The remains of Burleigh Castle are located just outside the village of Milnathort. It now sits beside the A911 road, opposite a 19th-century steading, recently adapted into housing.

The lands of Burleigh were held by the Balfours from 1456, when they were granted by James II to John Balfour of Balgarvie, and a tower house was erected in the late 15th or early 16th century. Sir James Balfour of Pittendreich extended the castle in the late 16th century, adding a curtain wall with a corner tower, and other outbuildings. James VI of Scotland was a frequent visitor in the castle in the time of his son, Sir Michael Balfour. 

The remains of the castle comprise the western part of what was once a square courtyard or barmkin. In the north-west corner, the original tower house survives largely intact (though one of the first floor windows has been greatly enlarged) to three storeys and a garret in height. The 1.5 m thick walls rise to corbels which once supported a parapet walk. The roof and internal floors are now gone, although the vaulted basement remains. The turnpike stair in the north-east corner originally led up to a caphouse giving access to the parapet walk.

To the south-west is a 16th-century corner tower, two storeys high above a basement, which retains its roof. The tower is round at the base, and corbelled out to a square upper storey, and is a particularly fine and picturesque example of Scottish baronial architecture of the period. Its masonry is happily very well preserved. Both this tower and the keep have gun loops around the base to deter attackers. The corner tower also has small round pistol-holes at cap-house level, though these may have been included more for their decorative effect than to provide a true defensive capability. Engraved on the north gable is the date 1582, and the initials IB and MB, for Sir James Balfour and his wife Margaret. The two towers are connected by a section of curtain wall pierced by an arched gate. Though now only a 'skin' of masonry, this wall once fronted a two-storey gatehouse. With its string-course, hood-mould over the gateway and moulded surround formerly containing a heraldic panel, this wall is an excellent example of small-scale but refined architectural sophistication of its period in Scotland (probably contemporary with the round corner tower). A defensive moat may have surrounded the barmkin in the past.

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Founded: 15th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

macedonboy (6 months ago)
Like a very early example of Scottish Baronial architecture.
Silvia Verdu (8 months ago)
Small but worth a stop. The only problem is if you are driving, there is no parking space.
Lisa Treanor (8 months ago)
I discovered this wee gem by mistake when I was driving back from Bishop Hill. It's currently closed, however I took some photos from outside. It is absolutely beautiful and Historic Environment Scotland as always have done an amazing job of maintaining it
James Drinkwater (2 years ago)
If you're looking for a quiet, secluded slice of Scotland, this is the place. There's not a massive amount to see (you'll have seen it all in 10-15 minutes), but if you're heading to someplace with this on your route I'd make a stop. If you can, aim for sunset. The photo opportunities are amazing.
Demon Dagon (2 years ago)
Burleigh castle hidden gem, what is left off it good place to stop look around you can see the original entrance way where the draw bridge was and I can actually see where the stone went from castles ruins, to cottages across road there is no parking here but you can park near it if your careful it's on tight bend but traffic is very very light
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