Balvenie Castle, Dufftown, Speyside

This evening, I am providing information on Balvenie Castle which is close to Dufftown in the Speyside region of Scotland, about 51 miles N.W. of Aberdeen.

Dufftown sits at the heart of the Speyside whisky region.Balvenie Castle is within walking distance of Glenfiddich and Balvenie distilleries.

Summary facts and information

Key structural features

  • Tall, thick curtain wall dating from original construction in 13th century.
  • Ditch (dry moat) which is still visible along the south and west sides.
  • East Range Hall, probably of 15th century date.
  • Round Tower in the castle’s eastern corner.
  • Twin stair-towers of the Atholl Lodging.
  • High status, private chambers arranged over two floors.

Distinctive Details

  • L-Shaped staircase in west range.
  • Heraldry as manifested in heraldic devices in the east facade.
  • Yett: A distinctive, defensive iron gate

Chronology of Noble Residents

  • Probably built by the powerful ‘Black Comyns’, Earls of Buchan in the late 13th century.
  • Black Comyns overthrown by King Robert the Bruce in 1308.
  • By 1400 castle under control of the ‘Black Douglases’ who were in turn overthrown in 1455 by King James II.
  • Castle under control of John Stewart and his descendants for 250 years from 1455.

Other information

  • There is believed to be a pit close to the castle walls which contains the bones of a Viking army destroyed by King Malcolm II of Scotland in the Battle of Mortlach (1005).
  • This castle had a relatively peaceful history with no sieges.
  • The castle’s location is of strategic importance, sitting above the waters of the Fiddich, due to control of communications between Aberdeenshire and Strathspey.
  • Mary Queen of Scots visited in September, 1562.
  • Managed by Historic Scotland and open between March and September.

Entrance Facade, Balvenie Castle, Scotland

South and West Ranges, Balvenie Castle

Courtyard Facade, Balvenie Castle

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