Scots Roots


Cawdor Castle
May 31, 2018, 10:17 am
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: , , ,

Cawdor Castle 1

Cawdor Castle 2Often linked with Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Cawdor Castle wasn’t actually built until the early 15th century, whereas Macbeth was King of Scotland from 1040 to 1057. Although there were Thanes of Cawdor, Macbeth was never one of them and he didn’t have any connection to this castle.

Cawdor Castle 3

Cawdor Castle 4Located near Nairn on the Moray Firth, Cawdor Castle originally belonged to Clan Cawdor before passing to Clan Campbell in the 16th century.

Cawdor Castle 5

Cawdor Castle 6Today the castle and its gardens and grounds are open to the public. Still a family home, a number of rooms with original furniture, beautiful paintings and tapestries can be viewed.

Cawdor Castle 7

Cawdor Castle 8

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Tantallon Castle
February 28, 2018, 5:02 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: ,

Tantallon Castle 1

Tantallon Castle 2One of my favourite castles, Tantallon is basically just a big wall across a rocky promontory at the top of a cliff. The main curtain wall is around 300 feet long, 49 feet high and 12 feet thick. The other three sides are naturally protected by sea cliffs although there once was a lower protective wall around the cliff edge too.

Tantallon Castle 3

Tantallon Castle 4

Built in the mid-1300s by William Douglas, a nephew of Sir James Douglas (who fought with Robert the Bruce), the castle endured several sieges through its long history. Its owners often clashed with the Crown and the castle was besieged by James IV in the 15th century, James V in the 16th century and was finally abandoned in the 17th century due to the destruction caused by Oliver Cromwell’s army.

Tantallon Castle 5

The castle can be found 2 miles east of North Berwick in East Lothian, overlooking the Bass Rock and the Firth of Forth. It is currently looked after by Historic Environment Scotland.

Tantallon Castle 6

Tantallon Castle 7



Preston Mill, East Lothian

Preston Mill 1Although there has been a mill on this site since the 16th century, the current Preston Mill was built in the 18th century. It ceased production in 1959 but the machinery is still in working order.

Preston Mill 2This is a meal mill and produced oatmeal. The oats were dried in the kiln – the oddly shaped conical building – before entering the milling process.

Preston Mill 3The mill is currently owned by the National Trust for Scotland and, if you take a guided tour, you can see the machinery in action.

Preston Mill 4Followers of Outlander may recognise it as the mill on Jamie’s family estate where he was nearly captured by the Redcoats as he swam beneath the mill wheel, trying to repair it.

Preston Mill 5



Annet House Museum, Linlithgow
December 11, 2017, 4:20 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History, West Lothian | Tags: , ,

Annet House 1

Annet House 3The museum is based in a large Georgian town house on Linlithgow High Street with a huge garden to the rear. Annet House itself was built in 1787 for the Bartholomew family.

Linlithgow was the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, so it’s not surprising that she features strongly in the exhibits. There’s also a statue of her out in the garden.

Annet House 5Other exhibits tell the story of the town’s heritage featuring displays on linen, leatherworking, distilling and papermaking amongst others.

Annet House 2The garden at the back, known as the Rigg, would have been used to provide the family’s everyday requirements with areas for flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs for medicine. Today’s garden has been set out much as it would have been in its heyday.

Annet House 4The museum is scheduled to move to larger premises in the newly-refurbished County Buildings in Linlithgow which sadly means the garden will be left behind.

Annet House 6



Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh
November 20, 2017, 3:34 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: ,

Holyrood Abbey 1Holyrood Abbey 2Looking like an extension built on to Holyrood Palace, the Abbey actually predates the Palace by several centuries. Founded by David I in 1128, the Abbey was first home to Augustinian Canons.

Holyrood Abbey 3Holyrood Abbey 4Due to its proximity to Edinburgh Castle, the Abbey was often used by Scottish monarchs as a residence more suited to comfort and privacy. It wasn’t until the 16th century that James IV decided to turn the Abbey chambers into a suitable palace.

Holyrood Abbey 5Holyrood Abbey 6The Abbey was sacked several times by English invasions over the centuries and the Protestant Reformation left much of it in ruins. Part of it was retained to serve as the parish church of Canongate but that came to an end in 1687 when the Catholic James VII and II evicted the Protestant congregation. The Abbey was ransacked a year later when James VII and II was deposed.

It has been a ruin ever since.

Holyrood Abbey 7



Scone Palace
July 27, 2017, 9:30 am
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: ,

Scone Palace 1Scone Palace 2Scone (pronounced Scoon) was an Abbot’s Palace rather than a Royal Palace. The priory at Scone, near Perth, was granted abbey status in the 12th Century and the residence was built for the Abbot at that time.

The early kings of Scotland were crowned here at Moot Hill on the Stone of Scone (often called the Stone of Destiny) until the Stone was carried off by Edward I of England to Westminster Abbey in 1296. He built a Coronation Chair to fit over the Stone and it has been used at the coronations of English and British monarchs through the centuries. The Coronation Chair still sits in Westminster Abbey but the Stone of Destiny is now on view in Edinburgh Castle until it is needed again.

Scone Palace 3

Moot Hill – crowning place of the Kings of Scots. The small chapel was a later addition.

Scone Palace 4

Replica of the Stone of Destiny.

Even after the removal of the Stone of Destiny, the Moot Hill continued to be the crowning place of the Kings of Scots.

Scone Abbey was severely damaged by a mob from nearby Dundee during the Reformation in the 16th Century and now nothing of the abbey can be seen above ground.

Scone Palace 5In 1600 the abbey estates were granted to Sir David Murray and have remained in his family to the present day. Much of the work on the Palace as it can be seen today was commissioned by David William Murray, the 3rd Earl of Mansfield, around 1802.

Scone Palace 6

Scone Palace 7



Almondell
March 24, 2017, 5:58 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History, West Lothian | Tags: ,

Almondell 1Almondell and Calderwood Country Park in West Lothian was once the setting for Almondell House, the country retreat of the Honourable Henry (Harry) Erskine (1746 – 1817), a younger son of the 10th Earl of Buchan. Almondell was then a private estate belonging to the Erskine family and here, in stunning surroundings of woodland and a river valley, Erskine designed and built his mansion in 1786. The building had major flaws in its design and construction however, and was demolished in 1969.

Almondell 2Almondell House had a two-storey centre section flanked by pavilion-roofed wings and stood where today the car park for disabled visitors is situated. This is a short distance from the Visitor Centre which occupies the former coach house and stables. Next to this, part of the walled kitchen garden still stands.

Almondell 3

Old stable block, now a Visitor Centre.

Almondell 4Erskine was an outstanding lawyer and politician with a great social conscience and was known as the “poor man’s advocate”. His illustrious career included two spells as Lord Advocate for Scotland, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and Member of Parliament, first for Fife, and then for Haddington and Dumfries. But an architect Erskine certainly wasn’t.  “The roof would not keep the water out,” said his son, “and the foundations would not let it away.”

Almondell 5Almondell 6All the same, a young relation of Erskine, Henry David Inglis Esq., always looked forward to holidays at Almondell. He wrote in the Edinburgh Literary Journal of the mail coach setting him down (always with his fishing tackle) at Almondell gate, about three quarters of a mile from the house, and “the beauty of that secluded domain.” And, best of all, a melon from the garden’s melon-bed.

To get to the house from the south, Henry Erskine commissioned Alexander Nasmyth, the Scottish painter, architect and landscape designer, to build a bridge over the river Almond. Parts of the bridge collapsed into the river in 1973 but it was restored in 1997.

Almondell 7

Nasmyth Bridge

The house and estate remained in the family until the 1950’s. A fire caused extensive damage to the building in the 1960’s which hastened its end.

In 1971, the estate was officially designated as West Lothian’s first country park.

Almondell 8Copyright © Yvonne MacMillan and Scots Roots 2017




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