The history of the land
The land has belonged to the Chief of the Forbes clan since the early 15th century when it was granted to Alexander, 1st Lord Forbes for his part in preventing Donald of the Isles reaching Aberdeen at the battle of Harlaw in 1411. The current Lord Forbes is the 23rd and because the title is the oldest Scottishlordship still in existence is also known as the Premier Lord of Scotland.
Castle Forbes sits at the centre of this rural estate which extends to 6,000 acres. The principal activities are agriculture (arable and grassland) and forestry. The river Don, noted particularly for its brown trout, bisects the estate with the castle itself situated on the north bank with a view of the magnificent Thomas Telford-designed Keig Bridge and the iconic hill of Bennachie behind.
The heather-clad western flank of Bennachie, which is part of the estate, is close to the Cothiemuir Hill Natural Burial Ground, making it a favourite resting place for those with a fondness for Aberdeenshire’s landmark hill.
The burial ground was set up as a result of a discussion between Lady Forbes and one of the estate’s fishing tenants who was interested in locating a site for a resting place in a quiet rural setting preferably near a river. Lord Forbes is the custodian at the burial ground, and is happy to meet you there for a guided tour and will also attend the burials held at the site.
The location was chosen because of its secluded location with a view of Bennachie and its relative proximity to a public road and one of two stone circles on the estate. As the hardwood trees in the burial ground next to the ancient pinewood have matured, a variety of wildlife has been attracted to it including red squirrels, pine martens, both red and roe deer, badgers and foxes. One of three breeding pairs of ospreys on the estate are sometimes seen flying overhead and there are buzzards’ nests in the adjacent woodland. The site is managed to encourage a proliferation of wildflowers in the spring and summer.