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Ballindalloch Castle

Country House (Period Unassigned), Tower House (Medieval)

Site Name Ballindalloch Castle

Classification Country House (Period Unassigned), Tower House (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Ballindalloch Castle Estate; Ballindalloch Castle Policies

Canmore ID 16007

Site Number NJ13NE 4

NGR NJ 17847 36545

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Moray
  • Parish Inveravon
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Moray
  • Former County Banffshire

Accessing Scotland's Past Project

The Macpherson-Grant family has occupied Ballindalloch Castle, which lies in the Spey Valley overlooking the River Avon, since the sixteenth century.

The castle began as a traditional tower-house, built on a Z-plan, to which additions have been made over the course of four hundred years. The most substantial alterations were carried out in the mid-nineteenth century, with the entrance being moved to the east side of the building, and the construction of a courtyard and surrounding wings to the north of the original tower. In addition, the entire building was given a more castellated appearance, with the addition of gabled dormer windows, stair turrets with conical roofs and decorative details, such as monogrammed panels.

One of the earliest additions to the house was the building of the north and south wings, carried out by General Grant in the 1770s. It was reported that the entire north wing was built exclusively for the use of General Grant's favourite chef, brought over from France.

Text prepared by RCAHMS as part of the Accessing Scotland's Past project

Archaeology Notes

NJ13NE 4.00 17847 36545

(NJ 1785 3654) Ballindalloch Castle (NR).

OS 6" map, Banffshire, 2nd ed., (1905)

NJ13NE 4.01 NJ 17748 36733 Dovecot

NJ13NE 4.02 NJ 17798 37106 North Lodge (Gardener's Cottage)

NJ13NE 4.03 NJ 18351 35908 South Lodge (Bridge of Avon; Porter's Lodge)

NJ13NE 4.04 NJ 17871 36921 Stables

NJ13NE 4.05 NJ 18021 36791 Bow Cottage (Little Bow)

NJ13NE 4.06 NJ 18448 37063 East Lodge

NJ13NE 4.07 NJ 18046 37222 General James Grant Mausoleum

NJ13NE 4.08 NJ 17787 36938 Walled Garden

NJ13NE 4.09 NJ 18247 35964 Swiss Cottage

NJ13NE 4.10 NJ 17976 36721 Stables and Cartsheds, Central Range

NJ13NE 4.11 NJ 17799 36976 Bothy

NJ13NE 4.12 NJ 17980 36710 Stables and Cartsheds, South Range

NJ13NE 4.13 NJ 17974 36733 Stables and Cartsheds, North Range

For Castle Stripe (Ballindalloch Old Castle) at NJ 1848 3611, see NJ13NE 5.

For Tullochcarron Castle (NJ 1802 3502), see NJ13NE 6.

See also NJ13NE 50.00 and NJ13NE 56.

Ballindalloch Castle seems to have been built in the period 1542-1700 on the Z-plan, but has been altered and enlarged.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887-92.

Ballindalloch Castle, built in 1546, according to an inscription above the entrance to the oldest Z-plan part of the castle in the S. It is still occupied.

Visited by OS (N K B), 12 July 1967.

Architecture Notes

NJ13NE 4.00 17847 36545

OWNER: Sir Ewan MacPherson Grant of Ballindalloch

Mrs Oliver Russell (nee MacGregor)

ARCHITECT: Thomas MacKenzie of MacKenzie and Matthews alterations and additions 1853

Thomas Ross additions.

Right hand wing (-now removed) A & W Reid c. 1876

Alexander Ross (I.C. April 8, 1875).


Scottish Record Office.

Robert Logan's letters describing his plans for additions to the house. Estimates included.

1852. GD61/156/28-37

(Macfarlane of Ballindalloch)

Drawings also with A Mashal Mackenzie & Son, Aberdeen


Photographic Survey (1965)

Photographic survey of Ballindalloch Castle, Banffshire, by the Scottish National Buildings Record/Ministry of Work in 1965.

Publication Account (2007)

This irregular Z-plan sixteenth century tower house is built on the flood plain of the River Spey. It does not occupy a particularly defensible site and its building represents more settled times, although the building still maintained a martial face. About 1718 the two-storeyed kitchen wing was added, and about 1770 a matching wing was constructed, containing a new dining room on the ground floor with drawing room, library and a bedroom above.

In the later 1820s William Playfair prepared the plans and models for two schemes for a new house for Sir John Grant Macpherson. These were not executed as a consequence of the Muckle Spate of 1829, which necessitated over £8,000 being spent on flood repairs. The same Sir John employed William Robertson to make additions to Invereshie House in about 1830. In 1847 Mackenzie and Matthews of Elgin were employed to survey the existing castle and make proposals for alterations; Thomas Mackenzie had been William Robertson's principal assistant. The first scheme proposed a new entrance in the courtyard, the second a mini twin-towered Fyvie Castle entrance front, and the third scheme, which was as executed, included a simpler entrance at the base of an original tower in a Huntly Castle-inspired door case.

The main block was heightened and baronially adorned, but the ground plan remained largely the same. The biggest addition was the new service courtyard, where the Commissioners will have lunch. The interior was completely remodelled; the entrance hall was adorned with an umbrella vault, perhaps inspired by the staircase at Fyvie Castle. A new staircase was installed giving access to the added upper floors. In the c.1770 wing the dining room was converted into a billiard room, with the smoking room beyond; from here a turnpike stair went up to the new library with its dramatic oriel window on the first floor. The rest of the first floor was occupied by the new drawing room. The first floor bedroom was originally the Great Hall, and its ante-room was transformed into a dining room. The plasterwork in dining and drawing rooms was taken from moulds of the Craigievar Great Hall ceiling. The State Room fireplace at Huntly Castle inspired the fireplace in the dining room. A new floor of bedrooms was added above the drawing room.

This information is drawn from the extensive and lavishly illustrated report written by Thomas Mackenzie, a copy of which is held in RCAHMS Collections. It was compiled on the death of Sir John Grant Macpherson, so that his heir's trustees could know what had been done and what was to be done. The report includes a survey of the house before works started and the alternatiuve schemes. It forms a unique record of a building project in the mid-nineteenth century.

In 1878 a bedroom wing was added in front of the service wing. This was demolished in 1975 and the Victorian drawing room was converted into two bedrooms and the billiard room converted into the present drawing room.

Information from 'Commissioners' Field Meeting 2007'.

Photographic Survey (4 September 2013)

Photographed on behalf of the Buildings of Scotland publications 2013-14.


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