Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

Balbithan House - Aberdeenshire

Balbithan Castle
Balbithan Castle

Balbithan is a fine 16th Century L-plan tower house of three storeys. It has a wide stair-tower in the re-entrant angle, the upper part of which was reached by a turret stair. Bartizans crown the gables. The walls are harled and the roof-line has been altered. There are later extensions. The main entrance is at the foot of the stair-tower. The ground floor is not vaulted and the main stair is straight. The hall, now the library and billiard room, on the first floor, has a small turnpike to the former kitchen below and up to the second floor. Private chambers occupied the floors above. Traces of tempera wall painting were uncovered during restoration.

The lands had belonged to the Abbey of Lindores, but were held by the Chalmers family from 1490. They moved from their previous castle at Old Balbithan because 'tis said, a cannon ball fired from the tower of Hallforest, a stronghold of the Keiths, landed in the Courtyard of their old castle. Balbithan was sacked by Covenanters in 1640, and the Marquis of Montrose made the castle a rendezvous during the wars with the Covenanters in the 1640's. It provided a refuge for Jacobites after the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The house had passed to the Hay family in 1690, but it was acquired by the Gordons early in the 18th Century, then Keith Earls of Kintore in 1859. It is in good condition and still occupied.

Wording taken from The Castles of Scotland Third Edition by Martin Coventry

Added: 14 Apr 2010 Updated: 07 Apr 2019
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