Balvaird Castle

Abernethy, United Kingdom

Balvaird Castle is a particularly fine and complete example of a traditional late medieval Scottish tower house. It was built around the year 1495 for Sir Andrew Murray, a younger son of the family of Murray of Tullibardine. He acquired the lands of Balvaird through marriage to the heiress Margaret Barclay, a member of a wealthy family and daughter of James Barclay of Kippo. It is likely that Balvaird Castle was built on the site of an earlier Barclay family castle. Substantial remnants of earthwork fortifications around the Castle may survive from earlier defences.

Over the years the castle was extended and altered. A gatehouse was built in 1567. An outer courtyard was attached to the main gate which possibly contained stabling as well as adding an extra layer of defence to the castle. Another courtyard to the south was a garden, while a much larger walled area to the north-east was an orchard or 'pleasance.'

The family continued to live at Balvaird until they were elevated to the Viscountcy of Stormont (ancestors of the Earldom of Mansfield) and in 1658 moved to the rather more comfortable Scone Palace, near Perth. Thereafter the castle continued to be inhabited, though not by the family itself. In its later days, it probably accommodated farm workers.

The Castle was restored and partially excavated in recent years by Historic Scotland, by whom it is maintained, although it was owned by the Murray family until 2017. The site is open at all times, but the tower-house itself can only be visited on a restricted number of days every year. Balvaird Castle is the caput of the feudal Lordship and Barony of Balvaird and is currently owned by American entrepreneur, Brady Brim-DeForest.

Balvaird is notable among Scottish castles of its date for its refined architectural detail. Features include corbels in the form of carved heads supporting the corner-roundels of the wall-walk, an unusually elaborate aumbry (wall-cupboard) in the first-floor hall and a cap-house above the stair in the form of a miniature tower-house. It has been suggested that some or all of these carved stone features may have been brought to Balvaird for re-use from an ecclesiastical building. The inclusion of a kitchen on the ground floor is unusual for a building built in this period, and the inverted keyhole gun-holes clearly date the building's construction to the late 1400s.

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Abernethy, United Kingdom
See all sites in Abernethy

Details

Founded: 1495
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Catherine Rashid (14 months ago)
Really neat, unique castle with picturesque views all around. Probably not worth going out of your way for, but if you're in the area, it's a nice thing to see. I walked from the castle into Glenfarg, which was quiet and easy to do. It would be great to see photos/replicas of the inside of the tower!
Berglas71 (2 years ago)
Some nice photo opportunities to be had of a genuine Scottish Castle. Easy walk up to the main Castle from the car park.
Niall Dewar (2 years ago)
Lovely little walk. It's a shame they lock the carpark for most of the year leaving only room for a couple of cars in front of the gate. Apart from that little gripe with silly policies, the ruined castle is a beautiful spot for a picnic and a wander around.
Thomas Williamson (3 years ago)
A beautiful, remote castle with sensational views all around. Had the entire site to myself on the day I visited meant I had some fabulous photo opportunities in the winter sunshine. Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.
Jackie Mackenzie (3 years ago)
Beautiful little castle with scenic views. Unfortunately closed when we visited.
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