I think we are very lucky in Scotland to have so much history on our door step. I can look out of my window and see the the ruins of Arbroath Abbey, allegedly the place where the Declaration of Arbroath was signed by the Scots nobility in 1320 - for those of you don't know about the Declaration, it's one of the most important events in Scottish History and was a plea by the Scots to the Pope John XXII to be recognised as a independent, Sovereign nation and to have King Robert I (The Bruce) confirmed as monarch. I also say allegedly as there has been some suggestion that the Declaration may not have actually been signed in Arbroath, but we'll not dwell on that.
In centre of picture the ruins of Arbroath Abbey founded in 1178 as viewed from Kingsleypark Manor
Anyway, while down, in Dumfries and Galloway for our break, we had the opportunity to visit a couple of castles, close to where we were staying, which we had regularly driven past in all the years that we have been travelling to that area but had never actually stopped to visit.
An imposing Tower House ruin, built by the McCulloch family in the late 15th and early 16th Centuries, who from all accounts were a thoroughly nasty lot. A very powerful family in the area, one of the early lairds of the Castle, Sir Alexander McCulloch was appointed Keeper of Linlithgow Palace by James IV and died with James at Flodden in 1513 (cue much wailing and lamentation this side of the Border at the mention of that Battle). The McCullochs launched several raids on the Isle of Man and were also supporters of Mary, Queen of Scots. Their constant feuding, however, eventually brought a fall from grace and with the death of Godfrey McCulloch, one of the last to be executed on "The Maiden" (the Scottish equivalent of the guillotine) in 1697 the Castle was abandoned and although over the years became the property of a number of families was never again occupied and passed in to State care in 1927.
The castle stands on what was a promentary over looking an Estuary of the Solway Firth (now drained and reclaimed land)
Looking South West from the top of the Castle, to what would have been part of the Solway Firth in the days when the Castle was built
Looking East over the Water of Fleet.
6 Storeys high, the walls of Cardoness are 2.5 metres thick and the Tower House can only be accessed by one doorway in the South Wall (complete with "murder hole"). A drawing from 1565 shows the Castle having a barmkin (defensive outer wall) but no trace of this remains. Gunpowder was starting to make it's mark on warfare at the time so the Castle is one of the earliest examples to provide for guns in its construction.
An "Inverted Key-Hole" gun-hole
A few miles to the West lies the Carsluith Castle.
Carsluith is a much smaller affair than Cardoness, a reflection of the fact that the families who owned Carsluith were not as wealthy or prominent as the McCullochs of Cardoness. Built in the 15th Century by the Cairns family, the Castle then passed into the hands of the Brouns as a dowry gift and remained in their control until 1748, when eventually it too was abandoned, eventually coming into State Care in 1913.
4 Storeys high, as with Cardoness, access is obtained only by one small door on the North East side. Originally built as an oblong Tower House, the stair tower was added later. A balcony used to protrude from the north wall (the holes of the supporting beams can be seen on the wall face). It has impressive views out over the Solway Firth
There are several other castles in the area which we have yet to visit, the most well known of these probably being Threave Castle near the town of Castle Douglas and Maclellan's Castle in Kirkcudbright.
I shouldn't let this section of the post pass by without some pictures of St. Andrews Castle which we had visited the week before
A view of St Andrews Castle taken from the top of St Rule's Tower in the grounds of St Andrews Cathedral (also in ruins)
St Andrews Castle is one of the most important buildings in Scottish History, with construction starting in the late 12th Century and was the ecclesiastical centre for Scotlands Bishops for centuries up until the Reformation in the 16th Century.
It would take a small book to write about the history of the Castle and the role it played in Scottish affairs but suffice to say with it's impressive main gateway, position overlooking the North Sea, Mine and Visitor Centre it's well worth a visit (as is the Cathedral).
All of the buildings mentioned above are under the care of Historic Scotland and if you live in Scotland and are interested in the preservation and protection of Historic buildings and monuments then you should seriously consider becoming a Member. Access to all of the above buildings is free to Members
And so now to the moment you have all been patiently waiting for, the result of the "Shameless Self Publicising Miniatures Give Away" competition from my last post.
You will recall that I was offering up a set of Zouave Command Figures by Perry Miniatures and some Ghouls from Mantic Games. So first out of the draw for the Zouaves as selected randomly by my helpful assistant was
And the winner is Colonel Shofer
And for the Ghouls
The winner is Dan
Congratulations to both - I've emailed them for their contact details and thanks to all who visited and especially those who left comments. Hopefully normal service will resume on the blogging front although, I am finding that the more I blog, the less time I have for painting figures, so I will have to find a balance, or go without sleep......