The History of the Howe - Fettercairn

Drawing ever nearer to the Grampian foothills we come to Fettercairn - which could be called the gateway to Royal Deesiede, sitting as it does at the foolt of the Cairn o' Mount. There are conflicting opinions as to how the name Fetercairn came into being, but it would seem to loosely mean "The Road leading to the Cairn". The Cairn o' Mount is a hill which dominates the Westerly side of the Howe o' the Mearns, and the road which crosses its heights was originally part of one of the main drove roads of Scotland.

Like most parishes in the North East of Scotland, Fettercairn has to share a ministry. In this case, it is with the parishes of Fordoun and Glenbervie.

Fettercairn, or Fetterie as it is affectionately known, is probably one of hte most picturesque villages in this area, set as it is about its central square. The main features are the Mercat Cross, which is of great historical significance with its famous old-style ell measurement, and the parish church set high on a mound surrounded by an ancient graveyard. There is also an elaborate and attractive fountain which was erected in 1869 to the memory of Sir John Hepburn Stuart Forbes, Baronet of Pitsligo and Fettercairn. The village is dominated by a magnificent stone-built arch which was erected to commemorate a visit made by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1861. It is said that the royal couple spent the night at the Ramsay Arms Hotel before continuing their journey across the Cairn to Balmoral. Apparently they strolled round the village totally unrecognised by the residents! However, amends were made when the arch was built.

Fettercairn Malt Whisky is a commodity much sought after by connoisseurs of a "wee dram" and today the distillery, which dates from 1824, has been beautifully refurbished and is now a popular tourist attraction.

Attached to the primary school, which was rebuilt in the early 1960s behind an earlier building, is a branch library. The village also has a general store, a Post Office and a tearoom. Fettercairn has fairly extensive council housing schemes which are tucked in around the older part of the village, and many private houses have found sites beside the older houses and crofts which line the roads leading to the distillery, Marykirk, Luthermuir and the Clatterin' Brig.

Like Luthermuir, Fettercairn is surrounded by castles and houses of note. On the Edzell side of the village there is the aforementioned Balbegno Castle, a 16th Century building which was later extended by the addition of a wing that is now used as a farmhouse. Close by to Balbegno is the vitrified Fort of Green Cairn, which is thought to date from as far back as 500BC.

On the Clatterin' Brig side of the village are Fettercairn House and Fasque, two stately homes whose gates are within yards of one another on different sides of the roadway. Fettercairn House, which stands on the right, has in recent years been the home of the Bowes-Lyon and Somervell families, cousins to the Queen. Fasque, on the left hand side of the roadway, is the seat of the Gladstone family, whose most famous member was Sir William Gladstone, a 19th Century British Prime Minister of some note.


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