Hidden away in the Scottish Highlands is a castle with a dark past, ghostly present and royal connections. Dating back to the 1200s, it was built by a member of the Comyn family, one of Scotland’s most powerful and noble families of the time. During the early 14th century the family was overthrown by Robert the Bruce, after which the castle was not used for some time. It can be found on the northern edge of the village of Dufftown. Then ownership changed to the family of the ‘Black’ Douglases. How the castle came into the hands of the family is not documented but it is thought to have happened through the marriage of heiress, Joanna Murray to Archibald ‘the Grim’ who was the 3rd Earl of Douglas in 1362.
Balvenie Castle became a garrison during the Jacobite rebellion and the original remains make it one of the oldest stone castles in Scotland. Its history spans three dynasties, that of the ‘Black’ Comyns , ‘Black’ Douglases and the Stewarts. Mary Queen of Scots is said to have visited the castle in 1562.
Now the castle is a ruin but still has some of the finest examples of period architecture; the curtain wall is a rare example of 13th century Scottish military construction. The Atholl Lodging, shows the layout of the residence of the noble families that lived in the castle, containing some fine examples of Renaissance architecture and the iron crossed barred gate standing behind the main entrance is unique in design.
The castle is privately owned but managed by Historic Scotland and is open to the public seasonally from the beginning of April to the end of September.
The location attracts thousands of visitors every year but the site is not suitable for everyone and some visitors may find getting around the ruins difficult. But for those who make the trip the views from the top are spectacular and well worth the effort.
Visitors to the castle can also see the nearby Balvenie Distillery which was built in 1892. Balveine Castle holds a Gold award from the Green Tourism Business Scheme.
The ruins are reputed to be haunted by both a ‘white lady’ and phantom horses. Some people are reputed to have heard the sound of a flute being played and others are said to have heard unexplained voices.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
B9102 (Rd), Archiestown, Aberlour
Moray, Scotland, AB38 9SL
+44 (0)01340 810 414
- Address: Castle Road, Elgin, Dufftown, Moray, Scotland, United Kingdom, AB55 4DH
- GPS: 57.45315833,-3.124758333
- Phone: 0044 (0)1340 820 121
- Part of UK: Scotland
- Sat Nav Postcode: AB55 4DH
- Entrance Fees: Yes
- Disabled Access: Yes but uneven paths
- Visibility from Road: Good
- Image Credits: Header Image: Gail Johnson