Balhousie Castle was built in the seventeenth century by George Hay, Earl of Kinnoull in the form of an L-plan Tower House. It was  substantially rebuilt in the nineteenth century but, after World War II, it was requisitioned by the army and since 1962 has served as the Regimental headquarters for the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland.



Balhousie was originally owned by the Eviot family, several of whom served as Provosts of Perth. The site was purchased by the Mercer family in 1478 and they may have had some form of fortification on the site. However, in 1631 it was sold to George Hay, Earl of Kinnoull and he commenced construction of Balhousie Castle soon after. The newly built fortification was probably intended as a replacement for the Hay's original seat at Kinnoull Castle on the other side of the river.


The castle took the form of an L-plan Tower House overlooking the River Tay. The ground floor of the main block consisted of two storerooms and a kitchen. The first floor was occupied the Great Hall whilst the levels above would have hosted high status accommodation. The wing incorporated the entrance into the tower and a wide staircase that led up to the Hall. Outside the tower, a barmkin (curtain wall) surrounded the site and originally enclosed the ancillary buildings such as brewhouse, bakehouse and stables. At some point after its initial construction, alterations were made to the tower to improve habitability including enlargement of the windows.


By the nineteenth century the castle was ruinous but in 1862 it was substantially rebuilt by George Hay-Drummond, Earl of Kinnoull. The work was overseen by architect David Smart who re-modelled the castle in the latest baronial style which added turrets on the corners. The castle was requisitioned by the army after World War II and in 1962 it became the headquarters for the 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment, known as the Black Watch. It still serves in this role and also hosts the Regimental museum.



The Black Watch


The Black Watch was formed in the wake of the 1715 Jacobite rebellion which had seen large numbers of Highland clans rally to support the deposed Stewart (Stuart) dynasty. However, a number of clans had remained loyal to the British Government including the Campbells, Frasers, Grants and Munros. Seeking to exploit their local knowledge and expertise, the Government raised six companies of troops from these clans and deployed them across the Highlands to bring stability to the region. This ad hoc military group was re-organised into a more traditional Regimental structure in 1739 and placed under the command of John Lindsay, Earl of Crawford. They were called the Black Watch due to the dark colour of the Regimental tartan and their original role to perform a policing role across the Highlands. Although they were later reclassified as the 42nd (The Royal Highland) Regiment, they retained use of the name Black Watch. In 1786 the 2nd Battalion was reclassified 73rd (Royal Highlander) Regiment although this reverted back to the 42nd in 1881.


The Regiment was deployed to France in 1743 and the vacuum left by their absence helped the 1745 Jacobite rebellion gain traction. Later in the eighteenth century they served in India, the West Indies and the United States during the Revolutionary War where they fought a successful action at Brooklyn, New York. In the nineteenth century the Regiment fought at the Battle of Waterloo (1815) and participated in the Crimean, Sudan and Boer wars. During World War I they fought at the Battle of Mons (1914), the infamous rearguard acting against the advancing German army, and later served in both France and Mesopotamia. In the Second World War they served in Palestine, Crete, North Africa, Italy, North-West Europe and Burma. The Regiment survived the military cutbacks following the war and were later deployed to Korea where they participated at the Second Battle of the Hook (1952). The Regiment also fought in the 2003 Iraq War and in Afghanistan during Operation Herrick. The Regiment is currently known as the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland.





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What's There?

Balhousie Castle is an L-plan Tower House that was almost completely rebuilt in the mid-nineteenth century. It now hosts the Black Watch Regimental Museum.

Balhousie Castle. Although fragments of earlier masonry are evident in the structure, the castle was almost completely rebuilt in 1862.

Black Watch. Since 1962 the castle has served as the Regimental headquarters of the Black Watch.

Expansion. The 1862 rebuild retained the footprint of the original L-plan Tower House. However, in 2012 the structure was expanded with the addition of an annexe.

Clan Hay. The Hays were of Norman descent and settled in Scotland during the twelfth century with the first recorded reference dating to 1160 when William Hay held the hereditary position of Cup Bearer to King Malcolm IV in 1160. Their major castles are shown although there were many more - around 70 castles can be attributed to the clan.

Getting There

Balhousie Castle is found off Hay Street in Perth. There is a large public car park directly adjacent.

Balhousie Castle


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