Scots Roots


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.

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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.

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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



House of the Binns, West Lothian
February 24, 2017, 11:40 am
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History, West Lothian | Tags: ,

House of the Binns 1The Binns estate, near Linlithgow, is situated on two hills from which it derives its name and the current House of the Binns was built by Thomas Dalyell in 1612. Thomas was an Edinburgh butter merchant who made his fortune as Deputy Master of the Rolls in the court of King James VI and I in London.

House of the Binns 2Thomas’s son, General Tam Dalyell, was a famous Royalist commander in the Civil War who later became the first colonel of the Royal Regiment of Scots Dragoons, also known as the Royal Scots Greys.

The remains of the steading where the General billeted his troops and the Sergeant’s Pond where they watered the horses can still be seen if walking round the grounds.

House of the Binns 3

The Steading

Extensions were made to the house in the 18th and 19th centuries by Sir Robert Dalyell and his son James.

The tower on the hill, a folly built by Sir James Dalyell in 1826 apparently as the result of a wager, commands a superb panoramic view of the Firth of Forth to the North and the Pentland Hills to the South.

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The Tower

The house has remained the home of the Dalyell family to the present day, although it was gifted to the National Trust for Scotland in 1944 provided that subsequent generations of the family would retain the right to live there.

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House of the Binns 6



St Michael’s Church, Linlithgow
October 16, 2016, 11:29 am
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History, West Lothian | Tags: , ,

St Michael's Church, Linlithgow 1Standing on a hill next to the old Royal palace at Linlithgow, St Michael’s church can be seen from miles away in all directions – thanks, in particular, to its distinctive crown-topped tower.

St Michael's Church, Linlithgow 2Built in the 12th century, the church has seen many changes. It was used as a garrison storehouse by King Edward I of England in the years prior to the Battle of Bannockburn. It was badly damaged by a great fire in 1424 and took more than a hundred years to rebuild. Much of the money for its rebuilding came from the Stewart monarchs who liked to worship there.

St Michael's Church, Linlithgow 3Mary, Queen of Scots, was born at Linlithgow Palace in 1542 and was baptised at St Michael’s.

In 1646, Oliver Cromwell’s roundhead troops arrived in Linlithgow and men and horses were billeted in the church.

St Michael's Church, Linlithgow 4Further repair work was needed in the early 1800s when it was realised that some of the ceiling beams were rotten. In 1821 the old stone crown which sat on top of the tower had to be removed because it was too heavy. This crown was eventually replaced in 1964 with a 58 feet tall crown made of light anodised aluminium.

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St Michael's Church, Linlithgow 6



Cairnpapple Hill
July 9, 2016, 10:47 am
Filed under: Scottish History, West Lothian | Tags: ,

Cairnpapple 1Cairnpapple Hill, to the north of Bathgate in West Lothian, is one of the most important prehistoric sites on mainland Scotland. The site was excavated in the 1940s by Professor Piggott of the University of Edinburgh. He discovered that the site had been in use from around 5,500 years ago.

Cairnpapple 2Traces of six hearths from that period were discovered but these were later covered by a henge monument consisting of a large oval bank surrounded by a ditch enclosing a ring of 24 wooden posts.

The wood has long since rotted away but the post holes can still be seen.

Cairnpapple 3The henge fell out of use around 4,000 years ago but the area continued to be used as a burial site.

Cairnpapple 4Several burial cists have been found but these were eventually covered by a large burial cairn measuring 30 metres in diameter. The 1940s excavation has now been partly covered by a concrete dome replicating one of the earlier cairns. Visitors can enter the cairn by means of a stepladder to see reconstructions of two of the early graves.

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Jupiter Artland
June 27, 2016, 9:55 am
Filed under: Photographs, West Lothian | Tags:
Jupiter Artland 1

CELLS OF LIFE – Charles Jencks

Jupiter Artland 2Taking it’s inspiration from Ian Hamilton Findlay’s ‘Little Sparta’, Jupiter Artland is a collection of artworks by internationally renowned artists spread across the grounds of Bonnington House near Wilkieston in West Lothian.

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FROM EAR TO HERE V.20 – Celeste Boursier – Mougenot

 

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TEMPLE OF APOLLO – Ian Hamilton Finlay

The formal gardens, meadows and woodland around the Jacobean house have been adapted to create a unique sculpture park across the 100 acre estate.

The owners, art collectors Robert and Nicky Wilson, have spent the years since buying the house and grounds in 1999 commissioning art works inspired by the landscape.

Any money raised from events, exhibitions etc is put towards an education programme so that children in Scotland can benefit from the inspiring environment at Jupiter Artland.

 

 

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FIRMAMENT – Antony Gormley



Scottish Korean War Memorial
May 13, 2016, 4:34 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History, West Lothian | Tags: ,

Scottish Korean War Memorial 1

Scottish Korean War Memorial 2

Scottish Korean War Memorial 3Witchcraig Wood is a pleasant short walk in the Bathgate Hills in West Lothian. Near the beginning of the walk is the Scottish Korean War Memorial, a landscaped area consisting of two mounds in the Ying and Yang shapes seen on the Korean flag and a central pagoda which contains panels listing the names of the 1113 British servicemen, merchant seamen and war correspondents who died in the Korean War.

A native Scottish tree has been planted for each of the men who died and the two mounds have 110 Korean firs on them – one for every ten dead.

Scottish Korean War Memorial 4The memorial was created by the Lothians and West of Scotland branch of the British Korean Veterans Association in memory of their fallen comrades.

Many of the men who died were young National Service men and most of the dead are buried in Pusan military cemetery in South Korea. The memorial is intended to give their relatives somewhere closer to home to pay their respects.

The Scottish Korean War Memorial opened on 27 June 2000 to mark the 50th anniversary of the start of the war.

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Scottish Korean War Memorial 6



Kirk of Calder
December 11, 2015, 10:53 am
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History, West Lothian | Tags: ,

Kirk of Calder 1Kirk of Calder 2

The Kirk of Calder serves Mid Calder, a ‘conservation village’ in West Lothian, just 12 miles from Edinburgh and 40 miles from Glasgow.

The original part of the present church was built in 1541 and then it was extended in 1863 but it is believed that a church has existed on this site since around 1150.

Kirk of Calder 3The Kirk boasts visits from John Knox, James Paraffin Young, David Livingstone and Frederick Chopin and in its walls you can still see holes made by Covenanters’ musket shots in the 17th century.

It is a Historic Scotland Grade A listed building and well worth a visit.

Kirk of Calder 4




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