This is the first of a brand new occasional series here on Walking Talking, Castle connections. It will hopefully get a better title but it will have to be alliterative. The idea came one Sunday when I was at Aberdour Castle in Fife. The notion to go to Aberdour had come on the train into town. As I got off, my eye rested on a poster advertising a Lego exhibition at Aberdour Castle. In that moment an aimless day was changed with a walk up to the bus station bound for the Fife riviera. I’m a firm believer in things being connected, keeping in mind John Muir’s credo that ‘When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe’. A lot of historic places in Scotland are connected, by their owners, geography or events. This series will go from place to place, finding a connection between one place and another, started on a train in suburban Glasgow and ending somewhere as yet unknown.
Aberdour could set off a few connections. The dovecot in the orchard could take me to another place with a dovecot, like Dirleton, Tantallon or Phantassie in East Lothian, while I know there’s an orchard at Elcho Castle in Perthshire. The painted ceiling in one of the upstairs rooms could send me to Huntingtower Castle near Perth, which has a cracking one, or even to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The ceiling is incidentally best viewed by lying on the floor and Historic Environment Scotland to their credit provide torches and blankets to assist in that endeavour. Another connection can be drawn through the TV series Outlander which I still haven’t seen. A board described Aberdour’s use as a filming location in the series, along with Blackness Castle, Doune Castle, Linlithgow Palace and Glasgow Cathedral. I also know Craigmillar Castle was used, since a photo from this very blog ended up in a guidebook for Scottish Outlander locations the other month.
I am a big history buff, even trying to find time to study it through the Open University, and I’ve been going to historic places since I was a kid. There’s not many castles I haven’t been to in Scotland, though there must be some. I passed one in Fife just the other day that I had never seen before. I hope that in this series I’ll be able to get to a few new interesting places and not a few familiar ones too, finding whatever makes them tick and what will take me on another adventure thereafter.
Update: The series has since been named ‘Loose ends’. That was inspired by reading the poem ‘Scotland’ by Hugh MacDiarmid, which has the lines:
‘So I have gathered unto myself
All the loose ends of Scotland,
And by naming them and accepting them,
Loving them and identifying myself with them,
Attempt to express the whole’.