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Side view of Castle Forbes

Castle Forbes, Seat of the Clan Chief

Castle Forbes is a 19th-century country house in the Scottish baronial architecture style near Alford in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The 6,000 acres Castle Forbes Estate in Aberdeenshire is the seat of the Chief of the Forbes Clan. The Earl of Mar granted the lands to Sir Alexander Forbes (later the 1st Lord Forbes) in 1411 for his part in the defeat of Donald of the Isles at the Battle of Harlaw. Castle Forbes occupies a commanding position in parkland at the heart of the estate overlooking the river Don and the Howe of Alford with the hill of Bennachie behind. The original house was named Putachie.

The present castle overlooking the River Don was built in 1815 by James Ochonocar Forbes, 17th Lord Forbes (1765 – 1843.) In 1807, the original architect John Paterson wanted to build on a new site below the old house due to drainage and landscaping factors. Lord Forbes disagreed and hired architect Archibald Simpson to incorporate the old house into the new. The old house can be seen between the square and the round tower on the main front. However, after Simpson encountered structural problems and the original section of the house (probably from c. 1600) began to crack, Simpson was dismissed and the work was completed in 1818 by the City Architect of Aberdeen, John Smith.

Courtyard of Castle Forbes


Castle Forbes lounge (living room)


Tapestry embroidered by Mary, Queen of Scots, and her ladies-in-waiting, during her house arrest at Bolton Castle around 1568.


Map of Castle Forbes estate with Castle, gardens, stone circle,

offices, kirkyard, and castle.

In notes preserved by his wife, Master of Forbes, James (1796- 1835) recounted some of his memories of the construction Castle Forbes. For example, “A large ash tree, which stood very near where the present one stands by the terrace, was cut down and used as a beam in the dining room.” He also confirmed that the bear’s head stone over the fireplace was found at Logie-Braes of Forbes” and “was taken out of the wall above the back gate of the old house of Putachie.” Lord Forbes was devoted to his woods and between the years 1805 and 1814 he planted over 6,888,360 trees on the property.

Atholl Laurence Cunyngham, 21st Lord Forbes (1882 – 1953), modernized the castle by installing bathrooms, wash-hand basins, central heating, and electricity from a turbine at the old sawmill on the River Don. This remained till main electricity was connected after 1945. In World War II between 1939 and 1945, Lord Forbes loaned Castle Forbes to the Department of Health as an Auxiliary Hospital for convalescent servicemen.

Today, Castle Forbes estate is managed by Clan Chief Malcolm Forbes, 23rd Lord Forbes and his wife Jinny, Lady Forbes. During an online Clan Forbes Gathering in October 2021, Lord Forbes provided a tour of the castle and answered questions posed by the participants of the Clan Gathering. 

Portrait of Nigel Ivan, 22nd Lord Forbes 

See more portraits in Castle Forbes here.

Former dairy barn, converted to perfumery 


Castle Forbes Perfumery

In 1996, a former dairy building was converted into a small perfumery. Castle Forbes became one of the smallest and most exclusive private family perfumeries in the world. The perfumery's mission is to create a selection of unique scents that captured the essence of the castle and the surrounding landscapes. Castle Forbes has now developed the ultimate range of male grooming products and fine fragrances which are renowned for their quality and performance.


Cothiemuir Hill: Woodland Burial Ground


Cothiemuir Hill is a haven of peace and natural beauty at the heart of the historic Forbes Estate. For over 4,500 years, the site has been dominated by a Neolithic stone circle. Today, Cothiemuir Hill serves as a fully sustainable natural burial ground. Only small, locally- sourced memorial stones are permitted in the five sections: Oak, Rowan, Ash, Blackthorn, and Beech. Cothiemuir Hill offers a peaceful final resting place in beautiful countryside for all clan members. For more information, please see the Cothiemuir Hill Brochure

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