Elcho Castle - Standing Strong

Elcho Castle is well-preserved castle of the sixteenth century, just 150 meters from the south bank of the River Tay in Easter Elcho near Rhynd. It is four miles south-east of Perth and Kinross. The Z-plan tower house was designed as a castle that was both comfortable and easily defended.

Land was granted by James III to the Wemyss family in 1468 and the castle was probably built around 1570. The family head became Lord Elcho and Earl of Wemyss in 1633. The defensive nature of the castle can be seen in the ground floor where there is only one door, set into the angle between the main body of the tower and the staircase tower. Seventeen gunloops cover the entrance and protect for the castle. The small windows are heavily barred. The ground floor houses the kitchen with a huge fireplace and ovens and some other vaulted storerooms.

A very imposing curved stone staircase leads to the first floor where the main hall and bedroom existed. Decorative plasterwork is still visible in parts. There were two more upper floors, but now only the second floor is intact. The floors are connected by three spiral staircases. The roof again takes on a defensive role seen in the ground floor with walkways and guard towers.

The grounds of Elcho Castle still contain some partial remnants of the outer courtyard and small remains of ranges of buildings to the south including a chapel and a round tower with kiln. The overgrown gardens in the rear of the castle used to be a boat launch, with the water almost up to the level of the tower.

In 1746 David, Lord Elcho, survived the battle of Culloden on the side of the Jacobites but had to flee to France. By 1780, Elcho was abandoned and fell into decay and it was re-roofed by the Eighth Earl of Wemyss in 1830. He pulled down most of the buildings in the outer courtyard and recycled some of the material to build the lovely stone cottage. The Eleventh Earl of Wemyss placed the castle in the care of the State in 1929, and it is looked after by Historic Scotland. The family however still owns it.


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