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Royal Deeside : History 1000-1800AD


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Shortly before William the Conqueror invaded England, Malcolm Canmore defeated Macbeth in a battle near Lumphanan in 1057. The head of Macbeth was supposedly handed on a plate to Canmore at Kincardine o' Neil. Deeside was then thickly wooded and often used for hunting by the Scottish kings and their allies. Much of the valley was part of the Earldom of Mar but by the early thirteenth century only the western part of the valley belonged to the Earldom, the eastern end being divided into estates such as Drum and Crathes .

For several hundred years the history of the valley was much affected by wars between England and Scotland, changing allegiances and straightforward territorial disputes. At regular intervals down the valley great castles and fortified homes were built. The names associated with these castles have a potent Scottish ring to them -although none began with 'Mac'. They include Irvine of Drum Castle, Burnett of Crathes, Innes of Raemoir, Douglas of Tilquhillie, Gordons of Aboyne (and of Abergeldie), Forbes of Craigievar, Farquharson of Monaltrie and Invercauld and Erskine of Mar. (The names of the main hotels in Deeside reflect this history although two, Huntly Arms at Aboyne and Fife Arms at Braemar, were so-named because the lairds were also the Marquis of Huntly and Duke of Fife respectively.)

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Page Before 1000AD 1000-1800AD From 1800AD

Drum Castle, Royal Deeside
Drum Castle by Drumoak is managed by the National Trust for Scotland

The most important battle was that fought at Culblean by Loch Kinord in 1332. In support of the English King, the Earl of Athole besieged Kildrummy Castle. Sir Andrew Moray, the Scottish Regent led an army to relieve the castle. The two sides met at Culblean and Athole was killed and his army defeated.

In 1603 the crowns of England and Scotland were united when James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne to become James I of England. In 1707 the two Kingdoms were united after the exile of James VII (II).In support of James VIII, the sixth Earl of Mar led the rebellion of 1715, hoisting the standard at Braemar. The rebellion was a failure. After the later rebellion in support of 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' in 1745 the area was seriously repressed for some 40 years. However from about 1790 the economic activity started to increase. (It was just about this time that the future Lord Byron stayed in the valley.)

The Bridge at Gairnshiel is part of the old military road - now the A939

Francis Farquharson, founder of Ballater, had a colourful life. Captured in 1745 at Culloden, he was taken to London and there condemned to death. Reprieved, he spent nearly 40 years in exile. He re-purchased his lands in 1784 and set about improving them, developing Pannanich Wells as a spa. He began the building of Ballater in support of the spa. He died in 1790 and his nephew William continued his work.

Around 1800 Banchory moved to its current location and Ballater was born. By 1861 Queen Victoria had purchased Balmoral, the railway had reached Deeside and Royal Deeside as we know it today was taking shape.

The old coaching inn at Inver dates back to a time when travelling was much tougher


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Introduction A History of Royal Deeside The Deeside Railway The Old Military Road Old Kirkyardst
Queen Victoria and Royal Deeside John Brown, Loyal Servant Francis Farquharson Lord Byron, poet Alexander Gordon
Macbeth and Braemar Braemar Gathering and Highland Games History of Braemar Clan Farquharson Bridges of Ballater
19th Century Ballater History of Dinnet area Aboyne History Aboyne Wartime Poetry Aboyne Great War Records
History of Dinnet History of Tarland Scott Skinner, the Strathspey King Glen O' Dee Hospital Brunel's Bridge
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