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Balwearie Castle

Tower House (Medieval)

Site Name Balwearie Castle

Classification Tower House (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Balwearie Tower House

Canmore ID 52922

Site Number NT29SE 3

NGR NT 2516 9040

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Kirkcaldy And Dysart
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District Kirkcaldy
  • Former County Fife

Archaeology Notes

NT29SE 3 2516 9040

(NT 2516 9040) Balwearie Castle (NR) (Ruin)

OS 6" map, (1920)

REFERENCE: Edinburgh Public Library

Plans - James Grant's Sketch Book in MSS - Nos. 73-74 - Views and details in 1845 (55?).

(Undated) information in NMRS.

Balwearie Castle has been a 15th century tower. The north gable, east wall and part ofthe south wall stand fairly complete to their wallheads, about 45ft above ground, showing the tower to have been 43ft long and at least 28ft broad over walls averaging 6ft thick. The masonry, fairly cubical towards the base, is ashlar in 10 to 12 inch courses.

Tusking up to a height of 11ft on the SE angle suggests that a barmkin extended to the south and west.

RCAHMS 1933.

Balwearie Castle, and described by RCAHMS is fenced off and in a good state of preservation.

Visited by OS (W D J) 25 February 1959.


Field Visit (5 June 1925)

Balwearie Castle.

Balwearie has been an oblong 15th-century tower standing about 2 ½ miles north-west of Kinghorn on the flattened side of an extensive ridge, which rises as it runs westward but falls sharply on the flanks to north and south. The north gable and east wall, as well as part of the south wall, still stand fairly complete to their wall-heads, about 45 feet above the ground, showing the tower to have been 43 feet long and at least 28 feet broad, measured over walls averaging 6 feet in thickness. The masonry is ashlar, built in courses 10 to 12 inches in height with very tenacious shell-lime, and is fairly cubical towards the base of the walls. The voids are chamfered externally. A parapet-walk, borne on separate corbels of two members, has returned round the walls.

The accommodation comprised a ground floor, with an entresol beneath its vault, and three upper storeys. The entrance has been on the entresol level at the north end of the west wall, and the turnpike stair may be traced almost immediately over it, rising within the western angle from the entresol level and projecting into the apartments. The ground-floor vault is of ashlar, and the corbels for the timbers of the entre sol floor can still be seen beneath it in the east wall. The windows on the ground and entresol floors are narrpw, and only the entresol windows are furnished with stone seats. There is a garderobe with lamp recess and vent in the north wall of the entresol floor. The hall on the first floor has a garderobe in the north wall and windows with seats to north, east, and south. The southern window, with a delicate moulding on the jamb that remains, has resembled a window at Tulliallan Castle (No. 529), and has been provided with a mullion and transom; a locker in the east jamb is giblet-checked. The fireplace on this floor is an insertion. The second floor seems to have been divided into two rooms of unequal size. The southern room, which is the larger, contains traces of an unusually 'ample fireplace with jambs hollow-chamfered and furnished with moulded capitals and bases. The same room has a large southern window. The smaller chamber had a garderobe on the north, and a window with seats to the east, beside which is a fireplace that has been rebuilt. On the third floor the fireplace lintel has been supported on corbels, while the windows have been small in size and set between the corbels of the parapet.

On the south-east angle of the tower, tusking up to a height of 11 feet suggests that a barmkin extended to the south and west.

A freestone ball, 10 inches in diameter, lies about 20 yards north-east of the tower.

HISTORICAL NOTE. Sir Michael Scot is noted in 1280 as heir of Sir Richard of Balwearie (1). On 23 February 1463 /4 James III granted to William Scot of Balwearie free faculty and special licence to erect a castle or fortalice on his lands of Balwearie (2).

RCAHMS 1933, visited 5 June 1925.

(1) Reg. Dunf., No. 228. (2) The Melvilles, Earls of Melville, &c., Sir William Fraser, iii, p.46.


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