Balgonie Castle – Fife’s Oldest Tower
Balgonie Castle is the oldest tower that is still standing intact in the Kingdom of Fife. Built for Sir Thomas Sibbald of Balgonie around 1360, the baronial castle is situated in the heart of Fife and is perched on a steep bank overhanging the winding River Leven. Balgonie Castle passed to the Lundin or Lundie family through marriage and they were responsible for much of the castle’s expansion.
Built of the hardest of sandstone the castle is an imposing sight, rising 75 feet to the parapets. Even today the Great Hall retains its original design and structure including quaint window seats. Sir Robert Lundin built the North Range in 1496 as a result of which there was a defensive 10 foot gap between the range and the Tower. The range was a Hall House in its own right and included a corner tower from an earlier time.
In 1624 the Lundins sold Balgonie to two Boswell brothers who in turn sold it in 1635 to Sir Alexander Leslie who became First Earl of Leven. He added a two-storey building at the south-east corner of the courtyard. He rebuilt the northern range, adding a storey. A watchtower was added on the roof and a park constructed around the castle.
John Leslie who claimed the title in the 1660s built a grand stair, linking the original tower and north range, in the place of a wooden bridge. In 1681 David Melville became 7th earl of Leven and inherited Balgonie. He built a three storey range of buildings linking the north range with the south-east block. The 8th Earl of Leven sold Balgonie Castle in 1824 to Sir James Balfour of Whittinghame, who unfortunately was unable to maintain it.
The castle was badly vandalized in the 1960s and finally sold to David Maxwell in 1971. He restored the Tower before selling to the present Laird, Raymond Morris of Balgonie & Eddergoll, in 1985 who continued with the restoration. Today the Laird and Lady have opened their home and it is available as a romantic venue for a fairy tale wedding. It even has its own little chapel that was beautifully restored in 1989 and the magnificent Great Hall is perfect for a reception or dinner.