Balfluig Castle


Balfluig Castle is located in the Howe (valley) of Alford on the River Don in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The castle was built in 1556, most likely by John Forbes of Balfluig (c.1520 – 1558) who was the second son of William, 2nd Laird of Corsindae (born c.1490), and great-grandson of the James, 2nd Lord Forbes (1424 – c.1462). The castle is a L-plan tower house with three stories and a garret. The wing is a story higher and is topped by a watch-tower with corbels.

The entrance is an arched doorway protected by gun-loops and the date “1556” is chiseled into the tapered stones (voussiors) forming the archway. The basement of the main block contains two vaulted chambers, the kitchen and the wine-cellar. There is a private stair to the Hall above, which has a vaulted withdrawing room attached. In the basement of the wing is a vaulted guardroom, which has a small prison beneath the turnpike stair. The tower is roughly built of pinned boulder rubble; the dressings are part sandstone and part granite.


Due to the extensive travel and military campaigns of Alexander, 10th Lord Forbes, many of his children with his second wife, Elizabeth Forbes, daughter of Robert Forbes of Rires, were born in his cousin’s estate of Balfluig. Those included: Jean Forbes in November 1628 (died in December 1629); John Forbes on November 19, 1629 (died in London on April 4, 1663); Elizabeth Forbes on August 2, 1638 (died in Bremen, Germany, in January 1660); Anna Forbes on October 10, 1639; Margaret Forbes on July 6, 1640 (died in April 1641); Arthur Forbes on June 19, 1641 (died in March 1643); and Christian Forbes on July 23, 1644.

Calvary Charge at the Battle of Alford

The roof and wooden structures of the castle were burned during the Battle of Alford on July 2, 1645. The battle was a victory of the Royalist army over the Scottish Covenanters in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. The Royalist army was led by James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose and chief of Clan Graham, (1612 – 1650.) The Covenanter army included calvary companies led by Sir William Forbes of Craigievar, 1st Baronet (1609 - 1648); John Forbes of Leslie (1562 -1646), son of William Forbes of Monymusk and Margaret Douglas; and William, Master of Forbes and later the 11th Lord Forbes (1620 - 1697). However, their cousin William Forbes of Skellater (1615 – c. 1695) fought against them in the Royalist army. (Learn more here: https://www.clan-forbes.org/post/battle-of-alford.


The lands of Balfluig were combined into the Barony of Alford and a new charter was granted in 1702 to John Forbes and George Forbes, his son. George was succeeded by his son John, who assumed his title in 1742. However, John sold the barony and castle to Francis Farquharson of Haughton in 1753. John went on to become a merchant in Rotterdam and never married.


The castle was used as farm house and eventually became derelict. Mark Tennant bought it in 1966 and restored the castle with the financial assistance of the Historic Buildings Council for Scotland. The castle was again restored in 1998 and can now be rented as a “self-catering” holiday accommodation.

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