Templars: see Knights Templars.
Templars' Park Scout Campsite is situated on the south bank of the River Dee about 8 miles west from the City of Aberdeen. It lies within the Kincardineshire parish of Maryculter and from Aberdeen is reached either by the South Deeside Road (A 943) or the North Deeside Road (A 93). Templars' Park is the property of the City of Aberdeen Scout Council, which is part of the Scout Association and is maintained as a private campsite for members of the Scouting and Guiding organisations.

Templars' Park, formerly the home-park of Maryculter House, was purchased by the City of Aberdeen Boy Scouts' Association in December, 1935. The following year, it was opened by Baden-Powell as a Camping Ground for Scouts and in over 70 years of its existence, Templars' Park has been visited by thousands of boys, and more recently girls, from a great many countries.

Templars' Park is one of most interesting Camping Grounds in the country. It has a long and fascinating history and is rich in legendary lore. Templars' Park provides excellent facilities and, on account of its location on Royal Deeside, makes an ideal centre from which to explore the valley and make expeditions to the Grampian and Cairngorm Mountains.

Early History

Traces of early peoples from the Stone Age to the Iron Age has been found in and around the Templars' park area. The first recorded "camper" in the Templars' Park district was the Roman Emperor, Septimius Severus. He visited the area in the year A.D.210 during a large-scale raid which extended northwards as far as the Moray Firth. The Roman Legions forded the River Dee at Tilbouries, just west of Templars' Park, and on the high ground on the north bank of the river built a great marching-camp capable of accommodating 12,000 men. This Roman camp-site is known as Norman-dykes and its outline can still be traced.

The Templar Connection

Lying along both banks of the River Dee, the Lands of Culter originally included the parishes of Peterculter and Maryculter. However, about the year 1187, King William the Lion (William I of Scotland) granted part of the Culter lands—the portion lying on the south bank of the river—to the Knights Templars, the part on the north bank being then possessed by the Durward family, the hereditary Door-wards to the Kings of Scotland.

Between the years 1221 and 1236, Walter Bisset of Aboyne founded a Preceptory for the Knights Templars on their Culter property and here, in 1287-88, the Templars built a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Sometime before this date, a church was built on the Durward's lands on the north bank of the river and this was dedicated to St. Peter. Hence today, there are two adjacent parishes separated by the River Dee—Peterculter in Aberdeenshire and Maryculter in Kincardineshire. Very little documentary evidence has survived of the Templars' activities at Maryculter but in the Trial of the Templars held in the Abbey of Holyrood, Edinburgh, in November, 1309, the name of William de Middleton of the "tempill house of Culther" is recorded.

The ruins of St Marys, the 13th century chapel built by the Knights Templars, lie within the old parish kirk-yard near Maryculter House. Originally a Gothic structure of considerable refinement, it is now a fragmentary ruin, the only architectural feature extant being the piscina built into the south wall. It was used as the parish church until 1780.

The Maryculter property of the Knights Templars, extending to some 8,500 acres, was eventually conferred upon the Knights Hospitallers. Both the Templars and the Hospitallers proved to be excellent landlords at Maryculter, their combined laird-ship extending over three centuries. When the Knights Hospitallers finally abandoned Maryculter in 1548 there were only six knights and a chaplain remaining in residence.

Although the Knights of St. John were in possession of Maryculter for over two centuries, little tangible evidence survives. The barrel-vaulted basement of the adjacent old House of Maryculter is said to have formed part of the Preceptor's Lodging.

More Recent Owners

About the year 1618, the Lands of Maryculter were purchased by John Menzies of Pitfodels. The Menzies family, who had been tenants of Maryculter since 1548, were closely associated with the civic life of Aberdeen. In 1426, Gilbert Menzies was Provost of the city and there after a Menzies occupied the civic chair so frequently that in the following two hundred years, the combined provost-ships of the Menzies family amounted to 112 years.

In 1811, Maryculter was acquired by General the Hon. William Gordon of Fyvie, a son of the second Earl of Aberdeen. The Gordons remained at Maryculter until 1935 when the Estate was broken up, the home-park being purchased by the City of Aberdeen Boy Scouts' Association.

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