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William Forbes of Tolquhon’s Cannon


Tolquhon Castle


Coat of Arms of William Forbes, 7th Lord of Tolquhon


No trip to the National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh is complete without admiring this cannon which once defended the House of Forbes Heritage Site Tolquhon Castle.

In 1420, Sir John Forbes (c. 1390 – c. 1454), third son of Sir John Forbes “of the black lip,” married Mariota (Marjory), daughter of Sir Henry Preston (c. 1368 – c. 1433), Thane of Fermartyn. In that year, Forbes and his wife took possession of Tolquhon Castle and "Preston's Tower" was built.  Upon Sir Henry’s death in 1433, Sir John, now 1st Lord of Tolquhon, inherited the lands of Tolquhon, which were half of the thanage of Fermartyn (now Formartin) which extends north from the River Don to the River Ythan. The castle was vastly extended by William Forbes, 7th Lord of Tolquhon, between 1584 and 1589. 

This cast bronze cannon is one of four identical cannons probably cast by a local founder for use in the castle.  Two are on display in the National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh. They bear the arms and initials of William Forbes, 7th Lord of Tolquhon, and the date 1588.

The castle was inherited by William Gordon, 2nd Earl of Aberdeen (1679 – 1746), who also owned Haddo House. He used the once grand stronghold as a farmhouse. The castle was eventually abandoned in the middle of the 19th century. In 1929, the site was transferred to the state and is now managed by Historic Environment Scotland.

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