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Castles

Ballinbreich Castle

The ruins of Ballinbreich Castle can be seen almost three miles east of Newburgh on a steep bank on the southern shore overhanging the Firth of Tay. The ruins stand on private property but it was originally with the ancient Abernathy family before it passed by marriage to the Earls of Rothes. The Earls of Rothes took from it the title Baron Ballinbreich. Ballinbreich is a Celtic word which comes from of Balan-breac, meaning "town of trout". This is of course a reference to the abundant salmon to be found in the waters there.

In the 14th century Ballinbreich Castle was built just a small keep on the south wall of a large oblong courtyard. Alterations and additions were made in the15th century and 16th century. It was finally a three-storey L-plan castle with a rectangular courtyard enclosed by curtain wall. There were buildings on the three sides while there was a curtain wall on the fourth. The entire structure was surrounded by a moat and stood in the midst of a small plantation of trees. On the second floor of the castle one can see the remains of a chapel with certain structures like the seating for the clergy during mass and the water basin on the wall. The castle had been mined for decades and as a result one of the inner walls collapsed. It was then that the amazing 14th century masonry work was revealed, whose workmanship is considered unrivalled in Scotland.

Ballinbreich Castle, popularly known as Bambreich, was a magnificent structure in its day. It was three to four stories high and had a Great Hall that was 46 feet long and 17 feet wide. Sadly, the Barony of Ballinbreich was sold by John 10th Earl of Rothes to Sir Lawrence Dundas for just £20,000. Sir Lawrence Dundas promptly recovered the amount he had paid by cutting down and selling the trees in Ballinbreich. The Barony of Ballinbreich was later sold to finance the reconstruction of Leslie House that had been burnt down in 1763. It is difficult to assess which loss was greater to the family, the loss of the original Leslie House with its contents or the selling of Ballinbreich Castle.