As promised here’s a new post documenting my travels to historic places in Scotland. I have so far visited several castles (and one abbey) and will write about them in the next few months.
On an unusually frosty January day I took a trip to Toquhon Castle, just outside Aberdeen. The castle itself was closed for the season, but the grounds were still accessible and provided a great taste of that (relatively) small but charming former seat of the Forbes family.
The original building on the site was Preston Tower, built in the early 1400s, which was a tower house, a popular dwelling type in the wilder parts of Scotland and Ireland in medieval times. The castle proper was built the 1500s by Sir William Forbes as an extension of the tower house to provide more comfortable
accommodations for his family.
Partially in ruins now, the two-story castle was arranged around a central courtyard accessible through an elaborate gate, which fortunately survives intact. Clearly the castle was intended as a place where Forbes and his wife would entertain as, according to historical records, among some of the more illustrious guests was King James VI who visited Tolquhon in 1589.
For me, one of the more interesting and unexpected finds was a set of recesses in one of the outside walls, filled with what looked like small wicker baskets. It turns out they are replicas of the beehives the laird used to keep there. Who knew?
Compared to some other Scottish castles, Tolquhon is not large and its grounds are not extensive. However, that only adds to its charm and intimacy, making it a perfect place to visit on a Sunday afternoon to enjoy a bit of history and the rolling Grampian countryside that manages to remain green even at the height of winter.
The castle remained in the hands of Forbes’s descendants until 1718, and is now a registered historical monument.