German field gun discovered at bottom of Crichie quarry

A stone from the quarry was erected 40ft above where the gun rests.
A stone from the quarry was erected 40ft above where the gun rests.

AN ANCIENT field gun has been discovered 40ft below the ground at what once served as a quarry near Stuartfield.

The gun, which was taken back to the North-east after the First World War by General Sir John Burnett-Stuart, has up until now been a mystery, but last week a voluntary time team put an end to the magnificent story.

The exhibit gun was placed in the Square at Stuartfield, which at the time, was frowned upon by soldiers returning home with memories of the wounded. After a drinking session, it was removed from the Square and dumped in the River Ugie. It was then recovered and placed back by the General, but one week later the same thing happened again. The rivalry continued, with the men from the village finally removing the gun from its chains and dropping it into a quarry at Middle Third at West Knock Farm where it has remained for just short of 100 years.

Local historian Billy Rennie says the story of the gun is well recorded and spoken about.

“Research has taken me down many avenues to find the truth as all those involved with the ‘Crichie Gun’ around 1915/19 have long since died,” he said.

“A chance meeting with a young lady by the name of Miss Jackie Gough brought me into contact with the B.A. Time Team whose members come from various places throughout Aberdeenshire and offered to help track down the gun.”

The voluntary team spent most of last week locating the gun in the at Middle Third, now owned by Albert Howie.

After stories suggesting the gun had been ‘dumped’ the dowsing team were surprised by what they found at the site last Tuesday.

One of the project leaders, Allan Brownie, told the Buchanie: “We were very surprised to find that the gun had been placed in the cave and covered up with stones, it wasn’t dumped at all.

“The whole team decided that the gun should be left there, as various signs showed us that’s where it’s meant to be. As a mark of respect we held a ceremony and laid a wreath just above where the gun rests, it was very emotional.”

The team, comprising project leaders Allan Brownie and Gordon Craig, together with Jackie Gough, Mike Mckessar, Andrew Soutar, Allan Anderson and Mark Brownie worked tirelessly to uncover the gun, 40ft down.

Allan added: “The team did a fantastic job and we would really like to thank Albert Howie for believing in us and letting us do this to his land! Maybe in another 100 years team another team will have a go. We’ve left one of our hats with all of our names on it in case someone does go back at a later date.”

Four spades to commemorate the dig were given to local historian Billy Rennie, Geordie Burnett-Stuart - whose grandfather brought the gun to Crichie - Albert Howie and Allan’s son Mark who spent hours in the digger.

The story ended last Thursday and with the help of local man Kevin Gibbins, proprietor of the Saplinbrae Hotel, which served as the team’s base, the quarry was filled in and one of the stones removed from the quarry was erected 40ft above where the gun lays to rest.

“We’re a part of history now,” Allan continued. “We’ve helped put an end to the story and confirmed that the gun is in fact here. We kept hearing stories that it was here, wasn’t here, which can put you up and down but if you keep believing in something you’ll get there in the end. This is definitely our most unusual dig to-date and we will treasure the memories. We’ve met some great people here in Stuartfield.”