This is the St Andrews Castle and Castle Sands on a tranquil late autumn day. The castle must have been pretty nice in its day but now is sadly badly ruined. There is a siege mine underneath that has a cool history.
The story is that in 1546, the cruel Cardinal David Beaton, whose residence was the castle, burnt the Protestant preacher George Wishart at the stake out in front of the castle. This very public execution was a spark to intensify the wars of the Reformation in Scotland.
The Protestant friends of Wishart (including several lairds of the area), snuck inside the castle dressed as masons since there was construction going on at the time there. The Cardinal was stabbed and his naked body hung from a high tower window facing the front of the street. These Protestants began to occupy the castle and then were attacked by supporters of the Cardinal, primarily the Regent, the Earl of Arran.
The famous Protestant preacher John Knox, who was primarily responsible for the Scottish Reformation, was smuggled into the castle to be the minister for the defenders. The besiegers could not breach the walls after a long struggle and so began to dig a tunnel under the gatehouse to get in from below. When that was discovered, the defenders began to dig a counter-mine to meet it. Both mines were cut through solid rock. The defenders tried three times to reach directly to the mine since they were guided only by the sound of the pickaxes. Finally the fight was joined as the tunnels met yet the defenders were able to keep the invaders out. It took a French force to bombard the castle with powerful canons for the castle to surrender. The defenders were either imprisoned in France or sent to the galleys, as John Knox was.
The tunnels were only rediscovered in 1879 and you can go there today, and as I did last year, to creep down the clammy, cramped tunnels and imagine the hard labour it took to carve them. The attackers’ side is smooth, decently large (for a hand carved tunnel) and the defenders’ side is very narrow and jagged. Rank moss grows inside the tunnel and there is a constant drip of water from the walls. Not for those who are claustrophobic! You can see in the paving stones in front of the castle the initials of George Wishart made of cobble stones.
On my recent trip to the Scottish Highlands, I took this shot of the Glencoe area. The tops of the mountains were hidden in mist and there was a chilly drizzle, as you may expect. The stream was as clear as glass. The glens and hills of the Highlands are mysterious and awe-inspiring. Will definitely visit the area again.
The view from the walls of Stirling Castle, Stirling, Scotland, overlooking the plains. On a grey dreary day, the sudden rays of sun cutting through the clouds bring a sudden feeling of lightness. Continue reading “View from Stirling Castle”
We visited the Camera Obscura in Edinburgh recently and really enjoyed all of the exhibits. If you like optical illusions, fascinating inventions, mazes, puzzles, and the like, you’d have a good time. I even got a pretty good shock from someone touching a plasma tube and touching me at the same time! Continue reading “Plasma Ball at Camera Obscura, ‘World of Illusions’, Edinburgh (photograph)”
Edinburgh Castle on a bright spring morning. I am at the top of the Camera Obscura, 19th century tower which houses the “World of Illusions” and also a device (called the Camera Obscura). This from their website (camera-obscura.co.uk):
‘The Camera Obscura show is a fascinating and highly amusing way to see the city and learn about its history. This unique experience has delighted and intrigued people for over 150 years. It is a ‘must’ on any visit to Edinburgh.
From inside this mysterious Victorian rooftop chamber, you see live moving images of Edinburgh projected onto a viewing table through a giant periscope. Pick people up on your hands, squash them to a pulp and even make the traffic climb over paper bridges.
Our friendly guide will entertain you while telling stories of Edinburgh, past and present, in an engaging and informative way. Our visitors are truly amazed at how, in this age of high technology, a simple array of mirror, lenses and daylight can produce this incredible panorama.’
Yes, I did enjoy the show and it was truly interesting how such an old device could be so clear and comprehensive in the image it produced.
This is a view down High Street in Edinburgh old town of the David Hume Statue and St Giles’ Cathedral. Photo taken relatively early in the morning, with local people off to work and tourists nosing about for good breakfast places. This woman in the red coat seems to be contemplating the statue or else trying to decide where to go next. Or maybe she’s waiting to meet someone. The policeman may be ready to start his day full of writing parking tickets. If you turn around, you’d see up the hill to the Edinburgh Castle from this spot. Continue reading “David Hume Statue and St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh (photograph)”