the multi-turreted mansion of Balhousie Castle
the multi-turreted mansion of Balhousie Castle

Balhousie is not a true castle, although it does incorporate a 16th century towerhouse inside the newer building. It is a large mansion built in 1860. Balhousie originally served as the seat of the Earls of Kinnoul, and overlooks the North Inch of Perth.

The tower was held by the Eviot family until 1478, when it was sold to the Mercers, and later passed to the Hays, who owned it in 1631. The Hay arms appear on one wall, and a skewputt on another is dated 1631. The main block basement has two cellars and a kitchen without the usual connecting passage. The wing contains a wide stair from the entrance to the hall. A stair to a third story and attic in the main block are later additions.

In 1962, Balhousie Castle became the regimental headquarters and museum of the Black Watch. The museum spans three stories within the castle, and one wing serves as offices for the regiment’s officers. There were a number of camoflage-clad soldiers around when we went through the museum. Like many of the Highland Regiment museums, this one contained keepsakes, medals, campaign pennants, and other memorabilia from the regiment, which was founded in 1739. There is a small park and statue of a soldier near the castle.

Many people believe that the regiment was named for the distinctive dark tartan (or sett) that they wear. However, it is likely that they were called the “Black Watch” because the word for black, dhu, also means ‘hidden’ or ‘covert’, and may refer to their formation to spy on the Jacobite rebels.

the older part of the tower house, including the museum wing

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