Of the northern Picts who originally possessed the land few remains now exist beyond the cairns that are found in the districts of Rothiemay, Ballindalloch, Boharm, Glen Livet and elsewhere. "Cairn" also occurs in many place names. The advance of the Romans was practically prevented by the mountains in the south, but what is believed to have been a Roman camp may still be made out in Glen Barry. Danish invaders were more persevering and more successful. Many bloody conflicts took place between them and the Scots. Near Cullen a fierce encounter occurred in 960, and a sculptured stone at Mortlach is said to commemorate a signal victory gained by Malcolm II. over the Norsemen in 1010. The shire was the scene of much strife after the Reformation. In Glen Livet the Roman Catholics, under the marquess of Huntly, worsted the Protestants under the earl of Argyll. From 1624 to 1645 was a period of almost incessant struggle, and the Covenanting troubles, combined with the frequent conflicts of the clans, were productive of serious evils.

But the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745 left the county comparatively untouched, and thereafter it became settled.

See W. Cramond, Annals of Banff (New Spalding Club) (Aberdeen, 1891); Dr Gordon, Chronicles of Keith, Grange, etc. (Glasgow, 1880); Banffshire Year-Book (Banff); Professor Dickie, Botanist's Guide to Aberdeen, Banff, etc. (Aberdeen, 1860); Inventory of Charters of Cullen (Banff, 1887); and Inventory of Charters of Banff (Banff); Robertson's Collections for a History of the Shires of Aberdeen and Banff (Spalding Club); W. Watt, Aberdeenshire and Banff (Edinburgh, 1900).