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Pitfichie Castle

Pitfichie Castle, just seven miles from Castle Forbes, was built around 1560 by the Hurrie (or Urrie) family then sold in 1597 to John Cheyne of Fortrie. Sir John Forbes of Monymusk, 3rd Baronet (1640 – 1700), received a Crown Charter of Pitfichie in 1661 and gave the estate to his eldest son of his second marriage, John Forbes (1680 – 1716). In 1711, John purchased the estate of Upper Boyndlie in Buchan from Alexander Forbes, 4th Lord Pitsligo (1680 – 1762) and was known as John Forbes of Upper Boyndlie.

John Forbes of Upper Boyndie was instrumental in funding the 1715 Jacobite uprising lead by John Erskine, Earl of Mar (1675–1732). Jacobite was the term used for loyalists of the deposed King James VII and II, based on “Jacobus,” the Latin term for James. John Forbes collected the tax (or “cess”) for the Scottish government from Aberdeenshire landowners and “being a convinced Jacobite and recognising James Stuart as his lawful sovereign, naturally put all the machinery of his office at the disposal of Mar.” (Tayler, Alistair and Henrietta; The Jacobite Cess Roll for the County of Aberdeen in 1715, Third Spalding Club, 1932.)

The rebellion was crushed only a year later in 1716. His wife Susanna Morison Forbes recorded a memorial many years after his death: "In 1716 after sculking about in the Country for some months he found himself obliged, as many others were, to go out of the Island for some time at least, that he should see in what shape matters would settle and accordingly he left Scotland about the middle of November that year and in a few days after was unluckily washed overboard and drowned in a storm upon the Coast of Scotland, leaving four daughters, Christian, Barbara, Mary and Margaret, and three sons, Theodore, John and George, and the Memoralist with child of a fifth daughter who was born after his death and named Elizabeth.” (Monymusk Papers at Fettercairn.)

His eldest stepbrother, Sir William Forbes of Monymusk, 4th Baronet, was the last recorded resident of Pitfichie Castle. He became bankrupt in 1712 and he sold the Monymusk estate to Sir Francis Grant, Lord Cullen, 1st Baronet, in 1713. John Forbes’s sons each successively inherited the Pitfichie estate: Theodore Forbes, 2nd of Boyndlie (1711 – 1736); John Forbes, 3rd of Boyndlie (1712 – 1751); and George Forbes, 4th of Boyndlie (1715 – 1794). The youngest son George eventually sold Pitfichie in about 1770 to the son of Lord Cullen, Sir Archibald Grant, 2nd Baronet. However, by 1796, the castle was unroofed and derelict.

The castle remained a ruin until purchased by Colin Wood in 1978. He engaged the architect Bill Cowie and master mason Slessor Troup to restore the castle. The work was not completed until 1996.

Built in harled rubble, the castle is three stories tall. The ground floor is vaulted and the first and second floors include large slit windows. The roof is steeply pitched with crowstepped gables containing an attic and garret. At the southeast angle rises a large four-story drum tower with a conical roof. The ground floor includes a kitchen with hearth and oven, with an adjacent cellar. The first floor hold tha main hall with the laird's private chamber within the circular tower. (Sharples, Joseph; Walker, David W.; and Woodsworth, Matthew. 2015. The Buildings of Scotland: Aberdeenshire: South and Aberdeen. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.)

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