Stonehaven In Scotland, Aberdeenshire

Old Stonehaven local history

Step back in time with fascinating old images of Stonehaven, Scotland.

The sheltered working harbour of Stonehaven in northeast Scotland is home to a small community. 

Stonehaven had grown around an Iron Age fishing village, now the Auld Toon, and expanded inland from the seaside. Stonehaven was a Jacobite town in 1715 and it was a safe base for the retreating Jacobite army to stay overnight on the night in February 1716. In 1745 Stonehaven, part of the Episcopalian north east, was again reliably Jacobite and it was one of the north eastern ports where reinforcements, plus money and equipment were periodically landed from France.

Tourscotland on Youtube

Stonehaven has a famous tradition for Hogmanay Fireballs, a parade where balls of flame are twirled around the streets before being thrown into the sea. It’s also the annual venue for a highly regarded folk festival.

Stonehaven’s railway station survived the Jeremy Beecham cuts of the 1960s and is still operating today. The Caledonian sleeper service London to Scotland stops here.

Old Photos Of Stonehaven

Let’s start with a great collection of old photos, displayed in a video.

Old Photographs Stonehaven Aberdeenshire – Tourscotland on YouTube

History Scotland Podcast

The History Scotland Podcast launches Episode 1 about Stonehaven. Learn about the lesser-known visitor attraction, as well as the famous Hogmanay Fireballs, from Neil McLennan.

History Scotland Podcast Episode 1 – History Scotland on YouTube

Trains 1990

This video of trains operating between Stonehaven and Dundee includes a class 47 in a “push-pull” train and an Intercity 125.

It was recorded on 10th March 1990.

Trains between Stonehaven & Dundee in 1990 – Ron Smith on YouTube

Hogmanay Fireballs In Stonehaven

Two brief videos give us a glimpse of Stonehaven’s most famous tradition in previous decades.


Gill Walker leads off in 1999.

Stonehaven Fireballs 1999 – Stonehavenfireballs on YouTube


Stonehaven Fireballs – Iain Shanks on YouTube


There are various takes on the origin of swinging the fireballs, however the most common explanation is they were used to burn the bad luck and evil spirits out of the town for that year. The balls are eventually thrown into the town harbour.

Scottosanhai on Youtube

Stonehaven Fireballs 2008 – Scottosanhai on YouTube


Stonehaven fireballs 2009-2010 Hogmanay: Kevin Adam on YouTube


In 2010, the popular BBC TV show ‘Coast’ reported on the annual Hogmanay Fireball event.

BBC Coast – Hogmanay Fireballs at Stonehaven :Glasgow1234 on YouTube

The Stonehaven Folk Festival

The Stonehaven’s Folk Festival is another popular event, bringing in visitors from around the UK and further afield.


Stonehaven Music Fest – Rustylug on YouTube


Stonehaven Music Fest – Rustylug on YouTube


This brief clip was recorded in the Marine Hotel in 2007.

Stonehaven Folk Festival – Iain Miller on YouTube


Here’s everyone enjoying the Highland Jig at the Ceilidh Folk Festival in 2008. The band playing is called Cabrach.

Highland jig at Stonehaven Ceilidh Folk Festival – Kleiocaissa on YouTube


The annual World Paper and Comb Championships at Stonehaven Folk Festival in July 2009 was won by a trio performing “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

World Paper and Comb Championships – Trish Santer on YouTube


In this next video, people are enjoying an aqua ceilidh run as part of the Folk Festival. Stonehaven’s pubs, clubs and open air spaces all enjoyed music and dancing at the annual event.

Aqua Ceilidh, Stonehaven Folk Festival – Evening Express on YouTube


Next, these women are Rapper Dancing. It’s a traditional form of sword dancing which is quietly thriving in the folk music circles of Scotland and North East England.

Rapper teams frequently come together to compete, with perhaps St George’s Day as the biggest event in the English Rapper Calendar. A few chosen pubs are packed to the rafters with dancing and musicians, with little room for spectators.

But here in the video of Stonehaven’s market place, you can see all the participants clearly. 

Stonehaven folk fest 2015 – Miguelon on YouTube

The 2009 Floods

One night in 2009 saw hours of torrential downpours. The Grampian Fire and Rescue service endured its busiest night in years as flooding swept through Stonehaven’s streets and buidings.

Aberdeen, Newmachar, Keith, and Rosehearty were also affected.

Flooding in Stonehaven – Evening Express on YouTube

Flooding in Stonehaven – Evening Express on YouTube

This video shows the aftermath of the floods.

After the flood in Stonehaven: Evening Express on YouTube

Roads closed after landslip (2010)

A landslip in the Bervie Braes area of the town led to closure of the roads around the Harbour.

Roads closed in Stonehaven – Evening Express on YouTube

Hi-Jinks & Harbour Festival (2010)

The annual Hi-Jinks is now part of the Harbour Festival. The seaside family fun day involves fun and games, pipe band music, a dress parade, and a barbeque.

Here are some of the scenes from 2010. Joe McGann from the popular play Calendar Girls attended the annual fundraiser for Maritime Rescue Institute, which closed just a few years later.

Splashing out at Stonehaven’s Harbour Hi-Jinks: Evening Express on YouTube

Stonehaven Harbour Festival – Evening Express on YouTube

As part of the 2010 Stonehaven MRI Harbour Open Day, Stonehaven Fire Brigade rescued a bear.

Stonehaven Fire Brigade rescue a bear – Radiokingful on YouTube

Stonehaven Seafront Flooded (2010)

Thankfully, the flooding in 2010 caused much less damage than the town had experienced the previous year.

However, shopworkers along Stonehaven’s beach boulevard had to stack sandbags up against doorways as massive waves crashed along the coast.

Stones and seaweed were scattered over Beach Road.

Stonehaven seafront flooded after waves crash: Evening Express on YouTube

Stonehaven Lorry Crash (2010)

Stonehaven lorry crash – Evening Express on YouTube

Stonehaven Hit By Storm Damage (2012)

In 2012, Stonehaven and Boddam, near Peterhead, suffered the worst storm damage in living memory.

Massive waves ripped stone walls apart, swept parked cars into each other and wiped out an entire harbour wall and fish yard.

Stonehaven hit by worst storm damage in living memory: Evening Express on YouTube

Fish and Chip Shop Fire (2013)

More than 30 firefighters battled a blaze at Sandy’s Fish and Chips and Restaurant, in Stonehaven, after a fire broke out in one of the restaurant’s fryers.

Stonehaven fish and chip shop damaged after fire – Evening Express on YouTube

Storms (2014)

Thanksfully, the storms of 7th October 2014 caused didn’t cause the damage of the 2012 storms. But the high winds and tides made for dramatic waves, and seafront residents were evacuated.

Stonehaven flooding: Evening Express on YouTube

Stonehaven storm October 2014: Neil Horne on YouTube

Water reached up to the doors of The Beach Pavilion and Molly’s. Watch a flypast recorded from a Sea King Helicopter, showing the Cowie mouth being swamped.

Storm waves hit Stonehaven – andy mcallan on YouTube

Feein’ Market (2018)

The Feein’ Market is another of Stonehaven’s popular annual traditions, held on the first Saturday in June. It’s organised and managed by Stonehaven and District Lions Club, but has a long history.

Here in 2018, the Stonehaven Pipe Band is led into Market Square by Pipe Major Andy Meehan.

Stonehaven Pipe Band start the annual Feein’ – Braemar Media on YouTube

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