Nestled amidst the rolling hills of Perthshire, Castle Menzies (pronounced ‘Mingiss’) stands tall and proud. It’s an exemplary example of a Scottish Z-shaped castle.
As you walk through the castle grounds you are transported to a different time, where chivalry and honour reigned, and tales of valour were etched in stone.
I took the opportunity to visit the castle during my recent trip to Lock Tay in Perthshire.
In this guide I’m going to give you a tour of my favourite rooms and tell you everything you need to know about visiting Castle Menzies in Weem.
What is Castle Menzies?
Constructed in the 16th-century, castle Menzies is nestled in the quaint village of Weem.
The castle is a great example of Scottish Renaissance architecture and is known for its grand halls, stately rooms, and intricate carvings.
Castle Menzies has been the seat of the Menzies Clan for centuries and has a rich history.
According to a comment from a clan member on a Youtube video, the name is pronounced ‘Mingiss’ not Menzies as you might expect.
The castle is owned by a Charitable Trust and open to the public for tours. Visitors can also explore the castle grounds and take in the stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Castle Menzies Map
Castle Menzies Quick facts
Operated by: The Menzies Charitable Trust
Dog-friendly: No dogs except guide dogs are permitted within the Castle.
Best time of year to visit: Early April to the end of October as the castle is closed outside of this period.
Best time of day to visit: Between 10.30am and 2:00pm to allow a few hours for the tour.
Entry costs: Adults £9.00, Children 6-16 years £4.50, Children under 6 years free
Car park costs: FREE
Opening times: Opens for the season from April 2023. Mon-Sun: 10.30am until 4.30pm, Sun: 2.00pm until 4.30pm. Bank and Public Holidays: open as usual. More information on the official website.
Food: The Castle Tea Room sells cold snacks and hot and cold drinks.
Top Tip: Occasionally they close early or all-day for a private event so give them a call first if you’re travelling a long way to visit.
- What’s Castle Menzies Like Inside?
- Castle Menzies History
- Who Owns Castle Menzies Today?
- Who lives in Castle Menzies?
- Was Castle Menzies used in Outlander?
- Is Castle Menzies Haunted?
- Does Castle Menzies Have a Cafe?
- The Menzies Clan
- Planning Your Visit to the Castle Menzies
- Is Castle Menzies worth visiting?
What’s Castle Menzies Like Inside?
The interior of Castle Menzies is simple and uncluttered. The architecture varies through the building due to the various additions and changes over the years.
As you might expect with a castle the interior is quite functional with thick stone walls, shot holes, lots of original timber and other amazing details. The floors are a mixture of stone and timber.
Let me take you on a tour of a few of my favourite rooms in the castle.
The Kitchens and Larder are on your right as you enter the castle. I believe this is classed as the basement. The risk of fire was high and it was necessary to keep the kitchen separate from the living quarters. The room featured an impressive great arched cooking hearth which was revealed during the renovations.
There is also a baking oven and a short hold (for defending the castle)
The kitchen leads to a larder through a very small door (if you’re tall like me you’re going to need to do a fair bit of ducking). In the larder there is another shot hole in the north wall.
On the left of the entrance are two cellar rooms with thick stone floors and walls. These are below the Main Hall and would have stored food, drink and tableware which would have been delivered to diners in the Main Hall via the small servants staircase placed in the thickness of the external wall.
Up the stairs on the first floor sits the Great Hall – a very grand room where the Menzies family would have entertained guests. The walls are covered by original oil paintings of the many generations of the Menzies clan leaders.
Beyond this is the cosy Withdrawing Room which was used as a place for the family and close friends to retire after dinner and entertain guests in a more intimate setting.
The withdrawing room was typically used by the lady of the house and her guests for activities such as tea, conversation, or other leisurely pursuits. It is decorated with fine furniture, paintings, and other decorative items.
Near the top of the castle we were treated to a bedroom which was dressed as it would have been when the house was lived in during the victorian era.
By contrast another bedroom was kept in the more minimalist style from the earlier 16th century style. This was the room of the head of the clan and featured a secret escape hatch just outside the room.
There are many more rooms to explore but these were some of my favourites.
Castle Menzies History
Castle Menzies is a classic Scottish Z-shaped castle. Steeped in history, most of the building is 16th century with a few parts dating back to the 15th-century.
The castle played a significant role in the Jacobite Rising of 1745 and was used as a military barracks during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The castle was later restored and converted into a family home in the 20th century.
Today, the castle is open to the public for tours and is maintained by the Menzies Charitable Trust.
Who Built Castle Menzies?
The history of the castle is quite complex and due to fires many of the documents were lost. I have tried to piece together the history from a few sources.
Around 1450 David Menzies and his son John built two towers and a connecting courtyard at the current castle Menzies site (Weem Rock). One of these towers appears to form the 15th century part of the current building.
After a fire at a Menzie’s clan castle, Comrie Castle in C1488, Sir Robert Menzies decided to build a mansion at the location of Castle Menzies. This new stronghold, called the Mansion Place of Weem, was smaller in size than the current Castle Menzies. As far as I can gather, this was built on to the existing two towers on the site.
After an attack by Neil Stuart in 1502, the owner of Garth Castle, the Place of Weem mansion was partially burned down.
At some point after the 11th Baron of Menzies, Sir Robert Menzies the Z shaped castle Menzies was built on what was believed to be the site of the Mansion Place of Weem.
It is thought that the Mansion Place of Weem forms the eastern end of the Z plan as there is a very thick internal wall between the hall and its ante-chamber on the first floor which would suggest it was once an external wall of an earlier building.
It was designed as a residence but also provided protection from enemies, it had battlements and two towers, but these were removed in 1577 when the threat had diminished and the roof was altered to give the castle its present appearance.
When was Castle Menzies built?
The current Z shaped Castle Menzies was built sometime after 1502 when the Place of Weem on the current site was burnt down. It also appears there were two towers in place before that at around 1450.
Has the Castle Changed Over Time?
The castle has been extended and altered over the years. A new wing was added in the early 18th century incorporating a grand wooden staircase.
Soon after the main entrance was formed at the front of the castle, replacing the old entrance to the left of the castle. The current porch was then added in Victorian times.
In 1840 a new wing was built using the original stone from the hillside in Loch Tay. This new wing connected up with the 18th century wing.
Sadly at the time the castle was purchased for £300 by its current owners, the 18th century additions were so riddled with dry rot that they had to be demolished to save the rest of the castle.
Castle Menzies Restoration
The Manzies Charitable Trust managed to save the historic 15th and 16th century buildings which reveal the early Z plan form and also restore the Victorian wing.
“Restorations were led by Dr A D Dewar (Bill) and his wife Ann, who spent a great deal of time and effort researching what was needed, raising funds and often hard, physical graft in a very hands-on style.” https://www.castlemenzies.org/history/
Who Owns Castle Menzies Today?
Castle Menzies was bought for £300 by the Menzies Charitable Trust in 1950. They have owned it over since and restored the building.
Who lives in Castle Menzies?
Currently no one lives in the main part of Castle Menzies although caretakers may live on the grounds. The Castle Menzies Farm Cottages are inhabited by holiday makers.
Was Castle Menzies used in Outlander?
Although it is a common search I couldn’t find any evidence of the outside of the castle being used in Outlander. However, one report suggested the corridor with the audio visual film playing may have been featured in the series.
The castles featured in Outlander which might be mistaken for Castle Menzies are Doune Castle (Castle Leoch) and Midhope Castle (Lallybroch).
Is Castle Menzies Haunted?
Yes, it appears the castle has a lot of paranormal activity. Although i didn’t see it myself there are clips from the CCTV in the castle showing very strange paranormal sightings.
There are reports of an orb mysteriously appearing in front of 40 people and ran down one of the halls. This same event happened a few days later in front of a smaller group.
A paranormal investigator who visited the site numerous times claimed that he used EVP devices to get responses from ghosts. He also claims that he asked the names of people in the portraits and the mysterious voice was able to correctly identify every painting.Dailyrecord – Five terrifying stories behind Scotland’s most haunted castles
Fancy finding out for yourself? See our section on Castle menzies Ghost Tours.
Does Castle Menzies Have a Cafe?
Yes – they have a great cafe which serves hot and cold drinks as well as delicious cakes from the local bakery in Aberfeldy.
The Menzies Clan
The Menzies clan is believed to have been established in Perthshire by the 12th century and had several strongholds in the area before the construction of Castle Menzies, such as Comrie Castle, Garth Castle, and Grandtully Castle. These castles have been either left to ruins or restored as private residences. There were also other castles like on the Isle of Loch Tay and Castle Mains near Ardeonaig which were owned by Menzies clan but less well-known.
Where was Clan Menzies located in Scotland?
The ancestral seat of Clan Menzies in Scotland is Castle menzies, located in the small village of Weem, near Aberfeldy in the Highlands. The first records of the Menzies family’s connections with Pershire are dated 1240 which show Robert Menzies to be an already substantial landover in the area.
Was Menzies clan Jacobites?
During the Jacobite rebellions, the Menzies of Weem, the main branch of the clan, attempted to remain neutral, however, many of the branches of the clan, such as Menzies of Shian and Menzies of Pitfodel, actively participated in the battles on the Jacobite side.
Did Clan Menzies fight at Culloden?
Bonnie Prince Charlie, who took part in the Jacobite Uprising of 1745, stayed at Castle Menzies on 4th and 5th February 1746 during his retreat to Inverness. A room dedicated to the Prince displays items connected to him, including a cast of his death mask. Despite the chief of the Menzies clan not participating in the rebellion, some members of the clan did fight at Culloden. The Castle Menzies was occupied by a Garrison of Redcoats just four days after Prince Charles left.
Planning Your Visit to the Castle Menzies
Where is the Castle Menzies Located?
Castle Menzies is located in the Scottish Highlands of Perthshire in the Scottish Highlands. It sits to the Northwest of Aberfeldy in a tiny village called Weem.
The castle sits in front of the craggy Weem Rock and looks out over the River tay.
The postcode is PH15 2JD
Castle Menzies Opening Times
The castle is open for the season from April 2023. Mon-Sun: 10.30am until 4.30pm, Sun: 2.00pm until 4.30pm. Bank and Public Holidays: open as usual. More information on the official website.
Castle Menzies Tickets and Entrance Prices
There is a cost to enter the castle but all money goes towards the upkeep of the building. Once you’ve paid you can wander freely around at your own leisure. The fee gives you access to practically the whole building. At the time of writing prices are: Adults £9.00, Children 6-16 years £4.50, Children under 6 years free.
There is also the option of a ghost tour in the evening which is priced separately.
Is There Parking at Castle Menzies?
There is free parking just to the left of the castle. Simply drive in the meandering driveway and just past the front of the castle before the gates which lead to the holiday cottages.
Castle Menzies Ghost Tour
When we visited we were told about a ghost tour they run in the evenings which apparently is really popular. With a high level of paranormal activity at the castle, it’s not for the faint hearted. Sadly we didn’t have time to join the tour this time.
Ghost Tours are run by History and Horror Tours. You can find more information and make a booking on their website here.
Group tours appear to run June – Oct on Wednesdays at 7pm & 9pm or you can arrange a private tour.
Is Castle Menzies worth visiting?
The outside of the building is absolutely spectacular to see in the flesh. It was worth the short drive from our base in Loch Tay simply to see the building. The chap who runs things inside was super knowledgeable and friendly and once we’d bought tickets he encouraged us to make ourselves at home and explore the building at our leisure.
I really enjoyed having the freedom to just explore in my own time. You also have access to pretty much the whole building which was pretty awesome. The inside was simple and minimalist which is part of its charm.
I’d definitely recommend visiting and it’s lovely that all fees go to the charitable trust which looks after the building for future generations.
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