Saturday, 14 January 2012

BANFF

If you google Banff and find yourself confronted with majestic snow-covered mountains, ski runs and line-dancing saloons, you've got the wrong Banff: this is the Banff in the Canadian Rockies. The Scottish town from whence the New World version got its name is a very different proposition: once one of the most important ports in medieval Scotland, now a gracious seaside town with a mix of architectural styles separated from its neighbour Macduff by a seven arched bridge built by John Smeaton, a name we last encountered in Plymouth with Smeaton's Tower. In 1700 a kind of Scottish version of Robin Hood called James MacPherson was hanged in Banff following a robbery rampage during which he targetted only the rich.

On the outskirts of town, in the Deveron Valley, is the 18th century Duff House, a stately Georgian pile designed by William Adam and nowadays functioning as an art gallery, with paintings and furniture on loan from the National Galleries of Scotland. Banff Museum is one of the oldest museums in Scotland and, among other treasures, displays a collection of Banff silver. The ruined parish kirk of St Mary's was rebuilt in 1471 but demolished in 1797. The aisle was spared, though, and was restored in 2001 courtesy of the Heritage Lottery Fund, since it was the burial place of the Ogilvies, one of the most important families in Banffshire. The churchyard has further tombs belonging to past townsfolk from all walks of life.

As mentioned in the previous post, Banff and Macduff jointly host the COAST Festival each summer. For other events in Banff and the surrounding area, see here.

Webcam view of the harbour.

Map of the area.

'duff-house' photo (c) 2008, stu smith - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

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