|Address:||Elcho Castle Rhynd, Perth, PH2 8QQ. Tel:01738 639998|
|Operated by:||Historic Environment Scotland (formerly Historic Scotland)|
|Opening Hours:||1 April - 30 September: Mon - Sun 9:30 - 17:30, (last entry 17:00) |
1 October - 31 March: Closed
|Admission:||Adult: £6, Concession: £4.80, Children 5 - 15: £3.60, Under 5's Free|
|Parking:||There is a car park beside the castle that is accessed via a country lane that passes through a farmyard|
|Languages:||Information boards in English.|
|Accessibility:||The castle has uneven floors, spiral staircases and uneven steps. It is not suitable for wheelchair users.|
|Toilets:||Yes, but not suitable for those with mobility issues.|
|Shop:||Yes, the ticket office has a small gift shop selling a few items and toys like plastic swords / knights' helmets.|
|Cafe/Restaurant:||The ticket office sells ice creams and has a coffee vending machine. There are picnic tables outside in the castle gardens.|
Elcho Castle is one of Scotland's best preserved Tower houses from the 1500's, but it tends to be overlooked by most tourists as it is located on a dead end road in a rural corner of Perthshire that is bypassed by all the main roads. It is only a 15 minute drive from the centre of Perth and, although it was never the site of any significant historical events, it is entertaining to visit as there are lots of rooms, corridors, spiral staircases, nooks and crannies to be explored. Possibly the best castle in Scotland for kids to play hide and seek.
Although the castle looks quite forbiding and does have defensive features such as gun loops, it was primarily built to serve the role of a comfortable country retreat for Wemyss family. It is easy to appreciate how life at Elcho castle would have been relatively luxurious and enjoyable for its occupants. For a start the reception hall of the castle is dominated by an uncommonly wide staircase that climbs through a sweeping bend to arrive at the Great Hall on the first floor. It is on this level that you also find the bed chamber and private quarters of the Lord of the Castle. The upper floors of the castle were for other family members and are generously proportioned by 16th century standards. Other refinements include a south facing turret room that would have served as a sitting room for the "lady of the house" and there are several charming little rooms (maybe intended as studies) in the roof space of the castle. These quirky little rooms are connected by roof top walkways which provide great views over the Perthshire countryside.
Elcho Castle appears to have been built with the intention of impressing visitors and there is a separate "Guest wing" of the castle where all the rooms have their own latrines. Not many 16th century castles could make that claim. We counted 8 latrines, but there may have been more as the castle has such a labyrinth of corridors and stairways (3 separate staircases) that you can easily become confused about where you've been and where you haven't. Some of the floor levels in the guest wing have gone, but a few of the supporting joists are still in place so you can visualise how the interior would have been partitioned. Despite these missing floors, the castle really is a very complete structure and was re-roofed in the 1830's by descendants of the original Wemyss family that built it.
Unfortunately, the original walled courtyard and ornamental gardens have disappeared, but an orchard has been replanted in the same location that the original castle orchard would have sited.
If you are passing through Perth and have an hour or two to spare, we'd recommend that you consider a visit to Elcho Castle. Whilst it hasn't played a significant role in any events that shaped Scottish history, it is an interesting insight into how a wealthy Scottish family would have lived in the 16th / 17th century. But best of all, it's a great castle for a game of hide and seek.