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Ballencrieff Castle facts for kids

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Ballencrieff Castle
Ballencrieff Castle from the west

Ballencrieff Castle, also known as Ballencrieff House, is a large tower house at Ballencrieff, East Lothian, Scotland. It is located three miles north west of Haddington, and one mile south of Aberlady.


The castle was built in 1507 when King James IV ordered his private secretary James Murray to build himself a fortified house at Ballencrieff. It was destroyed in or around 1545.

From around 1550 to 1580 the house was owned (and presumably rebuilt) by David Borthwick, Lord Lochill who renamed it Lochill Castle. In 1608 the Ballencrieff estate was bought by Sir Bernard Lindsay and then to Sir Patrick Murray in 1632, In 1679 it passed to Sir Peter Wedderburn and in 1755 was bought by George Murray, Lord Elibank, returning it to the Murray family.

Although it is said that General James Murray, a Governor of Canada, was born there in 1721, this would be unlikely as the Murray family did not own it at that time. The house burnt down accidentally in 1868, and stood roofless until it was restored between 1992 and 1997. It is now privately owned, and it is situated next to a free range rare breed pig farm.

Ballencrieff castle2
Ballencrieff Castle from the north

The long, rectangular-plan, tower has three storeys, including a vaulted basement, with a near-symmetrical north front. The tall, narrow south-east wing has crow-step gables. The castle, along with its walled garden and pavilion, is a category B listed building. During restoration works, 16th-century gun holes and wooden draw-bars on the windows, were discovered in the ruins. The remains of two early 17th-century moulded plaster ceilings with the initials and heraldry of Gideon Murray, and the remnants of an elaborate fireplace, were found on the first floor.

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