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    Scotiana’s Favourite Castles in Scotland…

    We’ve already visited a number of castles in Scotland but there are still many more to discover for as a taxi driver told us in Glasgow: “In Scotland one can find a castle, or what remains of it, at every turn of the road.” As I was writing my post about Linlithgow Palace, the first of a series dedicated to places linked with Mary Queen of Scots, I decided to begin another series specifically devoted to our favourite Scottish castles, including Linlithgow Palace where Mary Stuart was born.

     

    Edinburgh Castle & Ross Theatre in West Princes Street Gardens © 2015 Scotiana

    Edinburgh Castle & Ross Theatre in West Princes Street Gardens © 2015 Scotiana

    How many castles are there in Scotland, I wonder. It may well prove as difficult to answer such a question as to try and give the exact number of Scottish lochs and islands. In fact, it depends on what we consider to be a “castle”. But if you catch a glimpse on my selection of pictures you can get and idea of the architectural jewels we’ve discovered in Scotland during our eight trips there. As our curiosity is insatiable, I’m already making a new list for our Itinerary 9.

    Fyvie, Crathes and Stalker castles in Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Fyvie, Crathes and Stalker castles – Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Glamis, Threave and  Abbotsford castles - Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Glamis, Threave and Abbotsford castles in Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Traquair House, Drum  and Blair castles - Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Traquair House, Drum and Blair castles – Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    To find a satisfactory definition of what can be considered as a “castle” is not simple and historians are divided about the question, but it is all the more complicated in Scotland that you can find vestiges of old defensive structures everywhere. The fact that most Scottish “castles” have undergone a number of changes over the centuries, from the dark and tumultuous ages when it was a question of survival for a chief to be able to defend his family and people against permanent attacks to more peaceful times when the castle became a symbol of prestige for its owner, doesn’t facilitate the distinction between the different kinds of buildings.  It is generally admitted that a castle is a fortified structure built in the Middle Ages and what distinguishes it from a fortress is that it was – and sometimes still is – used as a private residence for the nobility.

    Corgaff, Craigievar and Dunrobin castles - Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Corgaff, Craigievar and Dunrobin castles – Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Ardvreck Cawdor Dunvegan castles - Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Ardvreck, Cawdor and Dunvegan castles – Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace & Armadale © 2017 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace & Armadale © 2017 Scotiana

    So far, we’ve visited about 50 castles in Scotland but we’re happy to know there are still many more to discover there for we do love the Scottish castles which mingle so well with the already beautiful landscape, adding a touch of awe and mystery in an ever-changing atmosphere quite specific to Scotland.

    The Castles of Scotland Martin Coventry 5th edition Goblinshead Prestongrange House 2015

    The Castles of Scotland Martin Coventry 5th edition Goblinshead Prestongrange House 2015

    Now, I turn to Martin Coventry’s The Castles of Scotland, my bible in matter of castles, to see if I can find the beginning of an answer to my question about the number of Scottish Castles. There must be something there. I recently bought the 5th edition of Martin Coventry’s book. Mine was beginning to be out of date.

    On Amazon one can read under the picture of the book : “The Castles of Scotland: A Comprehensive Guide to More Than 4,100 Castles, Towers, Historic Houses, Stately Homes and Family Lands”, which is a first indication. I’ve read elsewhere on the Internet that there were more than 3,000 castles in Scotland. Anyway, what is sure is that there are a great number of them and for our greater pleasure !

     

    Tantallon Castle BeBop aerial view © 2017 Scotiana

    Tantallon Castle BeBop aerial view © 2017 Scotiana

     

    As you can see on my selection of pictures which represents only a few of the castles we’ve visited in Scotland there is a great variety of castles. Some are called “palaces” (Holyrood Palace, Linlithgow Palace, Falkland Palace, Dunfermline Palace, Earl’s Palace ), other are called “houses” (Traquair House)  or ” towers” (Greenknowe Tower, Smailholm Tower) though most of them are simply called castles.

    Many of these castles stand in the middle of magnificent parks (Scone Palace, Blair Castle). I remember pretty well the first time when we went to Scone Palace.  It was too late to visit the castle but we lingered a long time in the magnificent park surrounding the ivy-covered building. It was as if we had landed in the garden of Eden. We strolled about in the middle of a forest of rhododendrons in full bloom. It was magical. I was the last one to get out of this wonderful place and the gatekeeper was waiting for me, with a friendly smile, to close the big gates. A number of ruined castles, a major source of inspiration for the romantic artists and poets, stand amidst breathtaking landscapes (Ardvreck Castle, Kilchurm Castle, Lochranza Castle), some of them overlooking the ocean (Tantallon Castle, Sinclair Castle).

    Carnasserie Castle, Scone Palace and Mountstuart - Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Carnasserie Castle, Scone Palace and Mountstuart – Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

     

    Learning the history and mysteries of so many different castles, photographing them in every angle while discovering the creativity of the architects which is reflected in the smallest details ornating door lintels, walls, roofs, turrets, is one of our favourite activities when we travel in Scotland. Most castles shelter treasures : magnificent painted ceilings, elaborate plasterwork, painting masterpieces, fine furniture, refined china, silver or pewter cups and table settings… you can spend hours inside their walls to avoid to be drenched to the skin in the park when it is raining. But mind the closing hours for fear of being forgotten inside the castle in company of the ghost(s) which keep the place. That’s a joke for in Scotland you can be sure that people in charge of the castles won’t let you closed in… that’s a pity!

    Caerlaverock Castle aerial view r1 Bebop Drone © 2015 Scotiana

    Caerlaverock Castle aerial view r1 Bebop Drone © 2015 Scotiana

    I hope to have made you feel like visiting or revisiting a number of these emblematic Scottish castles but stay tuned for this post is only the first one of a new series about our favourite castles. We’ll make you discover them one after one, beginning with Linlithgow Palace where Mary Queen of Scots was born.

    Bonne lecture !

    À bientôt.

    Mairiuna

     

     

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