Moray HER - NJ34SW0001 - BALVENIE CASTLE

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Main Details

Primary ReferenceNJ34SW0001
NameBALVENIE CASTLE
NRHE Card No.NJ34SW1
NRHE Numlink 16851
HES SM No. 90028
HES LB No.
Site Form Standing Structure
Site Condition Incomplete
Details Remains of a castle, of high architectural merit, which shows work of the 13-16th centuries. It was originally the stronghold of the Comyns, and was in existence by 1304. It is situated on a promontory above the River Fiddich, and commanded the mouths of Glen Rinnes and Glen Fiddich, the passes to Huntly, Keith and Cullen, and the route to Elgin. Much of the work of the early castle enclosure can be seen, including the quadrangular curtain wall, although the projecting angle towers have gone. The great flue of the 15th century kitchen and the brew cauldron setting in the brew house can still be seen on the south wall. In the early 16th century a range of service chambers were built against the inside of the east wall. The castle was remodelled in the mid 16th century, in a similar fashion to Huntly Castle, by the 4th Earl of Athol. It was last used militarily by the Marquis of Montrose in 1644. The castle passed to Alexdander Duff of Braco in the late 17th Century. Of exceptional interest is the wide, flat-bottomed ditch which enclosed the castle on three sides. In 1990 a watching brief was undertaken during alterations to the ground level of the castle's south range. A large kiln, possibly associated with a brewing vat, and a disturbed cobbled floor were uncovered. At the west end of the range were a number of pits, all pre-dating the 15th century buildings. One of the pits, which may have been clay lined, contained animal bones, charcoal, burnt clay and ash. In 1993, a watching brief was carried out by Scotia Archaeology over trenching for the installation of a power supply to the north-east round tower parallel to the north curtain wall, and over trenches into the tower and across its floor at ground level. Little of archaeological interest was uncovered within any of these trenches. In 2014, a watching brief was undertaken by Kirkdale Archaeology during the relocation of an information panel situated on the south side of the bend in the access path leading to the castle. There were no finds or features of archaeological significance. A programme of landscape, buildings and materials analysis at the castle (as part of the Univ of Stirling Scottish Medieval Castles and C14 Project) has identified various differences in form, masonry style and mortar compositions in the upstanding structure. It suggests that the enclosure walls either side of the north angle may be of an earlier building than previously thought.
Last Update15/10/2021
Updated Bycpalmer
Compiler 
Date of Compilation 

Easting: 332597.115809812, Northing: 840893.944237259

Google Map for NJ34SW0001

National Grid Reference: NJ 3259 4089



Event Details

Event DateEvent TypeOASIS ID
1990 Watching-Brief
1993 Watching-Brief
2014 Watching-Brief kirkdale1-196086
2018 Research Project

Excavations and Surveys


Artefact and Ecofact

Ecofact

Samples
Palynology
Ecofact Notes

Monument Types

Monument Type 1Monument Type 2Monument Type 3OrderProbability
CASTLES REMAINS OFA100
FOSSESSTONE-BUILT B100
DITCHES FLAT-BOTTOMEDC100
COURTYARDSQUADRANGULAR D100
TOWERSSALIENT E100
DRAW-BRIDGES SITE OFF100
TOWERSROUND G100
WINDOWS CORBELLEDH100
SILLS BOW-SHAPEDI100
LINTELS MOULDEDJ100
TRANSOMS OAKK100
GRILLESWROUGHT-IRONSITE OFL100
ROOFS CONICALM100
PANELSARMORIAL N100
ENTRANCES ARCHEDO100
GUN-LOOPS SPLAYEDP100
GARDEROBES PROJECTINGQ100
YETTSWROUGHT-IRONDOUBLE-LEAFEDR100
PENDS ARCHEDS100
GUARD-ROOMS VAULTEDT100
GABLES CROW-STEPPEDU100
GARDEROBESMURAL V100
OVENS BRICKW100
WALLSCURTAIN X100
STAIRCASESWHEEL Y100
BREWERIES  Z100
LINTELS CANOPIEDAA100