The origins of the name Kinnoir are far from clear but it is likely that the name stems from a combination of the Gaelic words "ceann" meaning head or hill and "oir" meaning edge or margin. Thus Kinnoir is the the hill at the edge of (presumably) the River Deveron.
Certainly the parish has a rich history and it is believed that St Mungo ventured here in the sixth century during his missionary journey to Pictland.
The original church at Kinnoir, situated on what is now the Corse of Kinnoir farm, was dedicated to St Mungo. It was first documented in the early thirteenth century but there is speculation as to whether a church was established on the spot by St Mungo himself several centuries earlier..
The position of the original church can still be seen within the kirkyard but sadly only a small part of the north wall is still visible. The kirkyard however is kept in good condition and the headstones give us a fascinating glimpse of the lives (and deaths) of the parishioners through the ages.
Throughout much of its history Kinnoir Kirk shared its minister with the kirk at Dunbennan on the other side of Huntly however, as the more industrialised area at Huntly increased in prominence, the two parishes were merged into the Parish of Huntly. When a new church was built at Huntly in 1727, the old Kinnoir Kirk ceased to be used, however the kirkyard was still well maintained with burials taking place there right up to the end of the 20th century.
The area was once part of the vast Gordon Estate and in the 15th and 16th centuries the Gordons were exceptionally rich and owned lands from Stonehaven to Nairn - including Huntly and Kinnoir. They were friends of King James but it is thought that their wealth exceeded even that of their royal patron.
The forests of Kinnoir at that time would have been broadleaf forests of beech and oak rather than the coniferous forests of today. The entire area of Kinnoir was almost certainly a hunting forest for the pleasure of the Gordons and their guests while staying at Huntly Castle.
Photo courtesy of Jim Morrison
Evidence exits of life from even earlier times although this has never been fully researched.
However, while clearing a ditch on the Mungo Hill prior to the Second World War, Danny Alexander uncovered this finely polished axe head which certainly points to the existence of human life in Kinnoir significantly earlier than the arrival of St Mungo.
Photo courtesy of Jim Morrison
The Rev. John Scroggie presided over the new Parish of Huntly at its inception but, upon his death, The Rev. Robert Innes took over and was Minister of the Gospel at Huntly from 1740 until 1800.
The Rev, John Scroggie had been a much respected minister in the Parish but less respect was shown to the Rev. Robert Innes after he assumed the role. Mr Scroggie’s manse had been at Arnhall (near Dunbennan) but, upon his death, the Dowager Duchess laid claim to the manse leaving The Rev Innes homeless until the session found him a house in West Park in Huntly. This was by no means as palatial as the former manse but the Rev. Innes seemed to have accepted his lot.
The merger of Kinnoir into the Parish of Huntly also had the “sharks circling” and the Duke was able to purchase the “glebe of Kinnoir” (i.e. the portion of land given or leased to the minister to allow him to generate an income for himself and to further his works.). The map below shows the extent of land that the Rev. Innes lost
Dunbennan Cemetery. Wikipedia Commons - Anne Burgess
This left the Rev. Innes with only a small glebe at Dunbennan and it was not until some 33 years later that the Duke gave instructions to his factor to secure a new glebe for the minister. (Presumably by this time he had proved his worth in the Parish!)
The Rev. Innes appeared to have been a humble man and was very involved in helping the poor which was not necessarily a role that Parish Ministers saw as their own.
Thanks to Patrick Scott for his historical input.