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.References:
Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.
Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.
The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.
In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.
The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.
The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.