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Loch Goul ~ Bishop's Loch ~ Deans Loch

Bishop's Loch (Loch Goul) between Loch-hills and Fowlershill. Measuring 2 by ¾ furlongs

There were 2 lochs in the south-east end of the Parish, the one remarkable for the rugged nature of the district around, and the other for its having been the scene of the residence of the Bishops of Aberdeen before the Chanonry was erected. Of this residence, which was situated on a small island within the Loch which was encompassed by woodland, mention is made in a "View of the Diocese of Aberdeen," MS. Advocates' Library, supposed to be written by Sir Samuel Forbes of Foveran, about 1720. "It looks liker a hermit's cell," observes the writer of the MS., "than a Bishop's Palace, and yet a great man lived and died there, - I mean Bishop Benham." The site of the palace may still be traced (a large Hall east to west with a large office house to the west and another at the east with the Bishops Oratory running parallel to the main Hall, as also part of a ditch connected with the drawbridge. The Loch itself, now known by the name of the Bishop's Loch, (anciently Loch Goule and otherwise Dean's Loch), is beautifully situated, well-wooded, and of considerable extent.  The water was said to be abundant with Pikes but no other kind of fish were found. 

Bishop's Manor and St Mary's Chapel
The chapel at Bishop's Manor in Loch Goul was dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  There is authentic evidence of the residence of the bishop in the early days of St Machar's Cathedral having been a 'palace' on the little promontory on the North side of Loch Goule, and it is possible when the water is low, to trace the foundations of a stone structure at this spot. According to Boece, Bishop Benham died there in 1282. (G M Fraser 1913.)  Orem, in 1724, described the site as a "large hall which stood east and west, a large office house at the west and another at the east end, and also the Bishop's Oratory." The change of name from "Loch Goule to "Bishop's Loch" is first recorded in 1620(J Cruikshank 1944.)  Situated on the promontory mentioned by Fraser are the foundations of two buildings. The irregular L-shaped foundations at are probably the "palace" with the outline of a yard on the NE, and the near-rectangular foundations are probably those of the chapel. The foundations are marked by stone and turf banks 1.0m wide and up to 0.8m high.  Drain, apparently connected to Bishop's Manor, probably early 19th century; destroyed by quarrying. (J E Beeley 1975.)  As part of the Scottish Episcopal Palaces Project, a desk-based survey of published sources relating to this site has been carried out,  Site inspection showed that although this scheduled site is now under threat from rabbits, children and growth of saplings, it remains otherwise largely as described in c1725 (Cruickshank,1943-44). It is anticipated that the site will be cleared of saplings and re-surveyed.  The manor, at which Bishop Benholm died in c1280, does not seem to be recorded accurately nor his affliction - worry or the cattarrh - during the Later Middle Ages. It is possible that it fell out of use after the Bishop's Palace in Old Aberdeen was erected early in the 14th century

James Gordon - Map of Aberdeen 1661

The 1st drainage of the Goul Loch was commenced by Henry Pouton of Hilltown who opened a ditch on the East end to draw water to run a Mill but it failed as the in the summer it dried out so that the Loch was empty and in the Winter it again re-filled.  The fuel in general use was peat and turf, procured from one or other of the mosses in the parish. Loch Goul was thought at first to be a  natural moss cut extensively for peats and then it had filled with water.

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Last modified: 01/09/2013