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  • Writer's pictureLilly

Tolquhon Tomb at the remains of Tarves Kirk

On my last last day in Aberdeenshire this past trip I stopped to visit the Tolquhon Tomb/ Tarves Tomb. It was a soggy day not ideal for photos but I was able to grab a few.

According to the Historic Scotland sign at the tomb:

“This fine monumental tomb is the burial place of William Forbes, 7th Lord of Tolquhon, and his wife, Elizabeth Gordon.

William Forbes was largely responsible for what we now see at Tolquhon Castle, his picturesque residence 2.5 km south of here. In 1589, shortly after the completion of his house, Sir William had this memorial installed in what was then the south aisle of the medieval parish church. The old Kirk was replaced by the present edifice in 1798, but the tomb has survived.

The tomb is a particularly fine one. It displays a most interesting mixture of Gothic and Renaissance forms. The general scheme remains thoroughly medieval but much of the detail is pseudo-classical in character. This is particularly seen on the grotesque animals on the external curve of the tomb arch are fashioned in the whimsical and vigorous style to be found in sculptural work of this period in north-east Scotland.

On the dexter spandrel (that is, the left as one looks at the tomb) is a shield bearing arms of Forbes, a helmet and the motto SALVS PER CHRISTVM (“Salvation through Christ”). On either side of the shield are the laird’s initials and below it the date 1589.

On the sinister spandrel (on the right) a similar shield, with a gentleman’s hat for a crest, bears the arms of his spouse. Elizabeth Gordon of Lesmoir, impaled with those of Forbes, together with her initials and the inscription DOCHTER TO LESMOR (Daughter to Lesmoir”).

Portrait statuettes of the laird and his lady support the tracery on either side. William Forbes was laid to rest here in 1596 after almost fifty years as lord of Tolquhon.”


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