Forres was confirmed as a Royal Burgh around the year 1496; it has been recorded that Forres had its own Royal Castle originally built in 900AD, possibly from the time of Kenneth McAlpine the first king of united Scotland.
After William I became King of Scotland in 1165, the castle at Forres served as a hunting lodge for royalty. Today the mound, which is known as castlehill is still there, but unfortunately over the years the remains of the castle have all been removed.
The local area is steeped in history from the Pictish era. At the east end of the town stands a Picto-Scottish 21 foot tall obelisk called ‘Sueno’s Stone’ and probably dates to around 980 AD and is the largest sculptured stone in Europe. Many theories abound as to what the carved scene depicts but the most probable is that it shows a defeat of the men of Moray by Gaelicised Picts from the south.
The runes carved on the stone still mystify scholars today, one side is carved with a large ring-headed cross, the other side is divided into four panels depicting what appears to be a large but unknown battle scene which could possibly have been fought closeby.
The ancient royal burgh of Forres has links with MacBeth. Before he became king of Scotland he fought Duncan near Pitgaveny where Duncan was killed on 10 August 1040. MacBeth was immediately crowned at Scone to legitimise his position and he ruled over Moray from his castle in Forres. Originally built at the west end of Forres high street the castle no longer remains but the area still bears the name ‘Castlehill’.
Visit the Castle page to find out more about some of the most interesting castles around the area.
The Falconer Museum; was built from a bequest by Alexander and Hugh Falconer to house a large collection of fossils. It was named after Hugh Falconer; in the 19th century he was a distinguished geologist, botanist, palaeontologist and paleoanthropologist. Hugh Falconer MD, spent much of his life studying the geology, plant and animal life of India, Assam and Burma.
The Friends of the Falconer Museum are very much involved in project undertaking an oral history project recording memories from local people about different aspects of life in and around Forres.
Click here to view The Falconer Museum – website.
The Battle of Culloden – One of the most famous battles in scotland. The battle itself took place on the 16th April 1746 on a bleak, windswept moor just to the south of Inverness, about 30 miles to the west of forres. The Battle of Culloden
Cawdor Castle – dates from the late 14th century and was built as a private fortress by the Thanes of Cawdor. The impressive castle and gardens are open to visitors.
Visit the official Cawdor Castle website
Fort George – Following the 1746 defeat at Culloden of Bonnie Prince Charlie, George II created the ultimate defence against further Jacobite unrest.
Visit the official Fort George website
The Wolf of Badenoch Alexander Stewart
“The Wolf of Badenoch” was the fourth son of King Robert II of Scotland and the most powerful lord in the north of Scotland. He held many titles including Earl of Buchan, Lord of Ross and Badenoch, Justicier of Scotia and King’s Lietenant of the North.
His use of Gaelic mercenaries to enforce his lawless ways made him many enemies including his own brother Robert, Earl of Fife and Guardian of Scotland. He deserted his wife Euphemia, Countess of Ross and was instructed by the Bishop of Moray in 1390 to return to her on pain of excommunication. Enraged by this the Wolf descended from his island castle in Lochindorb and firstly burned Forres and a month later burned Elgin along with the bishop’s cathedral.
He died in 1405 and was buried at Dunkeld Cathedral, in Perthshire.