordship of Strathbogie to the north west. [11] One of Earl David's first acts was to establish the precise boundaries of his acquisition through a perambulation and by 1195 "Garioch" was being used to describe the entire territory of the lordship. [5]

The creation of the lordship was intended as an aggressive assertion of royal power: the first example north of the Mounth of the pattern already established south of the Forth by the 1160s of granting large territorial lordships to allies of the king from the incoming Anglo-Norman elite. [12] Garioch was strategically important to securing control by the Kings of Alba over the entire north, as it lay between the earldoms of Mar and Buchan, [9] and controlled the main routes from the Mounth north to the still-restive Province of Moray. [13] Earl David was the King's brother and had first-hand experience of suppressing rebellions in the north, having accompanied William with a "great army" on a military expedition to Ross in 1179. [14] Under his lordship the Garioch was intensively settled with colonisers from an English, French, Norman, Breton and Flemish background, which can still be seen in local placenames such as Ingliston near Caskieben, Williamston in Culsalmond and Flinder (originally Flandres) near Kennethmont. [6]

The Bass of Inverurie, the remaining motte of the main castle of the provincial lordship of Garioch The Bass of Inverurie. - - 117762.jpg
The Bass of Inverurie, the remaining motte of the main castle of the provincial lordship of Garioch

One of Earl David's first important decisions was to establish the principal power centre of the lordship at Inverurie, which was recorded as a burgh by 1195 and where Inverurie Castle was completed by 1199 at the latest. [15] Although Inverurie was not a new settlement, it had previously been only of minor importance and before 1190 had been a dependency of the parish of Rothket. [15]

After the death in 1237 of Earl David's childless son and successor John, the lordship was divided between his three sisters, coming into the hands of the families of their husbands John de Balliol, Robert de Brus and Henry de Hastings. [16] As early as 1290 Robert the Bruce was seeking to take complete control of the Garioch from de Balliol's and de Hastings' descendents John Balliol and John Hastings, who were his competitors for the Crown of Scotland. [17] In early 1315, after Bruce's victory at the Battle of Bannockburn, an inquest was held into the Balliol and Hastings lands in Garioch, and the lordship was reunited and granted in its entirety by Bruce to his oldest living sister Christina Bruce. [18] Christina died in 1357 and the lordship of the Garioch was granted to Thomas, Earl of Mar by David II, after which it remained permanently attached to the Earldom of Mar. [19]


The Shevack inscription stone at Newton. Shevack.inscription.stone.jpg
The Shevack inscription stone at Newton.

Centred on Inverurie, a traditional rural market town whose foundation dates back to the 9th century with the establishment of Christianity at Polnar, "The Kirk of Rocharl" – now St Andrew's Parish Church, Inverurie, "The Auld Kirk of Inverurie", the Garioch has also experienced rapid population growth due to its proximity to the city of Aberdeen. Significant growth in population, services and employment is anticipated in the A96 corridor and in Westhill. The area is largely agricultural, but is strongly affected by Aberdeen's economy and the oil and gas sector.

Related Research Articles

Aberdeenshire Council area of Scotland

Aberdeenshire is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland.

Inverurie Human settlement in Scotland

Inverurie is a town in Aberdeenshire, Scotland at the confluence of the rivers Ury and Don, about 16 miles (26 km) north-west of Aberdeen.

Battle of Harlaw 1411 Scottish clan battle

The Battle of Harlaw was a Scottish clan battle fought on 24 July 1411 just north of Inverurie in Aberdeenshire. It was one of a series of battles fought during the Middle Ages between the barons of northeast Scotland against those from the west coast.

David of Scotland was a Scottish prince and 8th Earl of Huntingdon. He was, until 1198, heir to the Scottish throne.

Aboyne Human settlement in Scotland

Aboyne is a village on the edge of the Highlands in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, on the River Dee, approximately 26 miles (42 km) west of Aberdeen. It has a swimming pool at Aboyne Academy, all-weather tennis courts, a bowling green and is home to the oldest 18 hole golf course on Royal Deeside. Aboyne Castle and the Loch of Aboyne are nearby.

Aberdeenshire (historic) Historic county in Scotland

Aberdeenshire or the County of Aberdeen is a historic county and registration county of Scotland. The area of the county, excluding the city of Aberdeen itself, is also a lieutenancy area. The county borders Kincardineshire, Angus and Perthshire to the south, Inverness-shire and Banffshire to the west, and the North Sea to the north and east. It has a coast-line of 65 miles (105 km).

Gordon (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 1983 onwards

Gordon is a county constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (Westminster), which elects one member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election. The constituency first returned a member in the 1983 general election, but has undergone boundary changes since that date.

WestAberdeenshire was a Scottish county constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1868 to 1918 and from 1950 to 1983. It elected one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election.

River Ury River in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

The River Ury is a small river in northeastern Scotland situated in the Garioch area of Aberdeenshire. Its origins are close to Bennachie, approximately 25 miles to the northwest of Aberdeen. The river runs for approximately 15 miles before meeting the River Don at the south edge of Inverurie. Its main tributary is the Gadie Burn. Fishing permits are available for salmon and trout.

Strathbogie is a district and valley of northwest Aberdeenshire in Scotland, formerly one of the great divisions of that shire, called lordships or thanages, comprehending the whole original estate that King Robert the Bruce gave to the noble family of Gordon, the ancestors of the Duke of Gordon. By 1836, the lordship had become extinct.

Formartine Committee area in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Formartine is a committee area in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. This district extends north from the River Don to the River Ythan. It has a population of 36,478.

The Battle of Inverurie, also known as the Battle of Barra, was fought in the north-east of Scotland in May 1308 according to Fordun. However, Barbour states clearly that it was fought at Christmas of 1307. Many current historians accept Fordun's date, but Barron and some others believe that Bower misinterpreted Fordun's notes. Though part of the wider Wars of Scottish Independence, it is more properly viewed as an episode in a brief but bitter civil war. The battle was a victory for the Scottish king Robert Bruce over his chief domestic enemy, John Comyn, 3rd Earl of Buchan. It was followed by the Harrying of Buchan, a violent act of destruction of property long remembered with bitterness in Buchan. The battlefield was added to the Inventory of Historic Battlefields in Scotland in 2011.

Clan Strachan is a Scottish clan originating from the barony of Strachan, in Aberdeenshire. The clan does not have a chief, therefore it is considered by Court of the Lord Lyon and the Stand Council of Scottish Chiefs as an Armigerous clan.

Kincardine ONeil Human settlement in Scotland

Kincardine O'Neil is a village in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It is situated between the towns of Banchory and Aboyne approximately 25 miles (40 km) west of Aberdeen on the north bank of the River Dee.


Banchory-Devenick is a village approximately two kilometres south of the city of Aberdeen, Scotland in the Lower Deeside area of Aberdeenshire. The village should not be confused with the historic civil parish of the same name which spanned the River Dee until 1891, its northern part lying in Aberdeenshire and its southern part in Kincardineshire. In that year the northern part became part of the neighbouring parish of Peterculter, the southern part remaining as the parish of Banchory-Devenick. The village of Banchory-Devenick is on the B9077 road, and the ancient Causey Mounth passes directly through the village. An historic graveyard dating to 1157 AD is present at the village of Banchory-Devenick. Other historic features in the vicinity include Saint Ternan's Church, Muchalls Castle and the Lairhillock Inn.

Inveramsay railway station

Inveramsay railway station was a railway station in the parish of Chapel of Garioch, near the Mill of Inveramsay, Aberdeenshire. It served the sparsely populated rural area, but was mainly an interchange for the Macduff and Banff branch lines.

Clan Cumming Scottish clan

Clan Cumming, also known as Clan Comyn, is a Scottish clan from the central Highlands that played a major role in the history of 13th-century Scotland and in the Wars of Scottish Independence. The Clan Comyn were the most powerful family in 13th-century Scotland, until they were defeated in civil war by their rival to the Scottish throne, Robert the Bruce.

Hospitals in medieval Scotland

Hospitals in medieval Scotland can be dated back to the 12th century. From c. 1144 to about 1650 many hospitals, bedehouses and maisons Dieu were built in Scotland.

Garioch RFC is a rugby union club based in Inverurie, Scotland. The Mens team currently plays in Caledonia Division One. The Womens team currently plays in the Scottish Womens National One league.


  1. The Online Scots Dictionary
  2. 1 2 Mac an Tàilleir, Iain (2003). "Scottish Gaelic place names F-J" (PDF). Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 19 December 2021.
  3. "Small Area Population Estimates and Forecasts". Aberdeenshire Council. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
  4. Milne, John. 1912. Celtic Place-Names in Aberdeenshire: With a vocabulary of Gaelic words not in dictionaries; the meanings and etymology of the Gaelic names of places in Aberdeenshire
  5. 1 2 3 4 Stringer 1985, p. 66.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Dixon & Fraser 2008, p. 140.
  7. Dixon & Fraser 2008, p. 145.
  8. Shepherd, Colin (2021). The Late Medieval Landscape of North-east Scotland: Renaissance, Reformation and Revolution. Oxford: Windgather Press. p. 23. ISBN   978-1914427077.
  9. 1 2 Stringer 1985, p. 30.
  10. Stringer 1985, pp. 65–66.
  11. Stringer 1985, p. 65.
  12. Stringer 1985, pp. 31–32.
  13. Stringer 1985, p. 34.
  14. Stringer 1985, p. 32.
  15. 1 2 Stringer 1985, p. 70.
  16. Dixon & Fraser 2008, p. 139.
  17. Barrow, G.W.S. (1965). Robert Bruce: And the Community of the Realm of Scotland. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. pp. 59–61. ISBN   0520361970.
  18. Penman, Michael (2014). Robert the Bruce: King of the Scots. London: Yale University Press. pp. 161–162. ISBN   978-0300148725.
  19. Dixon & Fraser 2008, p. 141.


Coordinates: 57°17′02″N2°22′37″W / 57.284°N 2.377°W / 57.284; -2.377