Historic Scotland

Opening times

Balvaird Castle can be viewed year-round (exterior only).

Facilities

 

History

We don’t know for certain who originally built Balvaird Castle, but heraldry above the front entrance gives us a clue. It depicts the impaled arms of Sir Andrew Murray and Dame Margaret Barclay, heiress of the baronies of Arngask and Kippo, which included Balvaird. They may have built Balvaird as their marital home after their wedding in about 1495.

As the Balvairds climbed the aristocratic ladder, they made extensive improvements to the castle. The courtyard buildings date to about 1567. These buildings incorporated earlier structures, possibly a hall. In the early 1600s further structures were added to the north, along with garden and orchard enclosures to the south and east.

Once the 2nd Lord Balvaird succeeded as 4th Viscount Stormont in 1658, they made Scone, north of Perth, their primary residence. Balvaird declined in importance, eventually becoming lodgings for farm labourers.

A sophisticated residence

The tower house has an ingenious design which sets it apart from its contemporaries. Features of note include:

  • the stair tower, positioned between the main block and wing, so the stair didn’t take up too much space
  • use of the wings to provide an additional room on each floor
  • cleverly positioned privies, which all feed into a single waste chute, flushed out by a rainwater tank
  • the fine fireplace and elaborate aumbry (wall cupboard) in the first-floor hall

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