August 30, 2012

A few of my favourite things, part 3 – guest post by b_twin

(Part 1 -link)

(Part 2 -link)

Part 3:

Castles & Ruins

History was always one of my favourite subjects in school. Getting out there and into some textbook history is so amazing. And staring at castles and ruins and all that stonework just gives me goosebumps. An active imagination can be very useful also.

Here are a handful of (the hundreds of) shots I took when I visited the UK.

~ Lindisfarne ~

The little tidal island of Lindisfarne  – “Holy Island” – sits on the Northumbrian coastline not far from Bamburgh Castle. It was an important place for centuries and features figures such as St Aidan and St Cuthbert in its history. The ruins of the 12th Century Priory are here as well as a small fortress constructed in the 16th Century.

Lindisfarne Priory


Lindisfarne Castle

The day that we visited, it was a glorious day with a mild breeze – not bad considering it is notorious for its poor weather….

(Movie buffs may recognise Lindisfarne Castle as the “Mont St Pierre” in the 80s tele-movie ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ starring Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour.)


~ Bamburgh Castle ~

One of the royal residences of the ancient Kings of Northumbria. The gale coming in off the North Sea seemed so fitting and made for some bleak atmosphere.

Bamburgh Castle - front entrance


Bamburgh Castle - internal walls (built at different stage to entrance)

Side-note: The Victorian-era stables were… interesting!

Bamburgh Castle - Victorian-era stable



And still in Northumbria —

~ Chillingham Castle ~

Chillingham Castle - courtyard

Not actually a ruin, although it was derelict about 50 years ago. It’s a small baronial castle – and we stayed there!

Chillingham Castle - exterior


~ Whitby Abbey ~

Further down along the coast is another well-known Abbey ruin: Whitby Abbey.

Whitby Abbey on a summer day

Perched high on cliffs overlooking the sea it must have been a pretty tough place to live and work. The remains of the Abbey (destroyed by not only The Dissolution but also bombs during the World Wars) attract a lot of visitors and yet they still seem to hold a vast serenity.

Whitby Abbey - upper walkway

(Have I mentioned I have a “thing” for doorways….? Probably a blog’s worth of pics. ;-) )

Again, I was absolutely blessed the days I visited (I stayed overnight in the Youth Hostel next door). Very pleasant weather – apparently you are “supposed” to get gale force winds and dull overcast weather!! I didn’t miss them a bit.


~ Rievaulx Abbey ~

One of the many victims to the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Rievaulx is tucked away in a secluded Yorkshire valley.

Rievaulx Abbey


Rievaulx Abbey - inside the ruined church

Rievaulx Abbey is similar in many ways to Fountains Abbey. Just a little harder to get to and so a few less tourists. It certainly has a different atmosphere. At the time I felt almost like Fountains had lost its soul and was just a shell – magnificent nevertheless but still only a shell. Whereas Rievaulx still had the soul of a place of worship but that it was abandoned – and lonely. Maybe there was something in the Yorkshire water… ;) In any case, I found I preferred Rievaulx and its haunting grandeur.

~ Fountains Abbey ~


Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey



One of the things I love about visiting castles, especially, is to see the evidence of fortifications and the everyday functionality of the structures.

~ Pickering Castle  ~

A small baronial fortress tucked away in the Yorkshire countryside.

Pickering Castle - illustrating the "long drop" sewerage system!


Pickering Castle - approaching the Sallyport (internal)


Pickering Castle - External view of the Sallyport


~ Stirling Castle ~

Stirling has some good examples of defensive architecture still visible.

Stirling Castle - inside the wall, approaching a guard station

Going through the wall into one of the guard rooms.


Stirling Castle - remains of gate hinges and barricading mechanisms

Early “combination lock”? hehe Jokes aside, that’s set up for some serious lumps of wood!

Stirling Castle - defensive structures now become gardens :)


And finally, a birds-eye view of the “front door” to Warwick Castle:

Warwick Castle - Barbican and Gatehouse

Makes our “security screen doors” looks pretty inadequate!!


There are many, many castles in the UK – in varying states of decomposition – and I’ve really only been to a handful. This means that one day I will have to try and get back….




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