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Trip to Mains Castle, East Kilbride, Scotland

Friday, January 08, 2010

In Glasgow, like the rest of the country, we remain gripped in a vicious cold spell. This morning I was somewhat despondent as the area was covered by freezing fog, conditions obviously not conducive to travelling and photos. However, I hung on till the afternoon by which time the outdoors was transformed into sunny skies, albeit with temperature still below zero.

After lunch I ventured out to photograph Mains Castle at East Kilbride in the West of Scotland. This building is actually located on the edge of a local heritage park incorporating an artificial 16 acre loch (lake) which is home to usual array of waterfowl (swans, ducks, etc.). About 95 pct of the water surface is frozen over leaving just a tiny area of fresh water for the birds which are obviously suffering from the cold spell but I did notice a kind couple providing some relief with a loaf of bread.

Here are a couple of images of Mains Castle which dates from the 15th century and is actually a private home following extensive restoration. The castle features five floors, a great hall, minstrels gallery, a vault and ramparts on top. Originally connected with the powerful Comyn family it is rumoured that Mary Queen of Scots may have spent a night there. Looks very picturesque against background of blue sky and snow covered landscape.



Here are some kind folks feeding the birds with castle in the background.

This video shows the frozen loch (lake) and castle. Evidently, some brave souls have walked across the ice!

video

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Historic Crookston Castle, Glasgow, Scotland

Saturday, December 26, 2009

This morning, Boxing Day, the temperature in Glasgow, Scotland rose to around zero but this relief was offset by a snow storm. I usually go out on my bike to get images but this morning I elected for the soft option and went off in the car to photograph historic Crookston Castle, which is the second oldest building in Glasgow. The wintry conditions certainly served to present the building in a different light!

The site may have been used as an Iron Age fort ( about 2000 years ago) but the current fortification probably dates from the late 12th century when Robert de Croc built the first recorded castle on the site. In 1330 the estate came into possession of the Stewarts of Darnley who undertook various improvements and embellishments. Following a siege in 1544 the castle was abandoned in the late 16th century.

Crookston Castle is under the care of Historic Scotland and is usually open to the public (but not today!). The castle stonework is noted to be exceptional quality and must have been the responsibility of a master mason.







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Castle Campbell, Scotland

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This evening, I am posting some information on a delightful small, historic Scottish castle located high in the Ochil Hills, near to Stirling, Scotland.

This castle offers the visitor a fascinating blend of Clan Campbell history, superb high elevation location, multiple photo opportunities down Dollar Glen and an insight into castle evolution and architecture.

Castle Campbell is of the 'Tower House' variety and characteristic of the late 15th century. It is of a simple oblong plan with massively thick walls pierced by a few windows and rising to a slightly overhanging parapet 18m above the ground. There are four main floors each with a single room, and a garret in the roof space. The ground, first and top floors are covered by stone barrel vaults.

It is great fun to explore this castle, climbing up the various levels and availing of the stunning views from top of the tower.

In addition to the Tower House, there is the part ruined Hall and Chamber Range, the East Range, the Gardens and 'John Knox's Pulpit. The gardens are well cared for by the resident caretaker.

It is possible the castle's origins date back to the 12th century but its existence was first recorded in 1466 when held by the Stewarts of Innermeath and Lorne. The Tower House may date from the mid 1400s. The castle passed to Colin Campbell, Earl of Argyll in the late 15th century. In 1645 the Royalist leader, James Graham severely damaged the castle. In 1654 the castle was again attacked this time by General Monk. In 1715 the castle was briefly garrisoned but abandoned thereafter. The property was transferred to Historic Scotland in 1945 while Dollar Glen became the responsibilty of the National Trust for Scotland.

When in the area I usually include Castle Campbell in my tour schedule. Access is via very narrow road and great care is required in winter.

I will post images later

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Balmoral Castle, Scotland

Sunday, November 22, 2009


This afternoon, I have decided to focus on Balmoral Castle which is located in the Highlands of Scotland, close to the banks of the River Dee and near to the village of Braemar.

In course of my private, guided tours of Scotland, I visit Balmoral a few times each year. On balance this is a worthwhile experience.

The castle is owned in a private capacity by the British Royal family. The grounds and one room of the Castle (the Ballroom) are open to the public during the summer months. Obviously, most visitors are motivated by the Royal connection but behind that a visit to the Castle is a pleasant enough experience (provided the weather is clement) with grounds and gardens to explore and admire. There is a magnificent avenue of trees, under half a mile in length, after the main entrance gates. Many of these trees were probably planted at the time of Prince Albert in the 19th century. Species include Noble Silver Fir and Grand Silver Fir.

Queen Victoria was inspired to purchase the property in 1848 and wrote to her uncle Leopold "... the scenery all around is the finest almost I have seen anywhere...we are certainly in the finest part of the Highlands and quite in the heart of them, and the soil and climate are the driest I almost saw anywhere. You can walk for ever...and then the wilderness, the solitariness of everything is so delightful, so refreshing, the people are so good and so simple..." The property has been in Royal ownership ever since.

Video no 1 below shows the sunken rose garden which, like the other gardens, is designed to be in flower when the Royal Family are in residence. There is a path which leads down to the River Dee and a beautiful riverside walk.

At the Castle there are also rest rooms, refreshment facilities and a shop. A visit will typically last about two hours.

Video no 2 below shows being led across the front of the castle.



video video

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Dunstaffnage Castle, Scotland

Saturday, October 31, 2009

This evening, I am presenting video clips and information on Dunstaffnage Castle which is located north of Oban at the mouth of Loch Etive. It is built on a rocky mass of Old Conglomerate. The castle has been a lordly residence for almost 600 years and was abandoned relatively recently, in 1810.

It is believed that a fortress has been on the site for over 1500 years with the present building dating from 1225 AD when it was commissioned by the Macdougalls, Lords of Lorn.

The tall, 13th century curtain wall is provisioned with a relatively modest number of arrow slits. The gatehouse has a harled or roughcast exterior (for protection from the elements). This building dates from the 15th and 16th centuries.

In 1470 the Campbells of Argyll took the Lordship of Dunstaffnage and Lorn which proved a critical move in the ascendancy of the Campbells.

The Captainship of Dunstaffnage Castle requires that the present Campbell Captain spends at least one night each year in the Gatehouse in recognition of historic rights.

Overall, this is an impressive and austere building in a pleasant location and affording excellent views over the local scenery.

This short video clip shows the castle exterior whilst the video below covers the interior and local surrounds.


video

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Hermitage Castle, Scotland

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


This evening, I am focusing on Hermitage Castle, a massive harsh and austere building set in the remote, rolling hills of the Scottish Borders.

The castle played a central role in the Anglo-Scottish wars. It was built by the de Soulis family in 1242 but was lost to the family in 1320. It subsequently came under English control and ultimately the Hepburns in the 15th century. Mary Queen of Scots visited an injured James Hepburn at the Castle in 1566 via a 50 mile ride on horseback which triggered a chill which in turn nearly killed her.

The Castle became obsolete in the 17th century and abandoned.

This awesome and powerful building is deserving of a visit.


video

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Inverlochy Castle, Fort William Scotland.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Today, I am posting a video clip of Inverlochy Castle, Fort William, Scotland. This a very well preserved 13th century castle associated with the Comyn family who at one time controlled vast tracts of Scotland. This castle ranks as one of Scotland's earliest stone castle and is designed, is in the form of a square courtyard with round towers at the corners.
Well worth a visit.
video

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Castle Sween, Knapdale, Scotland

Friday, May 22, 2009

This evening, I am posting a video clip taken during today's short, 'Macmillan' themed ancestry tour.

We visited Castle Sween in Knapdale which is a very early castle, possibly dating from the 11th century. Has been held by both MacDonalds and Campbells but was destroyed by MacColla and his band of mercenaries in 1644 and has remained a ruin ever since.

Great location above Loch Sween and the Sound of Jura.


video

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Mains Castle East Kilbride Scotland

Sunday, March 08, 2009

This morning I visited the James Hamilton Heritage Park in Stewartfield, East Kilbride, Lanarkshire.

Here is locted Mains Castle which dates from AD 1450. Feaures of this Grade 'A' listed Tower House are:

  • Three stories
  • > 3 metre thick walls
  • Incorporates a Great Hall, Spiral Staircase and Minstrels Gallery.
  • Located about 1 mile from East Kilbride.
  • Restored from a ruin in 1976 and now privately owned.
Images were taken in poor light conditions (during a snow storm).




video

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Bothwell Castle West of Scotland

Friday, February 27, 2009

This evening, I am posting some images taken during my visit to Bothwell Castle, near Glasgow.

This is a substantial and very impressive sandstone built ruin which sits on a bend in the River Clyde.

The Castle dates back to the 1270s when construction was undertaken by Walter of Moray who based his design on the great chateau of Corcy in France. The castle then experienced a very chequered ownership/control history, viz:

  • Captured by the English 1296.
  • Recaptured by the Scots 1298
  • Re-taken by the English 1301
  • Partly demolished by the Scots 1314.
  • Partly re-built by Edward III 1336
  • Besieged and dismantled 1337 by Sir Andrew de Moray.
  • Restored by the Douglases in 1381
  • Abandoned by 18th century and now in care of Historic Scotland.



video video

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Crookston Castle Glasgow Scotland

Thursday, January 29, 2009

This morning, I visited Crookston Castle located near the city of Glasgow and which qualifies as the second oldest building in Glasgow, dating to the 15th century. Originally, the site was first occupied by a, mainly wooden, castle built by Robert de Croc in the late 12th century. Subsequently, the Stewarts of Darnley built a massive stone tower in the 15th century to replace the earlier timber built castle. The stonework is of very high standard.The castle was attacked and partially destroyed by James IV in 1489 and then subject to a siege in 1544 .Later in the 16th century it was finally abandoned.

The castle is located off Brockburn Road and is deserving of a visit.


video video

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Tour Dirleton Castle and Gardens Scotland

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

This evening, I am presenting images taken at a recent visit to Dirleton Castle, E Lothian, Scotland.

There are really two attraction here, first the magnificent ruined castle which dates back to the 12th century and secondly, the colourful gardens.

Here is a colourful display of a formal garden.



Here are the vaults of the castle.

Here is the entrance to the ruined castle which has experienced a chequered history since the 12th century when the Anglo-Norman de Vaux family acquired the Barony of Dirleton and built the original stone castle.Very briefly, the castle was:

  • Successfully besieged in 1298 and held by the English until 1311.
  • Occupied by the army of Robert the Bruce.
  • Passed to the Halyburton family in the mid 14th century.
  • Rebuilt from 1515 by the Ruthven family.
  • occupied and ruined by Cromwell's troops in 1650.

Here is the dovecot. Pigeons were an important source of food in medieval times.

Here is the world's longest herbaceous border

Direlton is one of the oldest surviuving castles in Scotland and has the added attraction of being situated close to the pretty village of Dirleton.

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Tour Alnwick Castle

Saturday, August 23, 2008

This evening I am presenting images from a recent visit to Alnwick Castle in Northumberland.

Alnwick was built in the 1300s and has been home of the Percy family for almost 700 years.

This home of the Duke of Northumberland holds many treasures including:

  • China
  • Furniture
  • Paintings including Old Masters such Canaletto and Titian.
The castle is popular with film makers and has been featured in Harry Potter films.






The castle is a major visitor attraction and very popular with Harry Potter fans.

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Doune Castle Monty Python Tour

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

This afternoon I am posting some images taken during a recent visit to Doune Castle, which is a well preserved and authentic medieval castle which featured in the film 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'.

The castle is protected by the River Teith on the west and by the Ardoch Burn on the east.

The castle sits on the site of an earlier earthwork fortification. It was built by Robert Stewart and subsequently became a hunting lodge for the Stewart Court. Doune has experienced many changes and activity including:

  • A Royal fortress in the 15th century
  • A Hunting Lodge
  • A Dower house for three Stewart queens.
  • Stayed loyal to Mary Queen of Scots until 1570.
  • Under control of Earls of Moray since 1590.
  • Occupied by garrisons of redcoats in 1689 and 1715.
  • Captured by Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745.
  • A prison for soldiers captured at the Battle of Falkirk in 1746.
  • Restoration in 1883.






This castle is close to Stirling and worth a visit.

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Loch Ness Castle Urquhart Tour

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Today I was on the last leg of a Scotland tour which included a visit to the famous Castle Urquhart on Loch Ness. The visit coincided with a heavy snow storm but that did not upset enjoyment of the visit.

There was fortifications at the Urquhart site back in prehistory but the present ruins date from around AD 1275 under the powerful Comyns.Subsequently the castle experienced a chequered history including:

  • Garrisoning by the English in 1296
  • Attack by Robert the Bruce in 1306
  • Embellishment and re-build by the Stewarts by 1400
  • Capture by the MacDonalds in 1452
  • Plundering by clansmen in 1544-45
  • Slighting of the defences afetr a Jacobite uprising in 1689.




This was just one leg of a great 3 day tour.

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Cawdor Castle Tour

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

This evening I am presenting some images of Cawdor Castle, which is located near Inverness. The castle has a tenuous connection with Shakespeare's Macbeth (Thane of Cawdor).

This is a classic medieval castle with tower and drawbridge. It is open to the public where visitors can view the sitting room, dungeon, freshwater well and kitchens. Contents include paintings, tapestries, furniture and books.

The gardens are of great interest also, both formal and riverside.There is also a maze.

Here is the Golf Club 'Club House'.

Avenue in the gardens
Gardens and maze
View of the castle
View of the formal gardens

Overall, worth a visit if in the area.The gardens and quite fascinating.

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Dundonald Castle Tour

Friday, February 08, 2008

This evening I am presenting some images of Dundonald Castle in Ayrshire, which has connections with the Cochrane family.

There is evidence of defence/occupation on this site dating back into prehistory.

The present castle originated as a fortified Tower House built for King Robert II in 1371 and was used as a residence by the Stewart kings through to about 1520. Robert II died at Dundonald in
1390.

The remains of the castle are accessed by a steep climb which is worth the effort as the view can be spectacular.

A visit to this castle fits in nicely with a tour from Glasgow taking in Burns Cottage and Culzean Castle.



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Linlithgow Palace Tour

Thursday, February 07, 2008

This evening I am presenting some images of Linlithgow Palace. This is accessible from Edinburgh.

The Palace is now a romantic ruin, having been destroyed by fire in 1745, possibly due to a cooking fire left by a retreating Jacobite soldier.

The Palace was a favourite of the Stewart monarchs from James I with both James V and Mary, Queen of Scots being born in the Palace.

Features worthy of note are the Great Hall and Chapel (late 15th century). The qaudrangle has a richly carved 16th century fountain.

This attraction is well worth a visit. It benefits from being situated in a park close to the Linlithgow Loch.

Gallery

The fountain

The Great Hall


Outer Gate
There is something for all interests here, photographers, students of architecture, historians and even somewhere for the children to play!

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Drumlanrig Castle Tour

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

This magnificent castle is built of local pink sandstone. It was constructed by the 1st Duke of Queensberry during the period 1679-91 and was superimposed upon the 14th/15th century Douglas stronghold. The architects are believed to have been Robert Mylne or his son-in-law James Smith.

This castle (palace?) houses a celebrated art collection and is set in the huge Queensberry Estate with a focus on wildlife conservation and landscape enhancement.

Visit this castle with Catswhiskerstours in context of a tour of Dumfriesshire and the Borders.

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Culzean Castle Tour

This afternoon I am presenting a few images of Culzean Castle which is located about 60 mins south of Glasgow via a scenic drive along the Ayrshire coast. It is possible to link in a visit to the Castle with a visit to Robert Burns' birthplace.

Culzean Castle is really a grand house. It benefits from a magnificent location on the coast and sits in a huge estate open to the public. So, it is possible to spend the whole day there-weather permitting!!

The castle is an 18th century mansion designed by Robert Adam for the Kennedy family. There is also an interesting garden.

Images below are of the castle and grounds.






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Glamis Castle Tour

Friday, January 25, 2008

Today, I have collated some images of a tour of Glamis Castle. This is relatively close to both Edinburgh and Glasgow and well worth a visit. (Note that Glamis is pronounced Glarms.)

Glamis Castle for more than 600 years been associated with the Royal Family, ever since it was gifted to them by King Robert II in 1372.

The castle is set in delightful grounds with a small herd of photogenic Highland Cattle. Here are a few images.

Cattle sheltering from the sun.

View of gardens
View of Glamis Castle from approach road.

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CASTLE CAMPBELL TOUR SCOTLAND

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Here are some images of Castle Campbell. This dates from the 14th C and was probably built for the Stewart family and subsequently owned by the Campbells of Argyll. The castle was partly destroyed by Royalist forces during the Civil War in 1654 and never re-built. This is an important Tower House and well worth a visit. On a clear day the view is fantastic.




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