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2007 Scotland Photographic Adventure
August 5th - August 13th, 2007
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- Day 1 Sunday August 5th
- Dirleton Castle ruins
- Just a few miles west of North Berwick and about 20 miles east of Edinburgh lies Dirleton Castle, one of the finest preserved ruins in Scotland.
The 13th century architecture is evident from the large round tower.
The second tower has been replaced by a squared off wall, though the tower structure is still visible at the base.
Some of the original arrow slits remain, though most where replaced with more modern windows.
This castle was rebuilt over the years and used during the 14th and 16th centuries.
The waterline has receded and the mote is now dry.
The dovecot has been well preserved and even includes some of the recreated nesting stations.
- Tantallon Castle ruins
- On the other side of North Berwick is Tantallon Castle. Built about 1350 AD, this 14th century castle has seen many battles.
It was the fortress-residence for over three hundred years of one of the most powerful families in Scotland, the Douglas earls of Angus.
The Douglas shield of arms features 3 stars above a heart.
The castle itself is built on a high cliff, completely protecting the back side of the structure.
Renovations are in progress to restore the castles grand entrance.
Many of the inner rooms where filled with rock during the 16th century to help enforce the castle against weapons of that time.
The large courtyard held many wooden structures and where completely protected by the massive castle walls.
Looking like a guard house, the dovecot sits in front of the castle. The castle sat behind 2 sets of walls, one of which is still recognizable today.
Bass Rock, a light house and bird sanctuary can be seen from the courtyard within the castle walls.
- Crichton Castle
- South of Edinburgh in the small town of Crichton is Crichton Castle.
Built in the 14th century, this castle retains very little of its original architecture. Round towers have been replaced by squared off walls.
The few arrow slits that remain have been adapted for use by guns. Large windows and arches are much more predominant.
The approach to this castle is impressive. We where favored with a beautiful foggy evening.
Hunters in the glade below added to the scene, giving us the feeling we where approaching the castle whilst under siege.
This was what you really expected to see and feel when approaching a castle in Scotland.
- Day 2 Monday August 6th
- Edinburgh Castle
- People and more people, Edinburgh Castle is definitely at the top of many visitors list in Scotland.
The land in and around the castle have been inhabited since the 9th century BC.
Unfortunately, little remains of any structures pre dating the 16th century.
Filled with shops and cafes and museums, some say this is the crown jewel of Scotland.
In fact, the crown jewels are housed here and can be seen by the public.
Used more as a military installation in its later years, batteries and canons can be seen from nearly any vantage point.
Any castle structures before the 16th century have been built atop. The shear cliffs of the castle are impressive.
Passing through multiple gates and fortress walls is required to reach to Crown Square where the jewels, a grand courtyard and hall can be found.
- Craigmillar Castle
- Within the southeast Edinburgh metro area we found Craigmillar Castle. This is an extremely well preserved 14th century castle.
The palace building as well as the inner castle wall are in very good shape. Going through the main entrance, you can retrace the steps of
lords and ladies as the ascended the large spiral staircase into the grand hall. Mary I Queen of Scotland stayed here after the birth of her son.
- Stirling Castle
- This 14th century castle sits majestically above the town of Stirling.
Originally built with four 5 story towers, now reduced to two 3 story towers. Indications of the 2 removed towers remain.
This castle was taken over by the military. Powder magazines can be found in the lower courtyard.
The shear cliffs and numerous batteries make the castle virtually impenetrable.
The grand palace is being restored. The military used the space as a hospital. Upon completion, period furnishings will be returned.
- Day 3 Tuesday August 7th
- Loch Leven Castle
- Loch Leven is by far one of the best castles on the trip.
Aside from the history of this 14th century castle, Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in the north tower for nearly a year, before escaping in 1568.
The castle is located on an island in Loch Leven.
Arriving by boat, the castle rises before you.
Originally, the castle wall bordered the island on all sides.
The water has receded since then, but you can still make out the foundation of the original wall.
Much of the wall close to the palace remains.
Loch Leven has a second story entrance and was not accessible from the ground floor (as it is today).
The entrance was built this way so residents would not be trapped in the event of a flood.
Food was brought into the castle on the second floor.
A trap door leads into the cellar that was accessed via a ladder.
The main palace is typical of a land owner's castle seen scattered all over Ireland.
The inner grounds contained a kitchen and several smaller stone buildings that served as housing.
The ruins of these are still clearly visible. The castle wall was massive with a walk all the way around.
The tower that was used to imprison Mary Queen of Scots is very well preserved.
Though the quarters where large, they would not be considered
opulent by today's standards.
- Glenbuchat Castle
- This 16th century z-plan tower house is really remarkable. Unigue in its design, this castle is
well preserved. One of the less visited castles, walking around Glenbuchat is like taking a step
back in time. The lords chambers, grand staircase, dinning hall, kitchen and most all parts of the
castle are easily recognizable. This was our favorite castle on the trip. The setting on the hill above the Don
river is perfect. From the castle, you can look down into the valley and see all the Lords land
spread out before you.
- Day 4 Wednesday August 8th
- Kildrummy Castle
- Dating from the early 13th century, the castle is believed to have been constructed during the
lordships of Uilleam and Domhnall, Earls of Mar.
It has been besieged a number of times in its history.
Kildrummy Castle is "shield-shaped" in plan with a number of independent towers.
The flat side of the castle overlooks a steep ravine;
and on the opposite side of the castle the walls come to a point,
which was once defended by a massive twin-towered gatehouse.
Walking around the castle grounds, you can really get a good feel for what is must have been like
in the 13th century. The large rooms within the northern towers where the lord resided. The entry into
the palace and the chaple. On the other side of the courtyard, the kitchen, guard towers and guards quarters.
The large courtyard had enough room for many tenant houses. Around the castle are the remains of a very
large motte. Today the towers are reduced to ruins, but in their day, they would have been 3 or 4
stories tall. Unique to 13th century and older castles, the staircases where built into the tower wall,
unlike the spiral staircase in later castles. A 13th centry tower is built as a cylinder within a cylinder,
the staircase is between the 2 cylinders.
- Huntly Castle
- Originally built in the 12th century, this castle has been completely rebuilt 3 times. Nothing remains of the
original construction with the exception of the castle mound and motte. The 16th century castle includes several
buildings and the palace. The architectural details of the castle are very well preserved. Carved rock adorns
several mantles, exterior window casings and doorways.
- Balvenie Castle
- This 13th century castle located in Dufftown is typical of castles of this era. It's large inner
courtyard would have been filled with tenant housing, protected from the outside world.
- Urquhart Castle
- On the banks of Loch Ness lies the ruins of Urquhart Castle, once one of the largest castles in Scotland.
Most of the buildings date from the 17th century. The castle is now but a set of ruins.
Bombed in 1692 to prevent Jacobit revolutionaries from using it as a stronghold.
Believe in the Loch Ness Monster? From the castle you can see one of the deeper portions of the loch. A great
place to look for the imaginary creature. Believing as a child, it was great to see the place where "Nessie" lives.
If you want to keep your belief, don't go to any of the various presentations regarding the loch and the mythical beast.
- Day 5 Thursday August 9th
- Eilean Donan Castle
- On to the newest castle on the tour. Eilean Donan was completed in the 1932 from the ruins of a once great 13th
century castle. Very little of the 13th century construction is used in the 1930s version. Only minor portions of
The castle was restored in the years between 1919 and 1932 by Lt. Col. John MacRae-Gilstrap.
The restoration included the construction of an arched bridge to give easier access to the castle.
In 1983 The Conchra Charitable Trust was formed by the MacRae family to care for the Castle.
Eilean Donan is the home of the Clan MacRae. In 2001, the island had a population of just one person.
It is now one of the most photographed monuments in Scotland and a popular venue for weddings and film locations.
It has appeared in such films as Highlander (1985), Loch Ness (1995) and The World is not Enough (1999),
and on the cover of Secret Garden's 2000 album Dreamcatcher.
The castle is well furnished with a mix of modern and period pieces. The kitchen is filled with characters depicting the
preparation for a large dinner party. No photographs where allowed inside the palace.
- Dunvegan Castle Gardens
- Dunvegan Castle has been in use for over 800 years. The castle has been adapted to modern use. The grounds around the
castle boast an amazing garden. The pictures in this section highlight the garden. Most where taken by my daughter.
I think you will agree, they are quite spectacular.
- Duntulm Castle
- Duntulm Castle was built in the 14th and 15th centuries. The castle was abandoned in the early 1730s.
According to one local legend, the castle was abandoned after the infant son of the chieftain who dwelt there at the time,
in the charge of a nursemaid, fell from a window and was dashed on the rocks below. As a punishment,
the nursemaid was set adrift on the North Atlantic in a small boat.
The ruins of the castle are now in very poor condition.
- Day 6 Friday August 10th
- Inverlochy Castle
- Inverlochy Castle was built around 1280 but only occupied until 1308. For such a great fortress, the castle has
seen little use. This is an impressive 13th century castle. The high walls were designed to make attack
and scaling difficult. The slope lessened the impact of battering ram and deterred mining. The towers have the
13th century cylinder in cylinder construction with the staircase going around the entire circumference of the tower.
Definitely my favorite design.
- Day 7 Saturday August 11th
- Dunstaffnage Castle
- Dunstaffnage Castle is a grand 13th century castle. Unfortunately, it was our first rainy day,
so we did not get to take to many pictures. The castle is occupied 1 day a year by one of the Captain
of Dunstaffnage's men. In this way, the Captain can continue to maintain the castle as a private
residence. Mostly ruins, the castle has undergone some restoration.
- Kilchurn Castle
- Kilchurn Castle is a ruined 14th century structure on the northeastern end of Loch Awe. This castle
is undergoing major renovations and is not easily accessible. After some searching, we where able to find a
foot path to the castle. The tour access is via boat and is currently not in operation.
This castle was a great find. few people where about and we where able to roam around reinventing what
might have been.
- Day 8 Sunday August 12th
- Dumbarton Castle
- Dumbarton Castle encompasses a volcanic rock measuring some 250ft in height. The castle was
built over many centuries. Inhabitants to the castle grounds date back to the 11th century, when
grass covered huts dotted the valley between the two rock formations. Today the
Governors house sits in the lower portion of the grounds with structures including a prison, several
batteries and magazine sitting on top of the larger peak. The castle was most recently used as a defensive
position for the military. With its high cliffs and defensive wall surrounding it, the castle grounds
would have been very difficult to conquer.