The village and harbour of Gardenstown was founded in 1720 by Alexander Garden (1665 to 1731) 2nd laird of Troup. Garden recognised that a living could be made from the sea, and that the small strips of land that he owned near the coastline could be used to build cottages to house the fishermen and their families. After all, the land was not of much use for anything else. Prior to 1720 the village was known as Gamrie, and to many it still is.
The harbour was rebuilt in 1868 back in the days of sail. It was a busy harbour then, packed with herring boats such as Fifies, Skaffies, and Zulus. However the introduction of the much larger coal powered steam drifters in the 1900’s led to many of the fishermen moving away to the larger harbours of Macduff and Fraserburgh. Today the harbour is only used by small boats with crab / lobster creels, and pleasure craft. The harbour formerly had its own lighthouse at the outer-most end of the quay, but it has since been removed. The village was badly affected by the storm of 1953, with many houses being badly damaged. During the summer months a small Heritage Centre is open at the harbour.
St. John’s Kirk (Now roofless) and cemetery lies to the west of the village in a very prominent position. (This can be reached by a walk from Gardenstown harbour heading west which is quite difficult when following the path up the cliffs. Alternatively you can go by car heading to Banff and turning right where signposted down a single track road to a small car park). The first kirk built on this site was erected in 1004. Legend tells us that invading Vikings (Danes) landed here and that the Scots with the help of a prayer from St. John defeated them. The battle was known as the ‘Battle of the Bloody Pits’, the dead were buried in pits which are said to have been full of blood.
To the east of the harbour is a nice walk along the foot of the cliffs known locally as the ‘Snook’ to the small one street village of Crovie.
For more on Gardenstown see: http://www.discovergardenstown.co.uk/