Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Medieval Castle - Prayers, Banquets and en suite Latrines

The village of Dirlton, East Lothian, from the castle grounds.

Close to the castle is the dovecot, built around 1500 to provide both eggs and meat for the household.
Sometimes hundreds of young pigeons were eaten at banquets.

The interior is especially beautiful, there's a feeling of entering an Italian Renaissance chapel.
The nesting boxes housed up to 2000 pigeons which  flew out and in through a circular opening in the roof.

The tower on the left is part of the original Dirleton Castle built by John de Vaux in the mid 1200s.
The de Vaux family first settled Scotland in the 1100s at a time when landless Anglo-French Knights
were offered land by King David I in exchange for their allegiance to the Scottish crown.

Entrance doorway originally approached via a drawbridge.

Water colour reconstruction by Andrew Spratt

John de Vaux was steward (keeper of the royal household) to Marie de Cloucy,queen consort of Alexander II.
 In these days there was much coming and going between Scotland and France
and it is thought that Dirleton was modeled on Chateau de Cloucy, the queen's family
home in Northern France,which de Vaux would almost certainly have visited.

The inner courtyard.

The castle construction was redesigned a number of times during it's 400 year use.
Some changes were made as a result of war damage and others to fit the needs and fashion of
the period. A show of wealth and status was essential in these dangerous and unstable times.

Lord de Vaux's main room in the old tower.

A vaulted and ribbed stone ceiling supported the chamber above. The ceiling and floors were plastered
and painted,a large fire burned in the fireplace,richly coloured tapestries and heavy curtains covered the walls and the floor was strewn with rushes end scented herbs.

Next door was the lords private bedchamber and latrine closet.

His latrine closet.

Site of the old ovens in the cellar bakehouse.

The well : water could be drawn from both ground and first floor levels.

Cellar store rooms beside the bakehouse where grain and other provisions were stored.
The vaulted ceiling supports the floor of the Great Hall above.

The Great Hall

In the 14th century, ownership of the castle passed by marriage to the Halliburton family. They were
responsible for the building of the Great Hall and other modernization of the time.

Food was brought in from the kitchen doorway on the left. The Minstrels Gallery would
have been situated above the central carved stone buffet.

The buffet on which the family silver was displayed.

While banqueting, the family and important guests sat on a raised stage at the opposite end of the hall.

Swan was commonly served and displayed as in the above information board illustration.
Pieces of stale bread were used as plates.

The tables, composed of boards on trestles, were easily moved to clear the floor for dancing.

In the Chapel this niche would probably have held a shrine.

The day was divided into eight canonical hours,each period representing a time of prayer.
People conducted their work and personal lives in the breaks between.

The priest had a private room and latrine closet close to the chapel.

The numerous window seats would not have been cold and uninviting as they are now,but adorned with
cushions curtains and hangings. Leaded glass was expensive and a sign of wealth.
In winter, fires in almost every room kept the inhabitants warm.

Brightly coloured tapestries were a medieval interior design must have for rich families.
Woven in wool, silk and gold threads, few survive, mostly because they were burned,stolen or
 cut up to extract the gold.

We are now nearing the Winter Solstice and darkness falls early.
On the left a visitor reads an information board in the fading light.
My friend Louise and I, in need of hot coffee, decide to head for the village inn. 

Window seat at the V.I.P end of the Great Hall.

After 1600 the castle ceased to be a domestic residence and in 1650 was extensively damaged
by cannon. It passed into state care in 1923 and is currently maintained by Historic Scotland.

Seagulls circle, as they have done for centuries, and the smoke trail from a passing plane
brings us back into the twenty-first century.

Thank you for visiting

Shared with       Mosaic Monday      Our World Tuesday     Skywatch Friday


Sally Tharpe Rowles said...

How interesting, Ruby! You have taken such wonderful photographs & I love the addition of the art works & illustrations depicting life as it was. Also love the photo of the beautiful colorful threads. Thanks for this interesting & informative journey.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! Thank you so much for taking us on this tour. Visiting a castle is something I would dearly love to manage in this lifetime.

Anonymous said...

Such an amazing and beautiful place!

Ramakrishnan Ramanathan said...

Hi Ruby
Lovely pictures of the castle ruins and interiors - feel like being transported back to the time of Kings,Queens,Knaves & Knights from the 14th century. Loved the dovecot but pity the poor pigeons :)Best Wishes Ram

biebkriebels said...

An interesting post with all the old pictures included. You get a great image of the past and how things looked liked in those times. The castle is in a pretty well state as uou considder the age of the building. Thanks for sharing.

Minoru Saito said...

Hi! I like castles very much. They have history in themselves. Your photos are very beautiful. I like the last two photo especially. Thanks for sharing.

The Greenockian said...

Beautiful photographs. Looks like an amazing place!

lisa hermanson said...

Thanks for the great tour - I truly feel like I've been somewhere - evokes such strong feeling of a distant place AND time...

ashok said...

what a fascinating castle!

Lynn said...

Gorgeous castle! You've certainly captured it beautifully. I'm dying to visit it one day!

eileeninmd said...

Wonderful tour of the castle. I would love to explore it myself someday. Beautiful photos. Enjoy your weekend!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post, thank you for the tour!

Arti said...

Gorgeous, I felt like I was reading a story right out of a story book. Felt like I was right there with you! Many thanks for taking me along. My first visit here and I loved my visit, please drop by my blog too in some of your free time. I would love to hear from you.

Tammie Lee said...

hello Ruby,

such a wonderful strand of photographs, a wonderful place to see. I love the artful way you have captured it. thank you for sharing your journey with us.

Stewart M said...

I would be wonderful to know what it was really like to live in these buildings and at these times.

We can but guess.

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Anonymous said...

Oh, I can feel the history and the battles! Gorgeous shots.

sarah said...

What a lovely tour! Thanks to illustrations and nice photos I could understand the castle well.
Happy December!

dritanje said...

A lovely journey with so many beautiful images, and the collage at the beginning is stunning. I have learned a lot too. I like the way you bring us back to the present, too. Mxx

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

What a beautifully done post. The way you inserted the tapestries and paintings was great. Amazing history, and architecture. You are a great tour guide! Perfect ending photo too.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating and Beautiful!! would love to visit someday!!! No snow?
Happy Yule to you! thank you for the tour!

Midori said...

Thank you for sharing. I love old castles and this one is very nice!

Judy said...

Thank you for such a detailed walk through an old castle!!! I have never seen one, and I love your attention to detail! the interior of the dovecote is especially beautiful! I wonder how the workers got to the upper levels to gather the eggs and young birds...

Sciarada said...

Ciao Ruby, the castles have always been for me an environment with a magical atmosphere, I wish you a happy Christmas and a great 2014!

Anonymous said...

Hello again, I am Plumfield House Gardens, http://plumfieldhousegardens.blogspot.com/
I also have another blog thevictoriantailor.blogspot.com
hope to hear from you again,

Lynne with an e said...

What a grand and fascinating tour! Thanks so much for bringing us along. You are an excellent tour guide.

stardust said...

I like the way you inserted how it was in the mevieval time into the series of ruins. I could understand about the past prosperity and I also thought how fleeting such prosperity was in the photos of the castle ruins. I like stone walls. Nice to hear it is maintained by the Historic Scotland.


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