BALVAIRD CASTLE

Balvaird Castle was an L-plan Tower House built in the early sixteenth century by Sir Andrew Murray following his marriage to Margaret Barclay. It remained in use as the primary residence of the Murrays for almost two hundred years but thereafter Scone Palace became their family seat and Balvaird was allowed to drift into ruin.

History

 

Balvaird Castle occupies a high ridge dominating a key north/south route between Dunfermline and Perth as it runs between the Lomond and Ochil Hills. It was built by Sir Andrew Murray circa-1500 after his marriage to Margaret Barclay. Along with Balvaird, her dowry included extensive lands centred around Glenfarg, a mile to the west, making the castle ideally suited to managing the estate. Based on the name, Balvaird means 'town of the Bard', it is probable that an earlier castle may have occupied the site, perhaps established in the twelfth century when the Anglo-Norman Barclay family first settled in Scotland.

 

The castle was dominated by the four storey L-plan Tower House. The ground floor consisted of a kitchen and storerooms, the first floor was the Great Hall and high status accommodation occupied the levels above. To the south of the Tower was a courtyard with wings on all sides hosting the ancillary functions associated with such a settlement. To the north of the tower were stables. Formal gardens were also laid out around the Tower.

 

The Murrays of Balvaird rose in prominence throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth century acquiring the titles of Lord Balvaird (1641), Viscount Stormont (1602) and Earl of Mansfield (1776).  Balvaird no longer matched their status and by 1685 they had established their primary family seat at Scone Palace. Balvaird was relegated to serving as accommodation for estate workers but by 1850 had fallen into ruin.

 

 

Bibliography

 

CANMORE (2016). Balvaird Castle. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Coventry, M (2001). The castles of Scotland. Musselburgh.

Coventry, M (2008). Castles of the Clans: the strongholds and seats of 750 Scottish families and clans. Musselburgh.

Cruden, S (1960). The Scottish Castle. Edinburgh.

MacGibbon, D and Ross, T (1892). The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries. Edinburgh.

Salter, M (2002). The Castles of Central Scotland. Foly Publications, Malvern.

Tranter, N (1962). The fortified house in Scotland. Edinburgh.

What's There?

Balvaird Castle consists of a sixteenth century L-plan Tower House along with ruins of various courtyard and ancillary buildings.

Balvaird Castle. The structure seen today was started by Sir Andrew Murray circa-1500 and regularly modified in the century that followed. Prior to the construction of this castle, the site may well have been occupied by an earlier fortification, possibly a twelfth century earth and timber castle built by the Anglo-Norman Barclay family.

Tower House. The L-plan Tower House was built circa-1500. Note the corbelled parapet with angle-rounds.

Gatehouse. The gatehouse was added circa-1567 and undoubtedly replaced a simpler structure.

Stables.

Getting There

Balvaird Castle is found off the A912 to the north of Gateside. The site is in the care of Historic Environment Scotland and is well sign-posted. There is a small car park at the base of the hill.

Car Park

A912, KY14 7SW

56.287877N 3.348519W

Balvaird Castle

No Postcode

56.289006N 3.342668W