Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Balcaskie House

Country House (17th Century)

Site Name Balcaskie House

Classification Country House (17th Century)

Canmore ID 34206

Site Number NO50SW 2

NGR NO 52469 03579

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2024.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

First 100 images shown. See the Collections panel (below) for a link to all digital images.

Administrative Areas

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Carnbee
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District North East Fife
  • Former County Fife

Archaeology Notes

NO50SW 2.00 52469 03579

(NO 5248 0357) Balcaskie House (NAT)

OS 6" map (1938)

NO50SW 2.01 NO 5248 0354 Sundial

NO50SW 2.02 NO 52498 03508 Terraced Garden

NO50SW 2.03 NO 5243 0357 Stables

NO50SW 2.04 NO 51172 03235 West Lodge

NO50SW 2.05 NO 53031 03887 Gate Piers and Dovecots (East Lodge)

NO50SW 2.06 NO 52326 03934 and NO 52313 03939 North Lodge and Gate Piers

NO50SW 2.07 NO 53023 03860 East Lodge

NO50SW 2.08 NO 52122 03617 Bridge (West Drive)

NO50SW 2.09 NO 5260 0356 Ice House

NO50SW 55 NO 52667 03673 Balcaskie Cottages (Home Farm)


Owner: Mrs Anstruther

Architect: Sir William Bruce, c.1670

William Burn, 1827, alterations and additions

David Bryce, 1853, additions



Country Life, 2nd March 1912 - article and photographs


Drawings Collection

John James Joass - perspective & view on terrace

NMR, Swindon

6 late 19th century photographs in the Inigo Thomas album, purchased by NMR in 1997.

(Undated) information in NMRS.

Balcaskie House: In 1665, Sir William Bruce, architect to Charles II, purchased Balcaskie which is referred to in 1647 as the manor place of Balcaskie. It seems more likely that Bruce altered this older house extensively rather than that he built an entirely new house. The present lay-out was a favourite of his. This house is occupied and in a good state of preservation.


As described. No further information.

Visited by OS (DWR) 30 May 1974.


Field Visit (27 May 1926)

Ba1caskie House.

The mansion of Balcaskie stands amid pleasant parks, sloping towards the sea, 11 miles west of Pittenweem Station. Since 1745, the date borne on the piers of the entrance gates, there has been an .approach from the east, but the original approach was from the north-west, where a straight avenue leads to a forecourt now enclosed in front by a yew hedge, at the back by the house, and at the sides by curving screen-walls with terminal pavilions which house the offices. This was a favourite lay-out of Sir William Bruce, architect to Charles II and the designer of Kinross House (NO10SW 12), who purchased Balcaskie from the Moncrieffs in 1665. At that date there was already a house upon the site, which is referred to in 1647 as the manor-place of Balcaskie, land it seems more likely that Bruce altered this older house extensively than that he erected an entirely new building. He occupied Balcaskie for nearly twenty years and was probably responsible for the lay-out of the gardens, which are designed leading down towards the sea, with the house in the background. The garden or south front opens on a lawn. Beneath this, at a lower level, is a terrace garden, and still lower the walled garden. A vista is formed in the wooded parks beyond, giving a view of the Lothian coast and the Bass Rock.

On plan the house comprises an oblong main block of three storeys with projecting pavilions at the four corners, but the space at the sides between the pavilions has been built up at a comparatively recent date. The north front of the main block, which, it is clear, was originally a storey lower, has a gable at each end, and the western gable also has obviously been heightened. The masonry is of rubble. The windows of the main block are rounded at jamb and lintel. A Venetian window and a porch are relatively modern additions. The pavilions have moulded eaves-courses, back-set and channelled quoins, and window margins. In each of the screen walls there is a central doorway with three niches on either side. The terminal pavilions are two-storeyed and provide, on the lower floors, a laundry on the east and a coach-house on the west. In detail these two buildings are very similar to other work of Bruce's at Hopetoun, West Lothian (2). In the garden front is a central doorway with a pediment, partly obscured by a modern verandah, bearing a monogram D.I.S., possibly for one of the Strangs, who preceded the Moncrieffs in the property. The upper windows here are semidormers, and it is possible that the wall-head has been raised on this side also. Below the sills of some of the lower windows are dummy ‘gun-holes’.

The principal apartments are on the first floor. On the north is a gallery, and behind it the library with a modelled plaster ceiling containing a picture panel on canvas, the .dining-room with a modelled ceiling having a picture panel executed on plaster, and the drawing-room, the ceiling of which has flat panels save at the oval centre which is in fairly heavy relief. Above the library is the ‘globe room’ having a coved ceiling with modelled bands, from which depends a globe bearing the zodiacal signs. A modelled plaster ceiling in a room to the east of this bears the intertwined initials of Sir William Bruce and his first wife, Mary Halkett of Pitfirrane.

Balcaskie is occupied and is in good preservation.

HISTORICAL NOTE. On the Balcaskie families see East Neuk of Fife, pp. 270-8. Sir Robert Anstruther purchased the estate about 1698. Sibbald in 1710 described Balcaskie as ‘a very pretty new house, with all modern conveniences of terraces, gardens, parks, and planting’ (3).

RCAHMS 1933, visited 27 May 1926.

(1) Inquis. Spec. Fife, No. 728. (2) Inventory, West Lothian, No. 280. (3) History of Fife, etc. (ed. 1803), p.338.

Photographic Survey (1941 - 1945)

Photographic survey of Balcaskie House and garden, Fife, by the National Buildings Record Scottish Council.

Photographic Survey (27 June 1957 - 3 July 1957)

Photographic survey of Balcaskie House and garden, Fife by the Scottish National Buildings Record/Ministry of Works in June and July 1957.


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions