Wednesday, 29 October 2014
Castles and Abbeys - Scotland in Autumn
I chose Arbroath as a place to stay pretty much at random. I didn't realise that the lovely ruined Arbroath Abbey was quite so significant in Scottish history.
In 1320, the Declaration of Arbroath was written (probably) by the Abbot of Arbroath Abbey and sent to the Pope to entreat him to recognise Scotland as an independent country. In those days the Pope was the top international authority in the western world.
The declaration includes the moving words, "… it is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself."
After a couple of pleasant hours at Arbroath Abbey I took the pretty drive over to Glamis. I was mostly interested in Glamis Castle because I recognised the name from Shakespeare's "Macbeth". However Glamis Castle is nothing like the blasted ruin that I expected from seeing the play. It's been a plush country escape for very rich people for centuries.
The building started in the 1300s as a hunting lodge. The fairytale castle look was achieved in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Most of the outside of the building and grounds have barely changed since then.
The Strathmore family still live part-time in the castle and they also do a roaring trade as a venue for weddings and corporate hospitality.
We had an expert and friendly tour guide take us around 10 rooms inside, but photos weren't allowed so I can't show you details.
They were very grand rooms with all sorts of interesting curiosities. One of my favourite things were the embroidered bed hangings that took 14 years for the lady of the house to complete. They were made in the 1600s and are still in pretty good nick today. There was incredible detail and creativity in all the different animals, plants and decorations she embroidered.
I do have to mention that Glamis Castle is the late Queen Mother's childhood home - there were lots of interesting royal connections and stories.
Beautiful autumn views from the bridge heading into the walled garden.
A touch of autumn colour in the trees. I saw signs warning me to be careful driving because there might be a red squirrel on the road, but of course I saw no sign of squirrels.
There are three big amazing castles within a short drive around that part of the country (and it's only about an hour and a half north of Edinburgh). I'm definitely going back for another look around as the countryside is stunning and I do love a good castle!