The Forbes Room

This is the second in a series about the bedrooms at Lickleyhead Castle. The pictures below show the room as it currently exists.


The Forbes Room is styled as an early 17th century box bed chamber. Box beds were used at this time to protect sleepers from being accidentally crushed by cattle and other livestock. Animals would often be brought indoors to prevent theft. An enclosed bed would undoubtedly have also served to keep occupants warmer.

This room is named for the Forbes family who owned Lickleyhead Castle for about a hundred years from 1625.

17th century Scotland was a violent and troubled place. The Reformation had split the country along religious lines leading to numerous wars and persecutions. Witch trials were common place, as were sectarian massacres. The monarchy became increasingly distant and English facing after the union of the two Kingdoms in 1603 and the country was increasingly drawn into the conflicts of its southern neighbour. During the English Civil War of 1642-1651, also known as the War of the Three Kingdoms, Scottish ‘Covenanters’ fought first against the King and then against English parliamentary forces. The Covenanters were Protestants who formed a covenant (a pact) to oppose the imposition of Episcopalian reforms they saw as undermining their beliefs.

In 1625, John Forbes, a well-known Covenanter and poacher, purchased Lickleyhead Castle and began remodelling the structure. The current western tower was built and another floor added to the central keep in the following four years. The inscription above the front door was then carved, showing the year of completion (1629), his initials and those of his wife, Margaret Skene. See below-note the use of the letter 'I' to stand for modern 'J'.



During the War of the Three Kingdoms, despite his advancing age, John Forbes was involved in a duel with rival Sir Gilbert Menzies and 'schottis was schott'. Both men stumbled off to seek treatment though neither died from their wounds.

John Forbes' natural son, William Forbes, turned his hand to bounty hunting around the same time and in attempting to subdue Alexander Irvine he killed him. In 1645, while living at Lickleyhead, this same William blew off his own hand with a pistol, an accident attributed by some to be divine judgement for the murder.

If staying in the Forbes room, please remember to turn off the lamp in the box bed. The fire cannot be lit. The nearest bathroom is one floor up in the Leith Gallery (Grip Fast Bathroom).

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