Ancient Monuments

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Ballinbreich Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Howe of Fife and Tay Coast, Fife

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Latitude: 56.3711 / 56°22'15"N

Longitude: -3.1805 / 3°10'49"W

OS Eastings: 327181

OS Northings: 720488

OS Grid: NO271204

Mapcode National: GBR 28.2KG4

Mapcode Global: WH6QP.34R6

Entry Name: Ballinbreich Castle

Scheduled Date: 23 July 1935

Last Amended: 8 September 2003

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM844

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: castle

Location: Flisk

County: Fife

Electoral Ward: Howe of Fife and Tay Coast

Traditional County: Fife


The monument comprises a major courtyard castle built for, and occupied by, the Leslie family. The estates were in their possession from before 1390, when it was confirmed to Norman Leslie. The family was ennobled by the earldom of Rothes in 1457, and the dukedom of Rothes and marquessate of Ballinbreich in 1680.

The castle stands on sloping ground on the south shore of the Tay. In its first identifiable form the main body of the castle appears to have been contained within a high curtain wall of basically quadrangular form, with the principal entrance through the south wall. There may have been ranges of buildings around the perimeter of much of the courtyard from the start, as there certainly were in its final state. The outstanding quality of the first phase of work is particularly clearly indicated by the detailing of the first-floor chapel, adjacent to the gatehouse, which had fine three-seat sedilia and a traceried east window.

There was much rebuilding of the ranges in the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the date for one phase of this may be indicated by a tradition that there used to be a metal plate in the castle with the date 1572 and the initials of the fourth earl. This phase of work involved the adaptation of the chapel to serve as a chamber (with the insertion of a barrel vault which incidentally obscured the piscina) and the addition of a fine stair tower of ashlar construction in the re-entrant angle between the south range and rebuilt west range. As part of this same operation a half-round tower with shot-holes in its lower walls was added on the south front, and there are indications that an outer courtyard to the east of the castle was either added or remodelled.

The castle was first scheduled in 1935, but this was confined to the footprint of the castle itself. The scheduling is now to be extended to embrace the area likely to have been occupied by the outer courtyard on the east, and to take in what may have been earthworks associated with the castle on the sides towards the Tay. The area to be scheduled is irregular, measuring 92.5m from south-south-west to north-north-east and 67m from south-south-east to north-north-west.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as an outstanding example of a large-scale fortified residence built for a family of major landholders who occupied it and remodelled it over an extended period from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Complementing the significance of the impressive upstanding structures of the castle is the archaeological potential of the earthworks that indicate the existence of outer enclosures associated with the castle, especially on its west, north and east sides.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NO22SE 8.0.


REGISTER OF THE GREAT SEAL Vol. 1, 308-9; Vol. 3, 31-2.

MacGibbon D and Ross T 1887, THE CASTELLEATED AND DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND, Vol. 2, Edinburgh, 410-417.


Gifford J 1988, THE BUILDINGS OF SCOTLAND, FIFE, London, 91-3.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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