Ballone Castle

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Alternative Names Bindal Muir; Tarbat Castle; Castlehaven
Site Type CASTLE
Canmore ID 15632
Site Number NH98SW 1
NGR NH 92881 83728
Former Region HIGHLAND
Datum OSGB36 - NGR

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Architectural Notes

Scottish Field, October 1951, p.49 "Balone Castle"-letter to editor

Non-Guardianship Sites Plan Collection, DC23064- DC23068, 1931.

(Undated) information in NMRS.

Notes and Activities

Archaeological Notes

NH98SW 1 92881 83728

(NH 9288 8373) Ballone Castle (NR)
OS 6" map, (1959)

This castle, built the Z-plan in the late 16th century (Tranter 1962-70), presumably by the Dunbars who held the property from 1507 to the beginning of the 17th century, was acquired by the MacKenzies in 1623 and was occupied until at least 1693 (Fraser 1876), but was ruinous by the mid-18th century (Macfarlane 1906-8).
It has been a very fine example of its kind consisting of a main block, lying N-S and rising to three storeys and a garret, with one square and one round corner tower. Two slender stair turrets occupy re-entrant angles and there are corner turrets at other angles. To the N, contemporary vaulted outbuildings, including a bake-house and other offices, were probably built against a wall which enclosed a small courtyard between the castle and the perpendicular rocks above the sea. The castle is first mentioned in the early 1600's as "the fortalicium" of Easter Tarbat (Reg Magni Sig Reg Scot 1984) for which property 'Ballone' appears to have been an alternative name (Fraser 1876). On the creation of the Earldom of Cromartie in 1703, the first earl, formerly Sir George MacKenzie, took 'Castlehaven' (from NH98NW 5) as one of his subsidiary titles and transferred that name to the castle. It appears to have been known as 'Castlehaven' for the remainder of the 18th century (OSA 1793), but by 1872 the locally accepted name appears to have been Ballone Castle (Ordnance Survey Name Book [ONB] 1872; MacGibbon and Ross 1887-92).
Statistical Account (OSA) 1793; Name Book 1872; W Fraser 1876; D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887-92; W Macfarlane 1906-8; N Tranter 1962-70; Reg Magni Sig Reg Scot 1984.

Ballone Castle, as described and illustrated, still stands two storeys high. There are traces of what may have been a curtain wall extending SW from the NW corner of the castle, and also along the cliff-top to the SE.
Visited by OS (A A), 19 September 1972.

Residential castle - stable condition.
Undergoing renovation, increasingly stable. Well set back from cliff, cliff is stable. No threat. Barrel vaulted cellar, partly collapsed and open to erosion edge at SE corner of castle. This is not being renovated.
CFA/MORA Coastal Assessment Survey 1998.

Books and References

Astaire and Martine, L and R (2000) Living in the Highlands, London
Page(s): 52-58 Held at RCAHMS D.20.AST

Beaton, E (1992a) Ross and Cromarty: an illustrated architectural guide, R I A S/Landmark Trust series Edinburgh
Page(s): 72 pl. p. 72 Held at RCAHMS D.6.ROS

Close-Brooks, J (1986a) Exploring Scotland's heritage: the Highlands, Exploring Scotland's heritage series Edinburgh
Page(s): 92-3, No. 38 plan, illust. Held at RCAHMS A.1.4.HER

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