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
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Founded: 1495
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jackie Mackenzie (8 months ago)
Beautiful little castle with scenic views. Unfortunately closed when we visited.
High Miler (9 months ago)
Lovely castle with nice views. Very peaceful, you could sit up there for hours on a nice day. Even the grass is cut neat and tidy. Only downside is the keep/tower is locked up nearly all the time.
Barry Allan Scott Art (9 months ago)
Beautiful castle with intact and fairly old tower which has been closed to the public for some time. The grounds are accessible and worth a look around to explore. However the educational boards could do with some updating. The car park was blocked off and I'd really like to see an attempt to open it as an attraction again. So, while it's a lovely and photogenic wee castle... it does have its drawbacks right now with no facilities to speak of and little in the way of visitor information. Hence the 3 stars. It could be so much more. Understandably, accessibility is poor as there is an uphill walk over a country track to the castle from the parking area...most of which has been closed for ages. The grounds are uneven with paths that are acceptable for the able bodied, but not maintained frequently, let alone for wheelchairs.
Man and Van Services (man and van Fife) (9 months ago)
500 hundred years of history set in beautiful countryside. Worth taking a look.
Duncan Fair (11 months ago)
Short walk from main road. Restricted parking. For some reason the car park is closed. No facilities. Great viewpoint. Used to be someone’s house.
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