Thursday, 24 January 2013

Medieval Castle by the Sea - Part 1

Tantallon Castle near North Berwick, East Lothian.

Tantallon Castle stands on a rocky headland looking out to the Forth and the North Sea.
It was built in the 1350s as a fortress- residence by William 1st Earl of Douglas.
William had spent his youth in France and would have been well acquainted
with French architecture and design.

The Douglases were one of the most powerful baronial families in Scotland and over the following
centuries the castle was  the scene of  banquets,sieges and intrigue.
After Archibald the 8th Earl died in 1588 it was no longer used as a private residence.

In 1651 the castle was severely damaged by Oliver Cromwell's guns and never rebuilt.
It is now in the care of Historic Scotland.

The Mid Tower housed the lord's most senior officials.

The East Tower originally of five storeys had single room on each floor with a latrine closet.
This may have been guest accommodation.

A pedestrian walkway now replaces the drawbridge. Below is the Ditch which increased
protection for the main curtain wall.

The Douglas Tower,once a seven storey 30 metre high structure,contained the private quarters
of the lord and lady of the castle.

Information board illustration  -  showing how the castle may have looked when first built.

Tantallon was the last "curtain wall" design castle to be built in Scotland.

The Inner Close,behind the curtain wall,would originally have been enclosed
on all sides by a high wall on the cliff edge.

Blue skies give a false impression of the weather conditions on the day I visited.The wind
was bitterly cold and snow flakes were constantly flying about,even in the sunshine.

Great hall extension.

Image source - Wikipedia

Reconstruction of a late Medieval great hall in Yorkshire.
In Scotland at this time the floor may have been stone and the tapestries of French design.
This was an entertaining,feasting and dancing room.

The minstrels gallery would have been on the wall facing the lord's table,
and  most commonly of wooden construction with stairs connected to
a passageway,so that the performers could come and go unseen.

Image Source - Wikipedia

Musicians and entertainers would either be retained at the lord of the castle or travel
from place to place around Europe.

Instruments played are likely to have been,fiddles,bagpipes,flutes,
flageolets and drums.

Below the great hall lay the kitchens and other utility rooms.

Information board illustration of a servant with pots.

Copper alloy pot handle,ceramic buttons and bird headed spout found at Tantallon.

An army of anonymous servants cooked,cleaned,sewed,brewed,baked,nursed,cut wood,tended
animals,guarded,prayed,shoveled all manner of muck and much much more.

The kitchen would probably have been one of the more desirable places to work.......and sleep.

The Well in the Inner Close,sunk to a depth of over 30 metres,was the castle's main water supply.

Information board showing layout plan.

To be continued .....

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Winter Woods and Mermaid Lights

These photos were taken on our New Year's day walk in the East Lothian countryside.
It was a beautiful day with blue skies,a light wind and temperature of 13C degrees
........... not unusual for this time of year.

Despite the fact that it's less than two weeks since the Winter Solstice,there's
a distinct whiff of Spring in the air.

From this windy hilltop we have a clear view over farmland to the Firth of Forth and Fife hills.

The mounds on the horizon (left) conceal the remains of a Roman encampment,dating from the time
of the Roman occupation of Britain.

Maddy  -  merging with the wind!

Crocuses in the Botanic Gardens,Edinburgh -  late February.

Spring is hopefully only a short time away!

On the way home I collected some shells,with the intention of making an artwork.

The artwork "Mermaid Lights" is now completed and I've shown it ,along with the construction

process on my other blog  Starry Universe ......HERE.

Thankyou for visiting.

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