1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Forres
FORRES (Gaelic, far uis, “near water”), a royal and police burgh of Elginshire, Scotland. Pop. (1891) 3971; (1901) 4317. It is situated on the Findhorn, which sweeps past the town and is crossed by a suspension bridge about a mile to the W., 11 m. W. of Elgin by the Highland railway, and 6 m. by road from Findhorn, its port, due north. It is one of the most ancient towns in the north of Scotland. King Donald (892-900), son of Constantine, died in Forres, not without suspicion of poisoning, and in it King Duff (961-967) was murdered. Macbeth is said to have slain Duncan in the first structure that gave its name to Castlehill, which was probably the building demolished in 1297 by the adherents of Wallace. The next castle was a royal residence from 1189 to 1371 and was occupied occasionally by William the Lion, Alexander II. and David II. It was burned down by the Wolf of Badenoch in 1390. The ruins on the hill, however, are those of a later edifice and are surmounted by a granite obelisk, 65 ft. high, raised to the memory of Surgeon James Thomson, a native of Cromarty, who at the cost of his life tended the Russian wounded on the field of the Alma. The public buildings include the town hall, a fine and commodious house on the site of the old tolbooth; the Falconer museum, containing among other exhibits several valuable fossils, and named after Dr Hugh Falconer (1808–1865), the distinguished palaeontologist and botanist, a native of the town; the mechanics’ institute; the agricultural and market hall; Leanchoil hospital and Anderson’s Institution for poor boys. The cross, in Decorated Gothic, stands beside the town hall. Adjoining the town on the south-east is the beautifully-wooded Cluny Hill, a favourite public resort, carrying on its summit the tower, 70 ft. high, which was erected in 1806 to the memory of Nelson, and on its southern slopes a well-known hydropathic. An excellent golf-course extends from Kinloss to Findhorn. The industries comprise the manufacture of chemicals and artificial manures, granite polishing, flour and sawmills, boot- and shoe-making, carriage-building and woollen manufactures. There is also considerable trade in cattle.
Sueno’s Stone, about 23 ft. high, probably the finest sculptured monolith in Scotland, stands in a field to the east of the town. Its origin and character have given rise to endless surmises. It is carved with figures of soldiers, priests, slaughtered men and captives on one side, and on the other with a cross and Runic ornamentation. One theory is that it is a relic of the early Christian church, symbolizing the battle of life and the triumph of good over evil. According to an older tradition it was named after Sueno, son of Harold, king of Denmark, who won a victory on the spot in 1008. A third conjecture is that it commemorates the expulsion of the Danes from Moray in 1014. Skene’s view is that it chronicles the struggle in 900 between Sigurd, earl of Orkney, and Maelbrigd, Maormor of Moray. Another storied stone is called the Witches’ Stone, because it marks the place near Forres where Macbeth is said to have encountered the weird sisters.
Forres is one of the Inverness district group of parliamentary burghs, the other members being Nairn, Fortrose and Inverness. The town is amongst the healthiest in Scotland and has the lowest rainfall in the county.
Within 2 m. of Forres, to the S.W., lie the beautiful woods of Altyre, the seat of the Gordon-Cummings. Three miles farther south is Relugas House, the favourite residence of Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, romantically situated on a height near the confluence of the Divie and the Findhorn. Not far away stand the ruins of the old castle of Dunphail. On the left bank of the Findhorn, 31 m. W. of Forres, is situated Brodie Castle, partly ancient and partly modern. The Brodies—the old name of their estate was Brothie, from the Irish broth, a ditch, in allusion to the trench that ran from the village of Dyke to the north of the house—were a family of great consequence at the period of the Covenant. Alexander Brodie (1617–1680), the fourteenth laird, was one of the commissioners who went to the Hague to treat with Charles II., and afterwards became a Scottish lord of session and an English judge. He and his son were regarded as amongst the staunchest of the Presbyterians. Farther south is the forest of Darnaway, famous for its oaks, in which stands the earl of Moray’s mansion of Darnaway Castle. It occupies the site of the castle which was built by Thomas Randolph, the first earl. Attached to it is the great hall, capable of accommodating 1000 men, with an open roof of fine dark oak, the only remaining portion of the castle that was erected by Archibald Douglas, earl of Moray, in 1450. Queen Mary held a council in it in 1562. Earl Randolph’s chair, not unlike the coronation chair, has been preserved. Kinloss Abbey, now in ruins, stands some 21 m. to the N.E. of Forres. It was founded in 1150 by David I., and remained in the hands of the Cistercians till its suppression at the Reformation. Robert Reid, who ruled from 1526 to 1540, was its greatest abbot. His hobby was gardening, and it is believed that many of the 123 varieties of pears and 146 varieties of apples for which the district is famous were due to his skill and enterprise. Edward I. stayed in the abbey for a short time in 1303 and Queen Mary spent two nights in it in 1562.