Places to Visit in Scotland
- Balgonie Castle, Fife
Leaving the Fife coast road, and cutting inland towards the new town of Glenrothes, Balgonie Castle is off the main road at Milton of Balgonie, overlooking the river Leven. Unlike many of the castles in this part of Fife, Balgonie is now occupied. It was in a poor state of repair in the 1950s but has been restored by the "Laird of Balgonie" and the owner not only escorts visitors around his castle, he hires it out as a romantic setting for weddings and other functions. When I arrived, I was tempted to go through the entrance gate, but paused for a moment to take some pictures. It was just as well, because a few minutes later two large dogs came bounding round the corner, barking furiously at me. They were followed some minutes later by the Laird who asked if I wanted to see round the castle. I took another look at the dogs and declined!
The castle consists of a 14th century tower house, rising to five storeys, with walls 2.4 metres thick. There is a large hall and a chapel and a vaulted basement. The castle was first built by the Sibbald family but passed by marriage to Sir Robert Lundie who was Lord High Treasurer at the end of the 15th century. King James IV> and Mary Queen of Scots> are known to have visited the castle (Mary seems to have visited most places in Central Scotland and the Borders!)
In the 17th century the castle was owned by Alexander Leslie who fought for Sweden in the 30 Years War. Leslie later fought against Oliver Cromwell> at the Battle of Dunbar> in 1650. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London but the intervention of the Queen of Sweden saved his life and he died at Balgonie in 1661. Later, in 1716, the castle was captured and set on fire by Rob Roy MacGregor> and his clansmen.
The castle is said to be haunted by a "Green Lady" and a 17th century soldier and there have been apparitions and voices in the main hall. But those baying hounds are real!
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