eARLY HISTORY

Around the area of Rosehearty there is some evidence of an early civilisation

Over 20 years ago Stewart Duncan uncovered a stone grave at Stonebriggs farm while ploughing. The late Bob Bandeen stated that it was an important archaeological discovery and estimated it to be 2500 years old and belonging to the Beaker People. A little distance away on the same farm a similar grave had been discovered two years earlier. Across the next field so many fine examples of flint arrowheads and partly shaped ones were found that experts believed the field had once been a “flint factory”.

Only yards from these sites, at Craigiefold, is the remains of a small cairn on a sharp bend which now appears as part of the field, being covered in grass. This is known as the “Cat’s Cairn”. On the same road just beyond Peathill hamlet is the last remaining “Cairn of Puttulie”, which is again situated on a sharp corner and like the latter is barely recognisable.

Some wrongly believe the Cairnhill to be named after the erection of the parish war memorial. Early maps reveal this name without evidence of why it was named, although it was more likely to be in recognition of similar early historic sites.

Not far beyond the summit of the Cairnhill is the “Roon Wid”. This ring was believed to form part of this ancient link although we have found no proof of this.

Then a few miles from here earlier writers recorded there were many mounds at Coburty. However, one burial mound was near the farm of Coburty last century.

Therefore, evidence there was and still remains of these earlier times. A perfect example of these burial mounds can be seen at Memsie.

It is a great pity that little is known about this ancient race who left us practically only stone mounds and circles to remember them by.

Pitsligo Family

Sir William Forbes of Kinaldly, who was the second son of Sir John Forbes of Druminnor, became the founder of the Pitsligo family.

He obtained the lands of Pitsligo when he married Agnes Fraser of Philorth in 1423. The following year Sir William built the massive oblong towerhouse, which was surrounded by a moat. It originally had three large rooms consisting of kitchen, dining room and sleeping quarters. The top section, including battlements, was removed for safety reasons by the last laird in 1703.

The castle underwent major improvements in the 1570s by Sir Alexander the 7th Knight of Pitsligo. He witnessed the home transformed into a quadrangular keep which strengthened his fortification. This included a drum tower housing three gun loops with another four major cannon ports on the North and West wings, one on the stair tower within the forecourt. This knight died in 1587 and it was his grandson, Sir Alexander, who was raised to the peerage to become the first Lord Pitsligo on 24th June, 1633. He was responsible for the creation of Pitsligo Parish in 1630 and the building of the church in 1632. He lived long enough to see the beautiful oak family aisle installed in 1634. This is a masterpiece of Scottish Jacobean wood-carving. Lavishly ornate and thus a work of art, this has become as much a memorial to the local 17th century craftsmen as to the founder of the burgh. Bearing seven heraldic panels adorned with – the family crest; Lord Pitsligo’s initials, and the latter in monogram with that of his wife, Dame Jane Keith. The handsome Dutch carved belfry was erected in 1635 and the laird died in 1636.

Alexander, the second Lord Pitsligo, began developments at Rosehearty. It was created a burgh of barony by Royal Charter in 1681. He died in 1690 with his son, the third Laird, dying only months later. Alexander the 4th and last Lord Pitsligo, lived such an interesting life that the area is steeped in his legendary escapades as a Jacobite and Mystic.

Masonic Lodge

It has always been claimed that Lodge Forbes was a Jacobite Lodge. According to tradition it was founded by Alexander the fourth and last Lord Forbes of Pitsligo in 1743

Whatever, the old seal has the date 1747 engraved on its face, proving the point that this Masonic Temple was in existence prior to 1755, when a charter was granted by Grand Lodge of Scotland.

Oral history tells us that the minute book from 1755-1772 was consumed in a lodge fire along with other papers. Therefore only the charter and seal exist prior to 1772.

It is not known whether Lord Pitsligo was a mason but there is ample evidence to prove that he was surrounded with them in the continent. Then Andrew Michael Ramsay, the man who reorganised Freemasonry in 1737, was closely associated with him and spent a period as a recluse in Rosehearty in Lord Pitsligo’s college for the study of mysticism. Dr George Garden took charge of this monastic retreat.

The first mention of a masonic walk is recorded in the minute book January 7th, 1793. In those early days the ranks were filled with the local defence volunteers, raised for fear of an invasion as Napoleonic wars raged throughout Europe. three centuries it has always been, and still is, an important part of Rosehearty’s festival in the New Year.

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