Former administrative county, and a surviving ceremonial area, in northeastern Scotland, south of the Moray Firth, bordered in the west by the lower Spey, with some of its eastern boundary along the River Deveron. Banffshire was wide in the north but narrowed as it extended southwestwards to Ben Macdhui, highest mountain in the Cairngorms and the second highest in Scotland. The south of the county was drained by the Avon. There were small pockets of Banffshire within Aberdeenshire until 1889.
A sheriff had been established at Banff by 1242, and almost certainly earlier (by the reign of William the Lion, 1165-1214). Banffshire lay in two dioceses, those of Moray and Aberdeen. The latter began in the 11th century at Mortlach, in Banffshire, which now lies immediately south of the planned town of Dufftown, but moved to Aberdeen in 1132. There were two Royal Burghs in Banffshire, Banff and Cullen.
In 1975 the county ceased as an administrative unit and its territory was divided between two districts in the Grampian Region, Moray (the greater part) and Banff & Buchan (the northeast). It survived however as a ceremonial county under its Lord Lieutenant, and still does, even though, since the changes of 1996, its territory has continued to be divided between the unitary authorities of Moray and Aberdeenshire.