It is 7 minutes until midnight, almost day 6 at Hospitalfield. But tomorrow I am going to take a break. The clay moulds take a long time to dry here. In fact, I can pour one and go castle-hopping and come back and take it out of the mould without worrying a bit.
So there are said to be 19 amazing ‘romantic’ castles in Scotland. Most do not open their doors until April 1, secure in that date that spring should have fully arrived and their gardens will have that ‘wow factor’ for all the visitors. So tomorrow I am going to go and see two of those having ticked off Edinburgh Castle last week.
Dunnotar Castle is north of Arbroath, right along the coast. It is about a 35-40 minute drive. Today, the castle is run by Clan Keith. It is a ruined medieval fortress but its fame is the fact that it is positioned on a rocky outcrop hanging over the North Sea.
For Scotland, it was a very important site because it is where the Scottish crown jewels were hidden when Oliver Cromwell and his invading army from the south came in the 17th century. They held Cromwell off for eight months saving Scotland’s heritage. Visitors to the castle (when it was intact) include the Who’s Who of Scottish history: William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II. Sir William Wallace is known as being one of the great heroes who united all of the clans in Scotland to fight against Edward I’s army. The most significant event was a battle at a bridge near Stirling in September 1297. It is said that the stone bridge was only wide enough for two horses side by side and that it would take the English army hours and hours to cross. On 11 September the Scots forced the English to have to cross that bridge. William Wallace and his men waited until half of the army had passed over the bridge before charging it. The others went along the banks of the river preventing the English from escaping their deadly fate. 5000 Welsh Guards died with 100 fatalities for Wallace and his men. Known as the Battle of Stirling Bridge it is viewed as part of the first war of Scottish independence. Mary Queen of Scotts is probably the best known of all the Scottish heroes and martyrs. She was imprisoned by Queen Elizabeth 1 when she sought help during the battle of the Reformation (Catholic vs. Protestants) for nineteen years. In the intrigues of the day, Mary was discovered to be plotting against Elizabeth and she was executed at the guillotine at Fotheringhay Castle in 1587. Mary’s son would become James I of England and VI of Scotland after Elizabeth I’s death in 1603.
The second castle is Glamis Castle. It has been occupied since 1372. Most people consider it to be the most romantic castle in Scotland.
Information from Scottish Home & Garden says: “Glamis was the family home of the Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, and has been in the Lyon family since the 14th century, when Sir John Lyon, Thane of Glamis, received the land as a gift from King Robert II.”
It is said to be the setting for Shakespeare’s MacBeth and it was the birthplace of the late Princess Margaret.
The entrance fees for all of the castles are about $15 CDN, children are most often free. This gets you into the houses and the gardens. Each and everyone has a shop where you can buy products related to that specific castle as well as having a meal. You can even stay in cottages on the Balmoral estate of the Queen.
Photo Credit: Scottish Heritage and Scottish Home and Garden.