The Origins of the Present Estate and
Name of Arbuthnott
The derivation and meaning of Arbuthnott is obscure, but it
is certainly a Celtic place name and probably related to the confluence of a river with
another stream. The lands of Arbuthnott from which the family takes its name originally
formed a Celtic thanage. The Norman family of Oliphant held the estate at the end of the
XIth century and some time in the XIIth century Hugh of Swinton came north from Dunbar,
married the Oliphant heiress and took himself the name of Arbuthnott. He became the
founder of the present family of that name and there has thus been a family connection as
owners for nine centuries with the lands of Arbuthnott.
Since those early years the extent of the estate has
fluctuated but presently consists of 3000 acres of which 1,400 acres are farmed by the
owner, 1,200 acres are in four tenanted farms and 400 acres of woodland make up the
The River Bervie divides the estate into two almost equal
halves, the land rising to 571 and 582 ft. respectively on the north and south sides of
the river valley. The woodlands that clothe the hillsides and surround the house are the
successors to those that would have been planted no more than 200 years ago, prior to
which there would have been very few trees at all in this part of Kincardineshire.
Centred on the parish church and the castle or mansion
house there has, since Norman times, a working population who have owed their livelihood
predominantly to agriculture. This is still the case today, but in addition to those
engaged in agriculture there will now be forestry employees and gardeners and those who
serve the district in the post office, in a rural woodworking business, at the village
school and in other capacities. The estate "population" numbers about 120.