Pitsligo Castle Trust and The Friends of Pitsligo Castle.

pitligo castle model
Model depicting Pitsligo Castle in the late 17th Century. View from west.

The Pitsligo Castle Trust was formed in 1995 to take ownership of the great courtyard Castle of Pitsligo at Rosehearty in Aberdeenshire from the estate of the late Malcolm Forbes of New York.

The Friends of Pitsligo Castle were formed in 1997 as a group to support the Trust in its activities.   In 2002 the Trust became owners of the Pitsligo Parish Kirk at Peathill, Rosehearty.

The aim of both the Trust and the Friends is to secure the future of the castle and its gardens and to create a centre in the former Kirk which tells the story of the Jacobites and the history of Scottish heraldry.

pitsligo castle trust coat of arms The Pitsligo Castle Trust was granted Arms in 2005 consisting of blue and white, the national colours of Scotland, with three roses to represent James VII, James VIII and Prince Charles Edward Stewart.    The castellated line symbolises the Castle and the open crown represents the Royal House of Stewart.

friends of pitsligo badge The Friends were the first group to adopt a badge based on a Jacobite rose with a bear’s head taken from the coat of arms of the Forbes lairds who occupied the Castle.

The History of Pitsligo Castle and Family

pitsligo castle model south west view Model of the castle - view from the south-west.

pitsligo coat of arm in masonary lord pitsligo arms illustration pitsligo lairds loft

The family of Forbes of Pitsligo inherited their lands around Rosehearty through marriage with the Frasers of Philorth in 1424.    The importance of this union is reflected in their coat of arms which consists of Forbes and Fraser heraldry.

The eighth laird of Pitsligo, Alexander, was created Lord Forbes of Pitsligo in 1633 following an Act of the Scottish Parliament which established the parish of Pitsligo.  Lord Forbes built the first parish kirk which incorporated a superb Laird’s Loft with a burial vault below.    He also began to improve Pitsligo Castle.

Lord Forbes and his descendants were staunch supporters of the Royal House of Stewart.    The fourth and last Lord Forbes of Pitsligo, 1678 – 1762, forfeited his lands and title because of his support for the Jacobite cause.   He was ‘out’ in both the 1715 and 1745 uprisings and although declared an outlaw with a bounty on his head and forced into hiding in different parts of Buchan he was never betrayed.   He died peacefully in his son’s house near Rathen, Fraserburgh.

the original keep at Pitsligo Castle
Apart from the original keep, the other substantial part of the Castle remaining is the north-west section with an oblong newel stair tower and circular tower.

The original castle consisted of a massive tower constructed about 1424.    The 1st Lord Pitsligo began to enlarge the castle around a courtyard in 1635.

Model of Pitsligo Castle - south-east view

The 2nd Lord Pitsligo continued with the improvements which were finished by 1663.    Pitsligo Castle was one of the finest residences in the north-east of Scotland with excellent interior furnishings and fittings.  All windows were glazed.



pitsligo castle heraldic coat of arms

The stair tower is decorated with two heraldic panels. The first, dated 1577, bears the Royal Arms of Scotland, the second is dated the year James VI of Scotland became King of England and carries the new coat of arms of Great Britain.

The impaled arms of Alexander, 2nd Lord Forbes of Pitsligo, and his wife Mary Erskine, daughter of James, Earl of Buchan. This heraldic carving is situated on the west front of the Castle and indicates the year the improvement work was completed by the Lord Forbes and his Lady.

Pitsligo Castle Consolidation Proposal

pitsligo castle site map

Pitsligo Castle suffered after the Battle of Culloden and was pillaged by Hanoverian troops.   By the end of the 19th century it was a roofless ruin.  After consultation with Historic Scotland the Trust has agreed to consolidate the structure.

This work will take time and money.
Both the Trust, and the Friends, urge you to consider lending your support by:
Click HERE to contact us for more information.

Elevated walkways in the castle will provide a closer view of the structure and gardens, and explanatory panels will inform the visitor of the architectural and landscape features.   The extensive castle gardens will be recreated to form the Great Garden of Pitsligo.    The associated woodland to the south of the castle will be restocked with native species and managed as a small local nature reserve.


Website: Virtual Eye Media
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