Places to Visit in Scotland
- Elcho Castle, Perthshire
Elcho Castle is three miles east of the city of Perth, along a minor road on the south bank of the river Tay - an attractive route, even without the prospect of a castle at the end of it. The castle is on a rocky knoll overlooking the river and is visible long before you reach it.
There may have been a castle here from as early as the 13th century (William Wallace> is said to have sheltered there) but nothing remains of this early building. The Wemyss (pronounced "Weems") family held the estate from 1468 and the present tower house was built in the 16th century, probably by Sir John Wemyss who died in 1572. The round tower bears the initials "E.I.W." which may refer to Earl John Wemyss who was the laird from 1622 to 1649 and became Lord of Elcho and Earl of Wemyss in 1633. David, Lord Elcho, fought at Culloden in 1746 for Bonnie Prince Charlie and had to escape to France. By 1780, the castle had fallen into decay but it was re-roofed in 1830 and is in a surprisingly good state of repair. The property is now maintained by Historic Scotland.
There is a labyrinth of stairs in the castle (there are six storeys, so there's a lot of climbing!) which take you through a hall via a spiral staircase, private chambers and a kitchen with a huge fireplace. The central block has four towers (two round and two square). The stairs also take you by several routes to the battlements at the top of the tower where you can get a great view of the river Tay estuary and back up towards Perth. The iron grilles over some of the windows are possibly original from the 16th century, and although it was not a major fortification, there are gun-ports around the base of the walls. The ruined round tower in the gardens was at one time part of a defensive wall.
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