Aberdeenshire is home to many stunning historic castles, and Balvenie Castle is one of its most popular. This ruined Castle on the northern edge of Dufftown is great for budding tourists to add to their agenda when exploring Aberdeenshire and its many attractions.
Balvenie Castle, in particular, is a rare example of 13th-century military architecture, which you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in Scotland. If you want to know as much as you can about Balvenie Castle, you’ve come to the right place – we will cover the Castle’s history, how to get there, and attractions you need to keep an eye out for along the way.
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History of Balvenie Castle
Balvenie Castle has an intricate history that covers three different Scottish families. Balvenie Castle started as a mighty stronghold for the Comyn Earls of Buchan before being overthrown by the famed Robert the Bruce in 1306, who then took the Castle for himself.
For 100 years, Balvenie Castle fell off history’s scope of interest until the 1400s, when Sir James Douglas (James II) held the Castle. Half a century later, the ownership of Balvenie passed over to John Stewart, Earl of Atholl, after the Black Douglases Downfall. After that, Balvenie Castle was held by this family for the next 250 years! During this period, the Castle had notable visits from individuals like Mary, Queen of Scots and King Edward I of England.
In the 1700s, the Jacobites attacked Balvenie Castle and held it until the Duffs retook it. However, this was short-lived, and Balvenie Castle was not occupied after William Duff committed suicide.
Today, Balvenie Castle is a stunning attraction maintained and kept by the Historic Environment Scotland and is free to visit for anyone who stops by. How do you get to this Historic Scotland attraction?
How to Get There
Thankfully, Balvenie Castle is easy to reach from main cities like Aberdeen. If you set out from Aberdeen towards Huntly along the A96, proceed to Dufftown via the A920. Balvenie Castle sits right outside of Dufftown near the River Fiddich and is available to be visited for free.
The main entrance to the Castle is occasionally closed due to weather conditions, but this is very rare.
Attractions at Balvenie Castle
Once you’ve arrived at Balvenie Castle, keep your eye out for these attractions while visiting this noble residence:
Explore the Atholl Lodging
The Earl of Atholl certainly knows their architecture, which can be seen when you explore the Atholl Lodging within Balvenie Castle. The Atholl Lodging is a portion of the Castle affixed to the rightmost tower, which spirals up and grants splendid views of its surroundings.
At its entrance, you can see the open courtyard, which once held banquets and Scotland’s most notable Kings and Queens – you can feel the history with each step.
See the Double Yett
Before you even enter Balvenie Castle, you’ll notice you pass through a double-leafed yett — a barred gate that serves as extra protection against would-be intruders. What strikes many guests is the unique design and architecture of the double yett, as it soon fell out of fashion very quickly after this one was built.
The double yett marks Balvenie Caste’s unique militant past and the action it has seen.
Visit Glenfiddich Distillery
While you’re Dufftown, there’s no reason you shouldn’t cap off your visit to Balvenie Castle with a trip to the nearby Glenfiddich Distillery. The Distillery is a mere 10-minute walk from the Castle site and has lunch and drink sorted after a hefty exploration of the Balvenie Castle.
Explore Balvenie Castle’s Surroundings
The ruins of Balvenie Castle are as eye-catching as they come, but visitors should take advantage of the opportunity to look at the verdant and bountiful surroundings. You can almost imagine the nights spent looking out from the Castle’s rampart, the winding River Fiddich painting a gorgeous atmosphere to Balvenie.