Visit Huntly and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Huntly, Aberdeenshire, is the capital of the province of Strathbogie, and lies in a little plain entirely surrounded by hills 39 miles West of Aberdeen, in the angle formed by the meeting of the River Deveron and its tributary the Bogie. It is a little town laid out in the 18th century on the gridiron or draughtboard plan around two long, straight, and now painfully narrow streets with a pleasant square at their point of intersection. The town owed its existence to the powerful family of Gordon, whose name is writ large in the annals of Scotland. From the North end of the square, Castle Street leads directly under the arch of the Gordon Schools (founded by the last Duchess of Gordon in 1839) to the wooded drive leading in turn to the stately ruins of Huntly Castle on the high right bank of the Deveron.
Now zealously preserved by the Ministry of Public Building and Works, Huntly Castle is an epitome of the development of the Scottish castle from the earliest Norman fortress to the palace of the 17th century. It was one of the last strongholds, and for a time the headquarters, of the Catholic faith in Scotland. These ruins are truly splendid. The green mound of the Norman motte rising high above the rock-strewn gorge of the river, the enormously thick walls of the medieval keep known as the “Auld Werk”, the foundations of the courtyard, and the earthwork of the Civil War ravelin — these are now but the outlines of “old, unhappy, far-off things”. But the great Renaissance palace built by the first Marquess of Huntly between 1597 and 1602 remains in all its glory, roofless and tenantless, but otherwise almost entire. Its outstanding features are the stately row of first-floor windows (inspired by those of the Château of Blois, of which during his “exile” the Marquess is said to have been governor), the grand doorway with its armorial bearings, and the splendid carved fireplaces.
The “palace” is a large oblong building 76 ft long, with a round tower at the South West corner, and a smaller round tower opposite it at the North East angle carrying the grand stair. You can see over the building and look down from the oriel windows on a scene of sylvan beauty that is an experience in itself, but probably the memory that will remain is that of the “most splendid heraldic doorway in the British Isles”, as the Lord Lyon has called it. Achievement after achievement stretches up the side of the tower, connected with delicately-moulded panels in a series that symbolizes first human and then divine authority: first the lord of the castle and his lady, then king and queen, then the Passion of Christ and the Resurrection. Above all is the figure of St Michael, the warrior archangel, triumphing over Satan.
Huntly Castle was the home of the Gordons from 1376 to 1752. By that time Gordon Castle, Fochabers, was the principal seat of the family, and in that year the widow of the 3rd Duke of Gordon used some of the stones of the stronghold to rebuild Huntly Lodge as a jointure-house. This stately l8th century mansion is now, with modern additions, the Huntly Castle Hotel. It stands on rising ground about ¼ mile from the Castle on the far side of the Deveron, here spanned by a fine old bridge. It was in this period also that the ancient burgh of barony known as the Raws of Strathbogie clustered about the Castle, and was replaced by the modern town of Huntly, as its linen industry was replaced by woollen manufacturing. In an old building on the West side of the square a craftsman named Forsyth designed the sett of the Gordon tartan when the 4th Duke of Gordon, assisted by his famous Duchess, Jane Maxwell, raised the Gordon Highlanders regiment in 1794. The Duchess, a leader of London fashion, is said to have placed the King's shiffing between her lips to woo recruits with a kiss. As “Bonnie Jean”, she is still revered in memory by the Gordons of today.
A tablet in Duke Street indicates the birthplace of the novelist George MacDonald (1824—1905), whose works include David Elginbrod, a mystical romance, and Alec Forbes of Howglen, a description of humble life in Huntly. The modern reader is more likely to be familiar with his fairy tales, such as At the Back of the North Wind.
Huntly Town Council administers 22½ miles of burgh fishings on the Bogie and the Deveron. A fine golf course extends almost from the castle into the salient where Deveron and Bogie meet, while farther West is a children's lido on the Deveron. Trees and hills are the natural attractions. The bare shoulder of Clashmach rises to the South West. Due West the Deveron emerges from a charming glen through which a road runs by Kirkton of Glass to Dufftown, while due North the river — having joined forces with the Bogie — skirts the Bin Forest, a large Forestry Commission plantation, to tryst with the River Isla in golden haughlands above the village of Rothiemay. The country to the South East, where the Bogie meanders through a long vale after emerging from the hills of the Cabrach, is plainer and barer; so too is the upland road to Aberdeen through the Glens of Foudland to the East.
Nearby towns: Ballater, Banff, Dufftown, Insch, Inverurie, Keith, Turriff
Nearby villages: Aberchirder, Aboyne, Alford, Auchleven, Bogniebrae, Bridgend, Clatt, Clunie, Cobairdy, Corse, Corse, Cults, Cults, Drumblade, Haugh of Glass, Inverkeithny, Keithan, Kennethmont, Kildrummy, Kirkton of Culsalmond, Largue, Leslie, Lumsden, Marnoch, Mountblairy, Newmill, Old Rayne, Oyne, Pitlurg, Rhynie, Rothiemay, Slioch, Torry, Wells of Ythan
Have you decided to visit Huntly or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Huntly bed and breakfast (a Huntly B&B or Huntly b and b)
- a Huntly guesthouse
- a Huntly hotel (or motel)
- a Huntly self-catering establishment, or
- other Huntly accommodation