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Volunteers record history of entire north-east churchyard as part of five-year project

Director of Portsoy  Community Enterprise Anne McArthur, left  and Salmon Bothy volunteer Moira Smith with the new publication.
Director of Portsoy Community Enterprise Anne McArthur, left and Salmon Bothy volunteer Moira Smith with the new publication.

A publication five years in the making has set in stone a huge chunk of north-east history for future generations.

A team of volunteers from Portsoy Salmon Bothy have dedicated hundreds of hours into creating a booklet hoped to be welcomed by family historians worldwide who have Fordyce connections.

Since the summer of 2015, the team have recorded the inscriptions on every gravestone in Fordyce kirkyard in association with Aberdeen and North East Scotland Family History Society.

The initial transcription phase was followed by further painstaking work to check the accuracy of each record, with volunteers turning out at regular intervals and in all weather.

Alison Smith, genealogy coordinator at the Salmon Bothy, said: “This publication represents a tremendous achievement by dozens of local volunteers who contributed to the project.

“The results will be of immense benefit to family historians everywhere who are unable to make a personal visit to Fordyce.

“The newly produced booklet means that anyone whose ancestors were recorded on gravestones in Fordyce kirkyard can now read the full inscription on each stone without having to leave home.”

The project had a few hiccups along the way, though, with a chance beam of sunshine bringing to light one surprisingly recent stone which had been gradually enveloped by the dense branches of a yew tree.

More previously unknown stones were also thrown up buried beneath turf.

A summer storm later resulted into the destruction of several stones by falling trees, but thankfully their inscriptions had already been preserved.

The volunteers say these acts of nature highlighted the importance of recording the memorials.

Anne McArthur and Moira Smith  with copies of a new book on Fordyce graveyard. Pic by Chris Sumner

This is the third booklet on burial grounds produced by Portsoy Salmon Bothy, the previous publications recording inscriptions from Portsoy Old Burial Ground and Portsoy Cemetery.

The transcriptions were compiled within the museum and family history base at the bothy, which is located within a former working salmon house which was restored and houses a museum, over the past five years.

It is run by volunteers as part of Portsoy Community Enterprise.

The new booklet is price £3 and is available to purchase from the Salmon Bothy online shop at

The Kirkyard of Fordyce

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