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Gaelic: Baile Fharfair
Location: 56°38’39"N, 2°53’18"W
Population: 13,206  (2001)
Post town: Forfar
Postcode: DD8
Dialling code: 01307
Local Government
Council: Angus

Forfar is a town and royal burgh of approximately 13,500 people in Angus, of which it is the county town; Angus taking from here its alternative name of Forfarshire. Forfar is a traditional market town, serving the outlying lowland farms of Strathmore in central Angus.

The town is near to the Angus Glens, including Glen Doll, Glen Clova and Glen Prosen, and so a base for skiers and hill walkers. The area is notable for the beautiful scenery of the mountains and Strathmore. Some five miles distant is Glamis Castle, home to the Bowes-Lyon family and where the late Princess Margaret, younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II, was born in 1930.

Forfar Loch Country Park, which is popular amongst locals as a walking venue. It is said that the Forfar Loch extended over much more of Forfar in the 1800s, going as far up as Orchardbank and Wellbrae until a drainage project brought the water level down.

The town holds many events throughout the year such as the bi-annual Forfar Mara-Fun, which raises money for charity, and the annual Forfar Food Festival highlighting some of the local food. There is also a monthly farmers' market.

Agriculture and tourism are some of the town's major industries. It also acts as an administrative centre for Angus Council, with a new multimillion-pound office complex currently on the outskirts of the town.

Forfar is also known for the legend of the "coo o Forfar". A householder left a tub of beer in the doorway to cool, and a passing cow drank it. When the owner of the cow was charged for the beer, a baillie ruled that if the beer was drunk at the doorway it was "deoch an doras" or "stirrup cup", to charge for which would be an insult to Scots hospitality. This became a byword: "Be like the coo o Forfar, an tak a stannin drink".[1]


The Stag Forfar

Although Angus lies far beyond the Romans' northern frontiers, the Romans established a major military camp at Battledykes, some three miles north of Forfar, which would have held 50,000 to 60,000 men.[2] From Battledykes northward the Romans established a succession of camps including Stracathro, Raedykes and Normandykes.[3]

Forfar was granted its charter as a royal burgh in the Middle Ages, allowing it to grow as a trading town.

In 1215 a "claimant" to the throne, the infant daughter of the leader of the Meic Uilleim, who were descendants of King Duncan II, had her brains dashed out on Forfar market cross.

Much of the town's history is displayed Meffan Museum in the heart of the town (which was built in 1898 by a daughter of the Provost Meffan as a bequest). The Museum serves as a home of the Forfar story, an art gallery and a meeting place for local speakers, summer clubs for children and groups. The museum has a selection of Pictish stones found in and around Forfar and Kirriemuir, including a large Class I Pictish stone, with a rare carving of a flower, the Dunnichen Stone, found in the East Mains of Dunnichen in the early 19th century during ploughing. It was initially displayed at a church in the vicinity, then at Dunnichen House. The museum also has a canoe, excavated from Forfar Loch, that dates back to the 11th century.

Local sport

Strathmore Cricket Club [1], founded in 1862, has played at Lochside Park since 1873.

The town has a second division football club, Forfar Athletic, who play at Station Park, as well as two junior clubs, Forfar West End and Forfar Albion. Dundee United Reserves also play at Forfar Athletic's ground, Station Park. Youth and Women's Football is also available in the town, with Forfar Boys F.C (boys only), Lochside Boys FC [2] (boys only) and Forfar Farmington FC [3] (boys, girls and women). All the clubs have SFA Quality Mark Award at some level.

Rugby Union is represented in the town by Strathmore Rugby Football Club, who play their home games at Inchmacoble Park, beside Forfar Loch.

Forfar Loch is home to Forfar Sailing Club [4].

The town has a swimming pool and a separate dedicated leisure centre. It also has an ice rink which was built in the early 1990s and this is home to the local curling club. There are also many bowling clubs, and the Forfar Golf Club [5], situated at Cunninghill to the east of the town.

Angus Gliding Club operates at Roundyhill, between Glamis and Kirriemuir.

Places of worship

Lowson Memorial Church

Forfar has several churches:

  • Church of Scotland:
    • East and Old Church, originally the parish kirk, with a tall slender spire, with steeple clock overlooking the town centre.
    • Lowson Memorial Church, off Montrose Road. This is a category A listed church in late Scots Gothic style, built in 1914 by Alexander Marshall Mackenzie, who also designed Crathie Kirk. The church contains notable stained glass windows by Douglas Strachan. The church serves the east side of Forfar, and provides a mix of traditional and contemporary styles of worship.
    • St Margaret's Church, in the West High Street, originally a Free Kirk.

It had been decided (by a Church of Scotland arbiter) that the East and Old Parish Church would close, and the congregation would be moving to St. Margaret's Church. This was brought back for discussion at Angus Presbytery due to a large vote against this decision. Now the East and Old and St Margaret's are to remain individual churches as they have always have been.

The East & Old Church is built on the site of the original place of worship that some of the monks of Restenneth Priory built hundreds of years before the one today. The adjoining graveyard has famous 'residents' such as botanist George Don, quite a few scholars and a man who blamed the witches of Forfar for poisoning him after ill words were exchanged between them.

Forfar East and Old Parish Church

The steeple is a focal point of Forfar, visible when entering the town from any direction. Although abutting the East & Old building, it is owned by the 'Town' and is not formally part of the church property; it is all but certain to be retained following any disposition of the church building.

  • Other denominations:
    • St John the Evangelist Scottish Episcopal Church, East High Street, designed by Sir R Rowand Anderson and consecrated in 1881. Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, later to become Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, was confirmed in this church.
    • St Fergus Roman Catholic Church.


Forfar Town Hall
  1. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
  2. Alan Reid, The Royal Burgh of Forfar: A Local History, 1902, Houlston & sons; 445 pages
  3. C. Michael Hogan, Elsick Mounth, Megalithic Portal, ed Andy Burnham (2007)

Outside links