Burleigh Castle is a small 16th century tower house that stands near Loch Leven — and awfully close to the road, if you ask me! It was once a large and imposing castle, but all that remains now is a ruined 15th century keep of four stories, joined to a surviving section of courtyard wall that contains a wide, arched gateway. Burleigh has an interesting feature, in that the corner tower is round at the base, but corbelled out to square at the top, ostensibly for more floor space. Another castle with this odd architural design is ardvreck castle. The caphouse at Burleigh is dated 1582. The walls have many shotholes and gunports, and some of the wooden sills remain in the walls.
The rectangular keep opposite the round tower had a corbelled-out parapet and garret, but those are gone except for a few stones. The entrance to the castle led through a lobby to a turnpike stair. As in many large castles, the basement is vaulted, and the hall was on the first floor. The staircase has been restored to the first floor, but we were not able to get inside the castle. The note on the door noted that a nearby neighbor had the keys, but we couldn’t determine which of the apartments to knock at. So, only outside pictures.
Burleigh was a property of the Balfours of Burleigh, who built the castle, from 1446. The castle remained in the family until 1757, when it was lost because of the bad behavior of its master. In 1707, the Master of Burleigh fell in love with a young servant girl and was sent abroad by his father to forget her. (Apparently this kind of thing was frowned upon by the other noble families). He swore that if she married while he was gone, he would return and kill her husband. Of course (being a practical woman), the girl married the local schoolteacher, and the master returned and shot the unfortunate husband. Burliegh fled, but was captured, tried, and sentenced to death by the axe. He managed to escape by exchanging clothes with his sister. He returned and fought for the Jacobites in the 1715 rising. The family was forfeited, and Burleigh died unmarried in 1757, when the castle passed to the Irwins, then to the Grahams of Kinross.
James VI was a frequent visitor to Burleigh, and Mary, Queen of Scots was prisoner at nearby loch leven castle.