Jock o' Bennachie

The distinctive hill of Bennachie is one of Aberdeenshire’s most well loved landmarks. It’s said to be guarded by a giant, Jock o’ Bennachie, nicknamed “Little Johnnie” despite his great height. His bed is a space between two crags, and known to this day as “Little John’s Length”. Up on a bare patch on the north-west of Craig Shannock was where he dried his washing.

Jock o’ Bennachie had a great enemy – Jock o’ Noth, who stayed on a hill nearby in Rhynie. They would battle and fling boulders at each other for days on end. Once, Jock threw a boulder so hard, his enormous fingers left a dent in the rock. As Jock o’ Noth set to throw a boulder back, Jock stopped it, leaving it on the Tap o’ Noth, with the imprint of Jock’s big toe.

For now, it’s said Jock is under a spell at the hands of Jock o’ Noth, and fast asleep inside a locked cave on Bennachie. An old rhyme suggests that the keys of Bennachie will only be found by a son with one eye, under a Juniper tree. Long ago, a man stumbled across a key sticking from a lock, but was unable to turn it. He headed off to find help, and hung his hat on the key to mark his place. But when he returned, both the hat and the key had vanished!

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