Balvenie Castle in the Scottish Highlands:Home to the Comyns and other powerful families




(Above image is a capture of 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.
Castle Interior

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
  • One of many strategic castles controlled by the Comyn earls of Buchan.
  • 'Black' Comyns overthrown by King Robert the Bruce in 1308 at the Battle of Inverurie. Subsequent to the battle the Bruce laid waste to the region of Buchan thus ending the Comyns power in the north and hopes of achieving the monarchy.
  • 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 government agency, Historic Environment Scotland and open between March and September.

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