Kemnay is located 16 miles west of Aberdeen and 5 miles south of Inverurie Town. It has long been believed that the name ‘Kemnay’ comes from the Gaelic ceann a’ maigh meaning head of the plain (Place names of Scotland, James B. Johnston, ISBN 0 845409 634 5). The beginnings of the settlement remain a mystery but the many archaeological features such as stone circles and Roman encampments nearby indicate a long period of habitation.
One of the earliest existing buildings is Kemnay House. Information derived from the Burnett Archive shows that the present building was erected during the tenure of Alexander Crombie, around 1644 and has undergone several makeovers throughout the intervening three centuries, most notably during the 1830s. The population of Kemnay was small until the early years of the 20th century when it was about 600 and the village began to develop, the population reaching about 3500 by the end of the century. The Quarry producing the famous Kemnay granite was opened in 1830, became commercial under John Fyfe in 1858 and the stone was used in many famous buildings including Princes Street Edinburgh, the Forth Railway Bridge, the Thames Embankment, the London Cenotaph, The Town House and Marischal College Aberdeen, The Liver Building, Liverpool and more recently The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh. The main product now is ‘Fyfestone’ a reconstituted granite facing block.
To celebrate John Fyfe Ltd. 150th Anniversary of Quarrying at Kemnay, three Artists John Maine, Brad Goldberg and Glen Onwin were commissioned to construct Place Of Origin defined as Art in the landscape, which shares an aesthetic with a Japanese garden – it reflects the larger landscape it sits in, translated as ‘borrowed landscape’. The project was commenced in 1996 and completed in 2006 when it was officially opened by HRH The Duke of Kent. This imposing structure not only provides an elevated viewpoint for Kemnay Quarry and the surrounding area, it also forms a magnificent landscape feature when entering the village from the east. To read more articles about the history of Kemnay see our “History” section.
With the advent of the North Sea oil industry the village was virtually doubled in size in the 1970’s by the building of 640 prefabricated timber houses and the population, now over 4000, is largely employed in Aberdeen and its surrounds.
The railway from Aberdeen to Alford with a station in Kemnay was completed in 1859 and served the village well for many years. However, it was closed to passenger traffic in 1950 and all that now remains are railway bridges and embankments.
The population of Kemnay continues to increase, with a development of 54 houses presently being constructed at Fyfe Park. A further 85 houses are scheduled for development during the period 2017 – 2023. The Medical Centre provides a modern comfortable facility for patients and staff but is at full capacity. Land has therefore been identified for the possible construction of a new facility at some future date.
Educational facilities are provided by way of Kemnay Academy and two Primary schools. At the centre of the village is a thriving Village Hall catering for many activities including theatre presentations, film nights, dance and exercises classes and many club events. Other leisure facilities include Kemnay Golf Club with an 18 hole Golf Course, football pitches, cricket pitch, tennis courts, bowling green, Park with play equipment and skate-park and also fishing on the River Don.