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Perth Castle

Castle (Medieval)

Site Name Perth Castle

Classification Castle (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Curfew Row; Balmoral Bar

Canmore ID 28392

Site Number NO12SW 28

NGR NO 1187 2381

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Perth And Kinross
  • Parish Perth
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Perth And Kinross
  • Former County Perthshire

Archaeology Notes

NO12SW 28 1187 2381.

A castle stood on the west side of the Curfew Row, in the space formerly existing between the houses at the southwest end of Blackfriar's Wynd and Messrs. Pullar's Works. Part of the ruins remained until about 1860 when they were removed. The courtyard is believed to have included the ground known as Skinner's or Glover's Yard, upon which the Free West Church and school were erected after 1843. The castle was obviously the same "keep" of Perth, in which Malcolm IV was besieged in 1160, and became the residence of the kings after the destruction of the Royal Palace (NO12SW 47) by the innundation of 1210.

R S Fittes 1885.

The Castle buidings seem to have extended northward to what was afterwards called the Friar's Croft. (NO12SW 6).

It seems unlikely to have been founded earlier than the sixth century and is said to have been dismantled by Bruce during the War of Independence.

S Cowan 1904.

The Balmoral Bar (Cunningham) has a plaque stating that it stands near the site of the castle.

P Baxter 1930.

(NO 1187 2381) Site of Castle destroyed 1210.

Information from M E C Stewart 9 January 1961.

The Balmoral Bar appears to have been destroyed before 1962.

Visited by OS (J L D) 24 August 1962.


Publication Account (1982)

Although there is no direct evidence with which to date the original castle it is first mentioned in a: 1157 x 1160 charter of Malcolm IV conferring on Dunfermline Abbey both the parish church of St.John's (a grant first made by his grandfather), and the chapel of the castle at Perth (RRS, i, 209). Early in his reign, David I had a mansio in the burgh (ESC, 1905, 65), but it is unclear when the castle was built. It is also unclear, what part, 1f any, the castle played in the riotous event of 1160, when Malcolm IV, on his return from Toulouse,was besieged unsuccessfully at Perth by the Earl of Strathearn and his adherents. Chroniclers make no specific mention of the castle.

What is clear is that Perth castle had a short history. In 1209, the river Tay flooded causing serious damage to the town. King William I, who was in residence at the time was forced to make his escape in a small boat. The flood destroyed both the standing structure and its castlehill (Duncan, 1973, 39-40). There is no evidence that the castle was ever rebuilt. A few years previous to the flood the merchant community won the right to have their own guild, and it may be perhaps that their feeling of pride and independence scotched any hope of the king's sheriff returning to a refurbished castle at Perth. It was during the first half of the thirteenth century that the crown built Kinclaven Castle, and the sheriff moved his storehouses there (Duncan, 1977, 469). Part of the castle site was granted to the Dominicans in the 1240s (Duncan, 1973, 40-1). Henceforth the Dominican Friary was to be the usual residence of Scottish monarchs when they were in Perth, until its destruction in 1559.

Information from ‘Historic Perth: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1982).


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