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Ballone castle, in 1979 | by arjayempee
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Ballone castle, in 1979

Here's another favourite of mine, one I made some enquiries about buying in the late 1980s, but fortunately it didn't happen because (1) my wife would have left me (for some reason I still fail to understand, she didn't want to live in a caravan for 3 or 4 years) and (2) the eventual buyers did a far better job of it than I probably would have.


Ballone castle was built in the late 16th century, presumably by the Dunbars who held the property from 1507 to the beginning of 17th century, when it was acquired by the MacKenzies (1623). It was a ruin by the mid-18th century. It is a fine example of the Z-plan fortified house, consisting of a main block, lying north to south and rising to three storeys and a garret, with one square and one round tower on diagonally opposite corners. Two slender stair turrets occupy re-entrant angles, one of which is capped with a watch chamber. There are corner turrets at the other angles, some of which are of unusual design, their roofs being of stone and not reaching the level of the main roof.


It is wonderfully situated (so long as you don't mind a wee bit of wind now and again) on cliffs looking out across the Moray Firth, a few miles south of Tarbert Ness in Ross-shire.


The photograph shows it as it was in 1979, some 8 years before I first went there, by which time more of it had fallen down.

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Taken on September 30, 2006