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This fine specimen of the Franco-Scottish fortified mansion hides itself in the unheard-of parish of Leochel, one of the most remote and pristine districts of the north. It is sometimes inhabited, and is in good preservation. Its uses, as a fortress against the Highland reiver rather than as a mere dwelling-house, are recalled by all its attributes of sullen strength, and not less startlingly by the admonition round the shield, by which the adventurous intruder is warned against the temerity of awakening sleeping dogs. All its details have been so fully developed in the accompanying plates, that a description of them is unnecessary. Not many years ago, the general effect of the edifice was destroyed by the presence of two towers, which have fortunately been removed. They were built by an architect who would not condescend to study the style of building peculiar to the north, and, being called on to make additions to a castle, could do so no otherwise than in the English baronial style. All that is now to be regretted is, that, to make room for what he probably considered decided improvements, he had altered some part of the original structure. The landscape around would be as unsuitable for the spreading pomp of an English hall, as it is in accordance with the tall narrow clustered tower. It is a succession of bare round hills, brown with heather, save where the white masses of granite crop outward, like the bones of the earth projecting through its skin. Throughout these lonely hills and glens the remains of ancient warfare are thickly scattered. Weapons, generally made of stone, are frequently dug up; the outlines of the hills are in some places altered by ancient embankments and intrenchments; a cairn marks the spot where Macbeth is said to have fallen; and near it are the ditches and embankments of a fortification, which even the sceptical Lord Hailes believed to be as old as the days of the renowned usurper. These matters, however, carry us into a far earlier period of history than any with which Craigievar Castle can be associated. The domain belonged of old to the family of Mortimer, who are said to have commenced the building of the castle, but lacked funds for its completion.* It was purchased in 1611 by William Forbes of Menie, a cadet of the worshipful family of Forbes of Corse, who had a history, then rare among the Scottish country gentlemen, as we are told that he,
by his diligent merchandising in Denmark and other parts, became extraordinary rich." completed this castle,” says the same writer, “ and plaistered it very curiously.”ť His son and successor, William, was created a baronet of Nova Scotia in 1630. Sir William Forbes was one of the few Aberdeenshire lairds who, in the troubles of the seventeenth century, adopted the cause of the Covenant. He was one of the Commissioners at the Treaty of Ripon, and a man of note, both in the field and in the cabinet, during those wild times. He frequently appears in the picturesque pages of Spalding, and his domain was subjected to such inroads as the following :-“He [John Dugar, a Highland freebooter,] did great skaith to the name of Forbes—such as the Lairds of Corse, Leslie, Craigievar, and some others; abused their bounds, and plundered their horse, nolt, sheep, goods, and geir, because they were the instruments of Gilleroy's death; and the Forbeses concluded to watch his comeing and goeing, and to get him if they might.” I
It is a remarkable circumstance, however, that many of these remote northern fortresses are
* New Statistical Account-Aberdeen, p. 1109. + View of the Diocese of Aberdeen, (Spalding Club,) p. 599.
Hist. of the Troubles, i. 85. CRAGIEVAR CASTLE, 1—2.
more eminently connected with the literature than with the warlike history of the country. A few miles on the one side of Craigievar stands Crathes, the ancestral abode of Bishop Burnett and his eminent kinsman; while on the other side Craigston recalls the name of the fantastic scholar, Sir Thomas Urquhart. Craigievar is in a similar manner connected with literature, chiefly ecclesiastical. The elder brother of the merchant who founded the family was Patrick Forbes, Bishop of Aberdeen, a man eminent for the unambitious sincerity with which he discharged the duties of his office, and held honours which were rather thrust on him than desired. Like Robert Leighton, he had the rare fortune, while filling a prelate's chair, to make himself acceptable, by his moderation, his Christian virtues, and his learning, to the enemies of Episcopacy. He was the author of some works known to the curious in ecclesiastical literature, and was the object of many able posthumous eulogies, published in a collected form as “ Funeral sermons, orations, epitaphs, and other pieces, on the death of the Right Reverend Patrick Forbes,” reprinted for the Spottiswood Club. The simple people of the district had their own way of commemorating his theological triumphs. In connexion with the ruins of his Castle at Corse, it is said, “ tradition bears, and the common people still believe, that the Devil visited the Bishop in this Castle; that they differed; and that the Devil, on his departure, carried away with him the broad side of the Castle, on the stone stairs whereof they still pretend to point out his footsteps.”* His son, John Forbes, was the leader of that band of Aberdeen Doctors who carried on a tough controversial war with the Covenanters, on whose side his cousin was doing battle with the sword. His theological works, published at Amsterdam in 1703, in two volumes folio, are well known, even beyond the circle of theological students.
* Old Stat. Account, vi. 220