The grey stone village of New Deer is home to around 750 people and stands just over 25 miles north of Aberdeen. Enjoying a focal location in Buchan, it lies almost centrally within a ring of settlements comprising Turriff, Banff, Fraserburgh, Peterhead Ellon and Oldmeldrum.
New Deer reflects this central location by acting as a meeting point for a number of roads through Buchan. As a result the village is home to a variety of shops and other facilities intended to serve both the village itself and the surrounding agricultural area.
The story of New Deer begins in the 580s when St Drostan, a follower of St Columba, set up a monastery at Deer, six miles to the east. Some time later, St Kane left the monastery to establish a chapel at a place that became called Auchreddie, which in Gaelic means "place of the bog myrtle". Over time, a settlement grew up around the chapel, and it, too, took the name Auchreddie.
In 1219 Deer Abbey was founded by William Comyn, the Earl of Buchan, not far from the site of St Drostan's earlier monastery. At some time not long afterwards, it seems that the Abbey replaced the earlier chapel in Auchreddie with a new building. In 1503, the Abbey divided the existing single parish into two, with a "new" parish of Deer (or "Deir") being carved out of the western half of the existing parish.
What was left became known as Old Deer or Deir. Over the years, "New Deer" came to replace Auchreddie as the village name, though the map continues to show a Mill of Auchreddie on the river a short distance to the east of New Deer.
Most of what you see today in New Deer dates back to its expansion as a planned village by James Ferguson of Pitfour in the year from 1805. James Ferguson also built three other new villages on his lands in Buchan and their typical plan involved a number of residential streets built around a central square.
Perhaps because New Deer was being built around an existing settlement, or perhaps because of the topography, it came out rather differently. What emerged was a single long street extending nearly half a mile north from the river valley. At its southern end was the old village centre, including the site of the ancient chapel, and here there was a less regular street pattern.
New Deer is today home to three churches, though only one, St Kane's, continues as a place of worship. In doing so, it continues a tradition which extends back all the way to St Kane's day, for the old kirkyard opposite is believed to be the location of the chapel he established here. The fine old church which stands on the east side of Main Street has found other uses.
If you follow Main Street north out of New Deer, you find yourself at the prominently located Culsh Monument, complete with its church-like spire. This was erected in 1875 in memory of William Dingwall Fordyce, who had served as an MP for Aberdeenshire.