Investigations were continuing into the cause of a house fire which was understood to have claimed the life of the occupant.
More than half a dozen fire units from Alford, Huntly and Insch attended the unexplained blaze, at Cairndard Croft, midway between Rhynie and Clatt, after a nearby resident spotted smoke and flames on the hilltop at 4.30pm on Friday (Jaunary 27).
The secluded cottage was well alight when fire crews arrived and such was the intensity of the blaze, firefighters were unable to gain entry.
As fire crews battled the flames, local residents said they feared for the woman who lived alone in the cottage with her pets. She was named locally as 84-year-old Joan Robinson.
Fire crews were forced to ferry water from a hydrant at Rhynie up an icy hillside track to the inferno. A water carrier was also called in from Turriff to provide a supply of water for the hoses.
Police later confirmed that human remains were recovered from the address, although no identification was immediately made.
Enquiries were continuing and a joint Police and Fire & Rescue Service investigation will be carried out to determine the cause.