Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Some castle sightings in the United Kingdom


In summer 1983, Mr Peck and traveling companion Jane set off on the first of many trips to Scotland. Is Scotland a country? Or a province of England, or what? Never mind, it's always wonderful, even when the fog's in and the mist is rising to meet it.

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Jane in the Castle Acre Priory in Norfolk. We're taking the scenic route northwards towards Scotland, back in 1983, and viewing as many castles as is humanly possible whilst we're at it.

For example, Castle Rising in Norfolk, England, begun in 1140 and later the seat of the Howards, Dukes of Norfolk, from the 16th century onwards; here adorned by traveling companion Jane, July 1983.

And Whitby Abbey, where the religious guys gathered to pray and make illuminated gospels, etc.

Crichton Castle, something about Bothwell and Mary Queen of Scots hiding out, a fine faux-Italian Renaissance tiled courtyard in the centre (link to courtyard photo on CastleXplorer site).

Crichton Castle, a little southeast of Edinburgh, dating from the end of the 14th century.

Drum Castle, west of Aberdeen, with cartwheeler, July 1983

Urquhart Castle, where all the best Loch Ness monster sightings take place: a welcome night camping under the parapets on the shore, during a cross-country kayak trip in 1983. Begun in the 13th century, the castle was pretty much blown up by a departing garrison of soldiers in 1692.

Passing back through the splendid Isle of Skye, the travelers visited Dunvegan Castle in the northwest, where the charming McLeod of McLeod himself came down in his lovely little kilt to show us round and suggest that we, like McLeods all over the world, might wich to contribute to pay for a new roof on the castle.

Driving south again, here's Caerloverock Castle south of Glasgow. Great moat, not much else left. Who doesn't know the feeling?? It's unique as a three-sided castle, begun in about 1300 but demolished by Robert Bruce, rebuilt and soon demolished again in the 17th century.

Brough Castle, in Cumbria, 1983 -- dating from the 1090s, already ruined by 1174, rebuilt and maintained by the Cliffords until pretty much abandoned in the 17th century. But here we are, so that's all right.

Corgarff in the Cairngorm mountains -- a 16th century tower, with mid-18th century star-shaped fort walls. It saw great service in the 19th century as a base for tax officials trying to collect taxes on the reluctant whiskey distilleries.

Eilean Donan

The classic, fantastic Eilean Donan castle, on Loch Alsh not far from the Isle of Skye -- built in 1220 to protect against Vikings, but levelled by the English in 1719 to drive out a garrison of Spanish soldiers.

The castle was reconstructed in the 1920s by the then-owners, the McRae family, based upon (if my memory of our visit serves) a groundplan viewed in a dream by one of the McRaes' gardeners. The arch bridge was added at that time, and served as the setting of an evocative early scene of clan warfare in the The Highlander (1986). Here it serves as the setting for Marlowe in 1985, riding on her charger Jane, thundering across it to do battle with the Clan MacLunch.

The stunning medieval Eilean Donan, built to a gardener's dream vision in the 1920s.

Dunottar

The site of Dunottar, just south of Aberdeen, has always been fortified and got whacked by Vikings in the 800s and by the English several times since. In 1651, during Cromwell's invasion of Scotland, the Scots crown jewels were brought here for safe-keeping, but it wasn't so safe after all. The castle withstood an eight-months' seige by the English but then got thoroughly trashed -- in the meantime, however, the crown jewels had been neatly smuggled out and got away.

Traveling companion Jane viewing Dunnotar Castle in 1983 prior to setting up a camp . . . nearby. The extraordinary scenery provided background footage of Elsinore in Mel Gibson's film version of Hamlet.

Travelers pacing about and smooching in Dunottar Castle, waiting for the wardens to leave, 1983.

Jane and Marlowe at Dunottar in 1985.

The definitive and infinitely enjoyable Web site about castles in the UK is http://www.castlexplorer.co.uk/.


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 26 October 2006, revised 30 April 2008, 10 October 2014.


Recent Events