Balvaird Castle – Hilltop Lookout

Balvaird Castle stands on a hilltop on a wild and lonely spot in the Ochil Hills. It is about three miles from Glenfarg, not far from Perth in Perthshire, Scotland. A remnant of feudal times it commands an excellent view over the Eden valley and the Lomonds.

Balvaird Castle was built in 1500 by Sir Andrew Murray of Tullibardine. He had acquired the land as part of the dowry on his marriage to a Barclay daughter. Balvaird Castle was built on the site of an earlier Barclay family castle.

The castle comprises a very large L-plan tower house with three stories and an attic. The entrance is a single door in the stair tower in the center. A corbelled parapet surrounds the top of the main block. Above the stair tower, at the head of the main staircase on the roof level, is a walkway around the main block. It has a two-storey, crow-step gabled watch room or look out tower with its own parapet.

The ground floor was meant for the castle services such as the kitchen and also has a pit prison within the wall. The rest of the accommodation is built in an interesting stepped plan that has the larger rooms in the main block connected with the smaller rooms in the wing. The main staircase was in a stair tower between the two.

The castle was built, altered, developed and improved over many years. A gatehouse range was built in 1567. The castle was further extended in 1581 by the addition of a walled courtyard and gatehouse. At a later date the living quarters on the first floor was extended out over the gatehouse. The castle also incorporated various walled gardens and an orchard. The remnants of a number of the courtyard buildings that supported the running of the castle are seen.

The Murray family continued to reside at Balvaird until they inherited the Earldom of Mansfield. They moved in 1658 and by 1845 the elegant buildings had fallen into disrepair. It served as accommodation for farm workers for some time. Balvaird Castle was acquired by Historic Scotland in 1974 and restored to its former glory.

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