18th century, altered and rebuilt 1817 (dated) and later, kiln added possibly early 19th century, restored and wheel renewed 1987-95. Rare survival of small 2- storey, L-plan, water-powered, piend-roofed, working meal mill with attached kiln and outside overshot wheel and interior in full working order (2009). Rural mill complex on sheltered site beside Burn of Benholm below weirs at confluence with Castle Burn to NW. Site comprises mill dam and lade, former miller's house (café), byre (toilets), barn (workshop) and old grain store (miller's office) all converted but retaining traditional appearance. Snecked rubble with roughly squared dressings, some timber lintels and brick infill.
MILL: single storey entrance elevation to N with door breaking eaves under catslide roof in bay to left of centre, small window abutting eaves to right and evidence of kiln extension at outer right; further tiny opening close to ground at left. 2-storey S (burn) elevation with distinctive kiln stonework at left, door with lintel carved 'William Davidson 1817' at right and projecting bay at pouter right. Water wheel at E.
MILL POND, LADE AND SLUICES: dual sluice system at confluence of Castle Burn and Burn of Benholm (to NW) diverts water to mill lade and dam; further sluice at E end of dam flows below roadway to trowse (lade).
FORMER MILLER'S HOUSE (CAFÉ): single storey, 3-bay, rectangular-plan, range with asymmetrical entrance elevation to E and symmetrical 3-bay elevation to W.
FORMER BYRE (TOILETS): small single storey, 3-bay, rectangular-plan range facing burn and forming L-plan adjoining lean- to at NE angle of café.
OLD GRAIN STORE: small single storey, 3-bay, rectangular-plan, piend-roofed range to NE.
Small-pane glazing patterns in fixed and casement timber windows throughout. Grey slates.
INTERIOR: remarkable survival of interior workings. Upper floor with 2 pairs of anti-clockwise rotational millstones (47'' diameter segmented French burr stones) and lower floor with fanner and shaker and meal sieve and fanner. Other machinery includes chain hoist, 2 bucket elevators, sieves and sack hoists.
WHEEL: 12' diameter cast iron wheel with timber cogs, 32 timber buckets and 8 timber spokes. Axle bushes of phosphor bronze. Steel axle connects waterwheel to pit wheel.
Statement of Special Interest
In the ownership of Aberdeenshire Council. Now (2009) run by the Council as a visitor centre.
The Mill of Benholm is an exceptional and rare survival. While hundreds of water mills across Scotland have fallen out of use or been demolished, the Mill of Benholm has survived in full working order. It is one of very few water-powered meal mills in Scotland still in use in 2009.
The history of milling on this site dates back to the 12th century. Water-powered horizontal mills for grinding corn have been known in Scotland since the 7th century, and larger mills running vertical wheels were introduced in the 17th century. The mill at Benholm was estate owned and has evolved as would be expected for this small rural type. With improvement and industrialisation of farming methods and technology the requirement for more efficient grain drying led in many cases to the addition of an attached kiln. With its firebox built into a former doorway at the original western outer wall, the attached kiln at Benholm, is significantly larger than the archaeological remains of a circular kiln discovered near the dam. Circular kilns, which were still widespread in 1730, were made from a ''framework of boughs (kiln-ribs) which supported a platform of heather or straw (kiln-head) upon which the grain was laid out'' (Shaw, p115).
Mr Lindsay Watson took over the lease of Benholm Mill in 1929, and worked here until his death in 1951. At that time his son Mr Lindsay C Watson purchased the mill and worked it commercially until 1982. Combine harvesting had led to the kiln being in high demand for drying barley, and with the market for oatmeal declining, Mr Watson continued by producing animal feeds. On occasion the mill doubled as a film set, including Long Rob's mill in Lewis Grassic Gibbon's Sunset Song. Mr Watson died in 1983 and the mill was purchased by Kincardine & Deeside District Council in 1986. After complete restoration, it was opened as a visitor centre by Councillor Jenny M S Robertson on 6 July 1995.
During renovation from 1987-95, the lade, weirs and stream banks were repaired and the former grain store was partly rebuilt. Some original details were lost, including the Carmyllie stone flag roof to part of the mill building, and the waterwheel was rebuilt using modern materials. Current research has shown that the decline in numbers of working rural mills across Scotland has left a mere handful of examples capable of milling, and Benholm has retained many fine early features as well as complete functionality. This combination elevates its architectural and historical significance in listing terms.
The listing for Mill of Benholm was reviewed in the context of the similarly working Barry Mill in Angus and in comparison with water mill listings throughout Scotland.
List description revised and category changed from B to A 2009.