Formerly the county town of Banffshire, the N Aberdeenshire seaport and resort of Banff lies at the mouth of the River Deveron where it flows into the Moray Firth. Built on a series of terraces rising up to a cliff top, Banff became a royal centre by the end of the 12th Century. In mediaeval times it was linked to the North Hanse league of trading towns and in 1372 was created a royal burgh. It remained a prosperous commercial and fishing port until the end of the 19th century and has many well preserved merchants buildings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.
At the heart of the burgh are the Plainstanes, a fine group of buildings that includes the Town House (1764-67), Tolbooth (1796), 16th-century mercat cross and Biggar Fountain (1878). The original castle of Banff, built to defend the coast against Viking attack, was rebuilt in the 18th century by James Ogilvy, 3rd Earl of Seafield. The Carmelites built a monastery here in the 14th century. Today the town is a popular resort with a sailing club and an 18-hole golf course.
From the south Banff is entered across a seven-span bridge built in 1799 by the engineer John Smeaton for the second Earl of Fife as an imposing approach to Duff House which lies amidst acres of parkland. Duff House is a magnificent baroque mansion, designed by William Adam in 1735.
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