According to Historic Scotland, Ballumbie Castle was built in the 14th or 15th century. This is at odds with the date of around 1545, which has been put forward by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Either way, Ballumbie Castle is a structure of great antiquity.
The BBC's Domesday Reloaded web site makes reference to the castle: 'In 1684, Ballumbie Castle was described as "an old, ruinous, demolished house but a very pleasant place." This statement is still true in 1985.' In 1810, the ruin was restored for utilitarian purposes alongside the construction of the now neighbouring Ballumbie House. Some original parts of the castle were retained, however it eventually fell back into disuse.
The following extracts about Ballumbie, and its parish Murroes, are taken from Alex J. Warden FSAScot's (1885) The Land and People: Descriptive and Historical: Vol. V, Angus or Forfarshire, Dundee: Charles Alexander & Co.:
'The small stream Fithie runs through the parish. Part of its course is in a finely-wooded, deep, and picturesque den, having the stately mansion of Duntrune high up above the water on its left bank, and the fine old ruin of Ballumbie Castle, and the handsome modern house in close proximity thereto, on its right bank at the lower end of the den. Good, trimly-kept walks have been made through the den on the Ballumbie side. The foliage of the trees shut out the sunshine, and the cool shade, gentle murmuring of the water, and the song of the birds make a walk through the den very enjoyable.'
'The ruins of Ballumbie Castle stand on an eminence on the right bank of the Fithie, a small stream which rises on the southern slopes of the Sidlaws, and falls into the Dighty at Ballunie. For a mile or two in its course it runs through a beautiful and picturesque den within the policies of Ballumbie and Duntrune. The castle occupies a fine position near the lower end of the den. It is mentioned by Monipennie in his Scots Chronicles, 1612, p. 169; also by Ochterlony in the following terms :— “Balumbie, the Earl of Panmure's second brother's designation, ane old, ruinous, demolished house, but is a very pleasant place.” The castle appears to have consisted of a large square building, with lofty circular towers at the angles, and an open court within. The remains consist of the south, east, and part of the north walls, and the circular towers, which are still entire for a height, on the average, of fully 20 feet.
The square has been re-formed by a modern building on the west, and part of the north and south walls, which had been destroyed, and the restored castle is turned to utilitarian purposes. The proprietor has had the old walls, where exposed, carefully cleaned and pointed, but considerable portions of them are richly clad with ivy, which grows luxuriantly, and they are likely to stand for ages, as the fine run lime, with which they had been originally built, binds the whole into a solid mass, from which it is all but impossible to remove a stone.
Ballumbie Castle, when entire, had been a noble building. It has some of the characteristics of Edzell and Dunnottar Castles, and the ruins yet testify to its ancient grandeur. The castle was erected in or about 1545 by the Lovells, the old proprietors of the estate. The walls are loopholed, as was customary and necessary for the protection of its lords at, and for long after it was built. At the junction of the south-eastern tower with the east wall there is a small semicircular projection connected with both tower and wall, which, on being minutely examined, was found to be a conduit running into a drain, which was traced to its outlet into the Fithie, at some distance south-east of the castle. This shows that sanitary matters were not neglected by the builders of the castle.
On the top of the east wall of the castle, the lintel of the Church of Ballumbie has been laid by the present Laird. On it are the initials H.L. and I.S. The Lovell arms and those of another party, perhaps of the family of his wife, are between the initials. Underneath the initials are what appears to be letters in the old English character. Below this stone is another, on which is a crown with the Lovell arms underneath it, below which is the letter L. On the east wall another stone from the church has been built. It is dissected by two horizontal lines, dividing it into three parts.'