05 May 2011

Those Places Thursday: Fordyce, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

My wife Cheryl’s father was born in Scotland and though they immigrated to America many generations earlier, I have Scottish ancestors of my own. So we had long since gathered all of the family stories and had done quite a lot of long-distance Scottish research via the online records at Scotland’s People before we finally got the chance to visit the old homeland. Being there was a great joy, and we took advantage to visit nearly all of the old home places that we had found via the internet.

The tiny and ancient village of Fordyce near the north coast of Scotland in Aberdeenshire was one of three villages (Cullen and Portsoy were the others) within 5 miles of one another that had been home to many generations of Cheryl’s Forbes clan and it was one of our favorite sites of our vist
Fordyce sits in a little vale on the right bank of the Fordyce Burn, which runs into the sea about 21/2 miles away near the village of Portsoy. As you approach, at first all that you can see are rooftops. But as you enter the village, you see that it looks, for all the world, like a movie set or a set up for creating post cards, rather than a place where people actually lived.

Dating at least to the year 1272, and now one of Scotland’s conservation villages, Fordyce is renowned as a center of outstanding architectural and historical interest.

The little village even has its own castle of sorts. It is more of a large house with an attached fighting tower than what we think of as a castle, and  assume that the nobleman who built it was probably not of the highest rank. We were assured that the castle was a late addition to the village, not actually having been built until 1592.

The castle sits immediately adjacent to the village's ancient cemetery where the ruins of an equally ancient church stands witness to the many, many generations of burials. It is a place, needless to say, to which we were immediately drawn. And it was there that we finally hit genealogical paydirt - the graves of my wife's third great grandparents, Peter Forbes and May Badenoch. If you have Scottish ancestors but have not yet done research in Scottish records, you will be delighted to know that women are routinely identified with their maiden names, both in Church and Civil records.
Cheryl Macfarlane Butler, sister Sandra Macfarlane Nebergall, and Jack Butler at ancestral Forbes grave.
It was a trip to generate a lifetime of memories.

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