Macbeth and the founding of






In Royal Deeside, Scotland





A winter view of the Cairnwell Pass through which the army Malcolm III passed on their way to the battle with the forces of Macbeth.



This story begins with the death of Malcolm II of Scotland. The succession to the Scottish throne by Duncan, son of one of Malcolm’s daughters, was disputed. Indeed, Duncan was opposed by chiefs in Moray led by Macbeth. Eventually Duncan was slain near Elgin by Macbeth who subsequently declared himself Scottish King in 1040.  Malcolm, the son of King Duncan, was a young boy at that time. His mother was related to Siward, the Earl of  Northumberland. In 1054 Siward  raised an army and supporting sea forces and attacked Macbeth at Dunsinane near the River Tay.


Though indecisive the  battle left Malcolm, now a young man, in charge of much of Scotland to the south of the river Forth while Macbeth continued to rule the land to the north. Malcolm decided to attack Macbeth and in 1057 crossed the Mounth (the mountain range separating the River Dee from the River Tay) via the Cairnwell Pass,­ the route now followed by the A93. ­ He camped by the River Dee near where Braemar now stands. Crossing the Dee his army met and defeated MacBeth on 15th August near Lumphanan.

Malcolm III, or Malcolm Canmore (Gaelic for great chief), mounted the throne of Scotland at Scone in 1058. His relationship with Braemar (Braes O' Mar) continued for he built a fort at Kindrochit which controlled the crossings of the River Dee and the River Clunie. Though the fort was probably intended to support hunting expeditions it later developed into the Kindrochit Castle whose ruins are still visible in the centre of Braemar. The town which grew around this castle was known as Castleton of Braemar (or most often simply Castleton) before gaining its present name around 1900.

Legend says that in about the year 1060 Malcolm and his wife Margaret held a great Gathering by Braemar with many sporting competitions, presumably designed to identify the best athletes and fighters for his army. This event is often seen as the fore-runner of the modern Highland Games, the most famous of which is that held each September in Braemar itself.


Queen Margaret was a very good woman and after her death was sanctified as Saint Margaret. Today one of the Braemar churches is dedicated to her.


So, without Macbeth:

would Malcolm have ever camped his army in the Braes O’ Mar?

would he have built the fort at Kindrochit or held his Highland Games?

would the Castle of Kindrochit have been built?

would Braemar exist today?




More history of Braemar can be found at


More on Macbeth at



Page constructed by Michael Franklin, Callater Lodge, 13 May 2002


E mail