Balvaird Castle, Perthshire
~ History ~
1500's ~ Balvaird Castle is built for Sir Andrew Murray over the top of an earlier ruinous castle owned by the Barclay family. He acquired the lands of Balvaird through marriage to the heiress Margaret Barclay, a member of a wealthy family.
1562 ~ The Murray's support Mary, Queen of Scots, against the 4th Earl of Huntly at the Battle of Corrichie
1565 ~ A zealous Sir William Murray, in the presence of King James VI, breaks the face of the Earl of Argyll's face with the hilt of his sword. He is obliged to leave Scotland for France, but is later pardoned and returned to Royal favour.
1567 ~ A gatehouse is built together with an outer courtyard and stables, which adds an extra layer of defence to the castle. Another courtyard to the south is a garden, while a much larger walled area to the north-east is an orchard.
1570 ~ John Sinclair, Master of Caithness, son of George Sinclair 4th Earl of Caithness, chief of Clan Sinclair burns the Cathedral in pursuit of men from the Clan Murray who had taken refuge in the steeple. John's father imprisons him in Sinclair Girnigoe Castle for the next seven years as punishment for this act.
1594 ~ At the Battle of Glenlivet, the Murrays fight on the side of the Earl of Argyll whose forces consist of 10,000 Highlanders from Clan Campbell, Clan Forbes, and the Chattan Confederation of Clan MacKintosh. Their enemy is the Earl of Huntly whose forces consist of 2,000 Highlanders from Clan Gordon, Clan Comyn and Clan Cameron.
1644 ~ Chief of Clan Murray, James Murray is a firm Royalist supporter of King James Charles I. However, at the Battle of Tippermuir James leads 1,800 clan men in support of Lord Elcho's 7,000 infantry and 7,800 cavalry, against his King's army led by Lord Montrose, whose entire army totals just over 2,000 men, made up of Highlanders and Irish. Through Montrose military genius he overcomes the much larger army under Lord Elcho turning a Royalist victory into a rout.
1658 ~ The family inherit the Earldom of Mansfield and move to the rather more comfortable Scone Palace, near Perth. Thereafter the castle continues to be inhabited by farm workers.
4 miles south of Bridge of Earn
Balvaird Castle is perched on a hilltop overlooking the A912 as it makes its way over the eastern arm of the Ochil Hills, about a mile south of junction.
Its location dominates the surrounding countryside.
There is a visitors' car park next to the main road below the castle, though if it's locked, as its was when we visited, there is space to leave your car without causing an obstruction near the car park entrance.
From there you make your way up the gravel track that curves round to the arched entrance of the castle itself. On route you increasingly appreciate just how wild and lonely a spot this is.
Today the castle comprises a very large tower house and the ruins of a number of the courtyard buildings.
Balvaird Castle isn't overrun by visitors, even on a busy day you may just catch the occasional dog walker as we did.
This is a remote and beautiful castle in a commanding position with plenty to explore. Well worth short walk up from the car park.
The only disappointing thing about the castle is its lack of history.