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Burns Federation No  458

In his latter years he occupied Dunnottar Castle, now a very impressive ruin, to the South of Stonehaven.


He also erected a building for family burials  in Dunnottar Churchyard  in Stonehaven, known locally as the Marischal Aisle. The 10th Earl, George Keith, held court at Fetteresso, entertaining  James Edward Stuart, the ‘Old Pretender’ in 1715.

It  was reputedly here, at the main entrance, where the ‘Old Pretender’ was proclaimed as King James VIII of Great Britain. The Earl Marischals owned a great deal of land and property, most of which was later to be forfeited as a result of their support for the Jacobite cause.  Support for the Old Pretender and also for Bonnie Prince Charlie in ’45 rebellion resulted in many devastating changes in estate ownership and potentially in relationships  between land-owners and tenants. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that it ultimately contributed to the circumstances which led Burns’s father to depart the Mearns, to meet Agnes Broun ultimately resulting in the poet’s birth.



In the field to the left (as one faces the castle) is a pigeon loft. Just beyond the pigeon loft and the trees, flows the Carron river where, it is said, that during his visit to Stonehaven, Burns was disturbed doing a bit of “fly” fishing. When disturbed,    he cast aside his rod and departed in haste with the words:

Yer fish are scarce

Yer water’s sma

Here’s ma rod

 An’ Rab’s awa


Returning to the main road, turn left, but pause before continuing up the slope look across the fields on your right. In the distance, you will see the ruins of Ury House, the home of Robert Barclay who built Stonehaven’s Glen Ury Distilleries in 1824.  The Ury estates were in Barclay hands for over 200 years - not as long as the Earl Marischals of Scotland. - but of course the Earl Marischals lost their estates supporting the Jacobites.


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