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:
Easter Aquhorthies stone circle, located near Inverurie, is one of the best-preserved examples of a recumbent stone circle, and one of the few that still have their full complement of stones. It consists of a ring of nine stones, eight of which are grey granite and one red jasper. Two more grey granite stones flank a recumbent of red granite flecked with crystals and lines of quartz. The circle is particularly notable for its builders' use of polychromy in the stones, with the reddish ones situated on the SSW side and the grey ones opposite.
The placename Aquhorthies derives from a Scottish Gaelic word meaning 'field of prayer', and may indicate a 'long continuity of sanctity' between the Stone or Bronze Age circle builders and their much later Gaelic successors millennia later. The circle's surroundings were landscaped in the late 19th century, and it sits within a small fenced and walled enclosure. A stone dyke, known as a roundel, was built around the circle some time between 1847 and 1866–7.