Saturday Snapshot

We’ve been away last week – we went here:

Caringorms P1080750the Cairngorms – and there was snow in May.

Cairngorm shop P1080752Lower down the snow fell too but didn’t stick. The photo below is of a beautiful little loch in the Glenmore Forest Park, An Lochan Uaine the ‘green lochan’ (although in my photo it looks blue – it was really green!). ‘Lochan’ is Gaelic for ‘ a small loch, or lake’.

An Lochan Uaine P1080677The green shows up more in this photo:

An Lochan Uaine P1080681

We have many more photos, which no doubt, I’ll be posting and writing about later. Click on the photos to see them enlarged.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy.

Saturday Snapshots

Coldstream Old Marriage House

This is the 18th century Old Marriage House in Coldstream. It was also the Toll House for the bridge, which crosses the River Tweed from Coldstream in Scotland to Cornhill-on-Tweed in England. The Old Marriage House is at the Scottish end of the bridge and is now a private home. But from 1754 until 1856 it was popular (like the Smithy at Gretna Green) for runaway marriages, because during that period under Scottish law couples could get married without parental consent and without giving prior public notice.

In the 19th century 1,446 ‘irregular’ marriages, valid in Scots law were conducted by ‘priests’, whose numbers included local men such as shoemakers and molecatchers. During that period five earls and at least two, maybe three, Lord Chancellors of England were married there.

Coldstream Bridge P1060422This is the Coldstream Bridge, built between 1763-6, designed by John Smeaton. It replaced the old ford across the river.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Scottish History

Ever since we moved to live just south of the border with Scotland I’ve been interested in learning more about its history. My knowledge was limited to the basics and mainly related to the monarchy – Robert the Bruce, Mary Queen of Scots, James VI of Scotland and I of England, the Jacobite Rebellions, and Bonnie Prince Charlie and so on.

Many books have been written on Scottish history and when I saw this little book some years ago I thought it could be a good place to start to find out more:

A Short History of Scotland by Richard Killeen is by its very nature a summary account and a basic introduction. There are 31 short chapters covering the period from Prehistoric Scotland up to the Twentieth Century – all in 69 pages, including coloured illustrations of people and places.

I found the early chapters the most interesting (maybe because it was mainly new information for me) covering the early periods – Iron Age Celts, Roman Scotland and later invaders – Anglo-Saxons, raiders from Dalriada in Ireland (Irish Celts), Picts and Vikings.

Much of the book is the history of the monarchy. Kenneth MacAlpin was the first King of Scotland (9th century) but not of all modern Scotland – he never established himself in the Borders, which was held by the Anglo-Saxon Northumbrians. Northumbria had formerly extended from the Humber right up to the Forth, and it was not until Malcolm II (1005-34) won the battle of Carham in 1018 that the land north of the Tweed became part of his kingdom.

The book traces the history of Scotland through the various battles for power and control – the Norman settlement of the lowlands founding abbeys and cathedrals, the contest for the crown between John Balliol and Robert Bruce (both members of the Norman aristocracy) and the intervention of Edward I of England in choosing John Balliol as king in 1292 and claiming formal overlordship for himself and his successors.

Scottish kings had paid feudal homage to English kings before the 1290s. As far back as 1174, William the Lion had acknowledged himself the formal vassal of Henry II. Such acts did not imply that Scotland was a dependency of England. In the first place, England and Scotland hardly existed in the modern sense. The age of centralised states with uniform laws, secure boundaries with centralised administration – all things we take completely for granted – lay well in the future. (page 28)

Edward’s actions triggered Scottish resistance, with William Wallace winning victory over the English at Stirling Bridge in 1297. Wallace was then defeated within a year at the Battle of Falkirk. Robert the Bruce gained the crown, and in 1314 defeated Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn: ‘the battle which confirmed Scotland as an independent kingdom.’ (page 31)

Moving forward in time, Killeen describes the history of Scotland until the Reformation as ‘a guignol of intrigue, faction and murder mixed with solid achievement.’ The rest of the book includes chapters on the Stewarts, Mary Queen of Scots, the Union of Crowns (1603), the Civil War, Glencoe, the Act of Union (1707), Scottish Enlightenment, the Clearances and the Industrial Revolution.

Reading this little book has spurred me on to read more detailed histories and I’ve started with Neil Oliver’s A History of Scotland. More about that another time.

Saturday Snapshots

My snapshots today are of Inchree Wood and Righ Falls in Glen Righ, on the eastern side of Loch Linnhe, near Glencoe. It was a cool day in September this year when we walked up the woodland trail to see the waterfalls, but the views were still spectacular.

The walk is through woodland with views of Loch Linnhe below:

The waterfall comes into view:

It cascades down the hill side:

The trail continues uphill through broad-leaf and conifer trees:

It’s a good place to see red squirrels:

through the viewing holes:

But we were disappointed not to see one!

See more Saturday Snapshots on Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot: Castle Stalker

I was delighted to find this romantic ruined castle during our holiday on the west coast of Scotland. This is Castle Stalker, a 15th century tower house built by the Stewarts of Appin. It’s on a small island in Loch Linnhe, just north east of Port Appin (the setting for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped, a fictionalised account of the “Appin Murder” of 1752).

It was quite late in the day when we got there and the light was fading, so my photo is rather dark. I’d love to go back and take a trip across the loch to the island and see round the castle. It’s privately owned and there are tours on just 5 weeks of the year. There’s a brief history of the castle on the Castle Stalker website.

Castle Stalker is the location of Castle Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh in the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

 

Saturday Snapshot: Rosslyn Castle

During our recent visit to Scotland we went to Rosslyn Chapel and also to Rosslyn Castle. This was our second visit to the Chapel, but our first to the Castle. (We went to Rosslyn Chapel three years ago – see this post for information on the Chapel and some photos.) On that first visit the Chapel was surrounded with scaffolding and you could go up to the roof. From there you can see the Castle far below the Chapel built on high on a rocky promontory in the Roslin Glen.

The Castle is in Roslin Glen – the nearby village is spelt Roslin, but the Chapel and Castle are spelt Rosslyn – like the earldom. The derivation of the name is from the Celtic words ‘ross‘, a rocky promontory and ‘lynn‘, a waterfall – not as described in The Da Vinci Code as deriving from a longitudinal Rose Line on the north-south meridian that runs through Glastonbury!

This time we decided to go to the Castle after seeing the Chapel. It’s down a little lane between trees and you walk over a bridge to get to the ruins.

It was a dismal rainy day but still the castle ruins stood out – stark and dramatic against the  skyline:

These are the ruins of the original 14th century castle, built in the 1330s for Henry Sinclair, the Earl of Orkney. At that time there was a drawbridge – replaced now by the modern access bridge. Behind the ruined walls you can see what looks like a house:

My photo is dark because by this time it was raining quite heavily. The castle was largely destroyed during the 15th and 16th centuries and was rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries as a fortified house with five floors. The building from this side looks like any other house, but from the other side it is enormous. We didn’t go round to see it, but there are photos on the Landmark Trust website showing its size and the renovated rooms that are available to let as holiday accommodation.

The photo below shows the remains of the west wall:

and here are the remains of the gatehouse:

There were only a few other people walking round the ruins, whereas the Chapel was packed, with people arriving in cars and coaches. In fact inside the Chapel it was so crowed you could hardly walk round for other people. I suppose it’s the popularity of The Da Vinci Code that attracts so many people, but it’s hard to get a proper sense of its history and to see its beauty with so many other people there. There is now a Visitor Centre, where you can buy books and souvenirs and get drinks and sandwiches etc, also very crowded.

I preferred the Castle – so atmospheric.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshots: Stirling Castle

We spent last week in Scotland. Except for Monday the weather was atrocious with torrential rain on most days. But Monday brought blue skies and glorious sunshine, so we took advantage of the good weather and visited Stirling Castle, maintained and managed by Historic Scotland. This is a most spectacular castle standing high on a volcanic rock. It was one of the most favoured homes of Scottish kings and queens from the 12th century, although it is an ancient site.

I have many photos – here is just a small selection:

A statue of King Robert the Bruce stands outside the modern entrance to the castle:

Robert the Bruce statue

In the background is the National Wallace Monument which overlooks the scene of Scotland’s victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297.

Stirling Castle Forework

The Forework (above) was installed by James V around 1500, originally the main entrance, it is now an inner entrance to the castle.

The photo below shows the Queen Anne Garden, which on Monday was being used for a crossbow demonstration – children were queuing to have a go for themselves. Behind the garden is James V’s Renaissance Palace of Princelie Virtue which he had built for himself and his French Queen, Mary of Guise (the parents of Mary Queen of Scots) on the site of earlier buildings.

The pale golden building peeping out beyond the Palace is the Great Hall, commissioned by James IV (who died at Flodden Field in 1513) and completed in 1503. It almost glows in the sunlight because it is covered with ‘king’s gold’ limewash. It has been renovated and was reopened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999.

Stirling Castle Queen Anne Garden

Just visible in the photo above are the statues on the facade of the Palace and the Prince’s Walk. The statues are grotesque and warlike, portraying monsters hurling missiles south against any invaders. They include one of the Devil, with breasts:

Stirling Castle Devil Statue

There is so much to see and so much history within the Castle that I’d really like to go again one day. As well as the Official Souvenir Guide Book there are guided tours of the castle and an audio tour that you can listen to on your own, if you prefer – which I did.

I have far too many photos for one post, so maybe ‘ll post more photos in due course.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.