Balvenie Castle

Mary, Queen of Scots Home Page

Entrance to Balvenie Castle

The Comyns built the first castle, then called Mortlach, which was destroyed or much reduced by the forces of Robert the Bruce in 1308. Balvenie passed to the Douglases, then to John Stewart, Earl of Atholl, son-in-law of the Earl of Huntly, in 1455. The castle was used by the Duke of Montrose during his campaign of 1644-5 against the Covenanters, and it was nearby that a Covenanter force, led by Alexander Leslie, defeated a Royalist army in 1649. The castle was abandoned in 1724, and the ruins were put into the care of the state in 1929.

Click here to see a reconstruction of the castle.

The 4th Earl of Atholl's new residence, built about 1550, was built on the palace plan, that is with a suite of rooms placed horizontally, as in the royal palaces of the Stewart kings at Stirling, Linlithgow and Edinburgh. The Earl's own lodging was on the first floor. His lady, Elizabeth Gordon, Countess of Atholl, had the apartment on the floor above. Both were similar with a sequence of three rooms: Hall, Outer Chamber and Inner Chamber. All were reception rooms, graded according to the rank of those being received. The Hall, the least restricted room, also served as the dining room; the Outer Chamber beyond was the ancestor of the drawing room and may have housed the earl's imposing chair and canopy of state, his symbol of lordship; the Inner Chamber through the far end was his bed-chamber. When Mary, Queen of Scots stayed here on 4th and 5th September 1562, she may have occupied the countess's lodging on the floor above.

Courtyard view of the building added by John Stewart, 4th Earl of Atholl

Open April to September. Tel.: 44+ (0)1340 820 121.

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