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

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

macedonboy (7 days ago)
Visited back in September. This is one of the better tower houses still standing in Scotland. You can still see the grounds and the remaining walls in which the tower stood. With its commanding view of the surrounding countryside, you get a sense of why the tower is located here. The main tower is inaccessible, but from the exterior it's largely intact. The guardhouse and the small tower opposite that are really the only parts of the building that can be explored, although the latter does have a spiral staircase that semi-safe to climb.
Original (27 days ago)
Great small walk to this castle maybe the size of black Ness castle in its day
Alex Middleton (2 months ago)
Peaceful with nice views. Good walk up the hill too.
Ian Downs (IanD) (3 months ago)
Easy to walk to although parking is restricted to a few places. If the adjacent land was opened properly for parking, I'd give 5 stars. Nice gentle walk up and the castle is easily accessible. Not vast views but nice views of the local surrounding hills, peaceful too
T W (4 months ago)
Quiet. Secluded. Fantastic scenery. Notice boards on the grounds of the castle history. Kids loved running around the ruins.
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