Clan Leslie Society
Australia & New Zealand

(CLANZ)




Balquhain Castle Aberdeenshire - Balquhain Castle is to the east of Bennachie, in the district of the Garioch, Aberdeenshire, about three miles to the northwest of Inverurie. It is also about 1½ miles directly across from the memorial to the fallen at Harlaw, on the other side of the river Urie.

Today, except for the east wall of what was once a huge keep or square tower, the castle is a complete ruin. George Leslie 1st Baron of Balquhain, acquired several Baronies from his father in 1340, which he consolidated into one Barony and called it Balquhain, per charter granted by King David II. The original castle, a quadrangular turreted building, having an enclosed courtyard with towers at the front, was burned down in a feud with the Forbes in 1526. Upon rebuilding the castle, including the construction of the high square tower or keep, Sir William Leslie, 7th Baron of Balquhain, not only made it a place of strength, but of considerable comfort and elegance. It remained the principal residence of the Barons of Balquhain until 1690 when Patrick, Count Leslie, 15th Baron of Balquhain, decided to move to Fetternear House, which had come into the Leslie’s possession in 1566. His son George, with his family continued to live at Balquhain until the death of his father in 1710, when he, the now 16th Baron of Balquhain decided to move to Fetternear House. While there was some deterioration of the Castle after it was abandoned to tenants, deliberate destruction did not occur until after 1746, when roof and flooring timbers were scavenged. Whether the castle was destroyed on the orders of the Duke of Cumberland, after Culloden in 1746 seems to be a matter of conjecture – it probably was. After the roof fell in, it became a source of stone for building of other houses.

Incidentally, the hearth stone of the castle is in fact, the title to which, together with a nine foot square of land, was conveyed in the latter part of 1957, by an exchange of deeds, whereby the late Mr Ian W Strachan, the owner of the remains of Balquhain, castle and all, conveyed the property to Sir Alistair Leslie, 30th Baron of Balquhain, who in turn, conveyed the property to Mr Strachan, less the hearth stone and the nine foot square of land. By such means, with the concurrence of the Lord Lyon, Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, Alastair Leslie regained the “superiority” of the castle for the Balquhain Leslies, as the hearthstone is considered to be the seat of all Scottish Castles. Now Sir Alistair may come and sit in his chair on his square of land and admire the hearth stone. Just how often Sir Alistair may do this is problematical as he has been a resident in Rotorua New Zealand since about 1933. In consideration of his co-operation in restoring the castle to the Leslies, Barons of Balquhain, Mr Strachan, was made “Hereditary Keeper of the Castle”. In August 1958, he received a beautiful symbolic key to the castle, in solid silver, about 5 inches long, inscribed on the handle “ Cap Cas” in latin, meaning, “Captain of the Castle”. In the centre of the handle is a white shield displaying the arms of the Leslies, surmounted by a red crown. The title is hereditary so William Strachan, the eldest son, succeeded to the title in 1975 on the death of his father.

Courtesy Clan Leslie Charitable Trust “The Griffin Reprints” First Series No 2 Post script:- Alastair Patrick Leslie 30th Baron of Balquhain died in Rotorua New Zealand in 1989 with no male heir.