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CastleUK Blog 2013

Castle UK Blog February 2013 PageThis is the place where I record and then archive my monthly updates and what's new in our hunt for castles UK.

Ricardian February started with the most important news of all, we found out that the skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park, was King Richard III. Richard was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 after only two years on the throne and was buried in the church of Grey Friars but during the Reformation in the 16th century the church was demolished and over the following centuries its exact location forgotten. In August 2012, an excavation funded by the Richard III Society began in a city council car park, which was the only open space remaining in the likely area and buildings connected to the church were quickly identified. Bones were found in the first days of the dig and the walls of the church were then identified of being from the choir, the place where Richard was buried. When I heard about the dig last year, I thought they would be lucky to find the church, never mind finding its choir and then a grave with his bones in it, it's nothing short of miraculous. Next year his reburial should be at Leicester Cathedral and we can finally pay our homage to Richard, Leicester it's the only place to go in 2014.
We had a 4 day castle hunt in February, heading to Newcastle and then on to Kinross in Fife, Bath Lane Newcastle upon Tyne went into the GPS and in light snow we set off, it's hunting time again. The town wall is top of the list but the first thing we see before turning into Bath Lane is St James' Park the home of Newcastle United Football Club, it's a fine looking stadium and I didn't know it was so close to the city centre. We park up by the town walls and find out that it's Chinatown and Sunday the 10th is the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Snake, castle hunting leads us down so many paths. It's bitterly cold with light snow, I head for the West Walls, the longest continuous section of wall and the Castle Spotter heads for the shops. Walking down Back Stowell Street, the vents from the Chinese restaurants tickles my taste buds, then I'm back out to the front and along the recreated outer ditch back to the car. My fingers are cold and it's time to find the Hotel du Vin, after checking in and warming up, we head along the river bank to find Newcastle Castle. We go under the Tyne Bridge and climb Castle Stairs, it takes us to the south curtain wall and postern of the castle, through the postern and the Castle Keep is in front of us. Wow, added by King Henry II in 1168-78, it's a fine example of a Norman Keep, which is open all year, so in we go. Back out we walk under the high level railway line, that now divides the castle in two and go through the Black Gate (another wow) added by King Henry III in 1247, for a bit of Castle Spotter shopping.
Next day before heading for Scotland, we visit two more sites in Newcastle, Adam de Jesmonds Camera and Burradon Tower, then in true castle hunting fashion, I take a picture of the Blake Arms pub, Seghill, it's not the best looking pub in the world but the barrel vaulted beer cellar are the remains of a fortified tower or tower house, of 1280.
Here we are back home in the Kirklands Hotel, Kinross, a place where they serve good food and beer, plus they cool the Spotters wine glass with iced water before filling it, she likes that. We walk down to the loch every morning and look across the water to Loch Leven Castle, the air is fresh and the ground, icy and like kids we have fun breaking the frozen puddles, this is why we are here. We visit the great town of St Andrew and its castle and have a little look round Perth, both have great Castle Spotter shopping, of course there are castles and towers to see but none to visit. We call into Falkland, hoping the palace gardens are open but the closed sign is on the door, the little town is full of great old buildings and we must see more of the palace, we'll return, we'll always return to Kirklands.

For more information, click on the pictures.

Lindisfarne Castle OS 75/NU 136-417 Northumberland England WallpaperLindisfarne Castle, OS 75/NU 136-417 Northumberland England Wallpaper, is my March / Easter wallpaper and I like the picture to include a Christian reference.
The picture was taken in January 2013 and the view is of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and its castle.
St Aidan founded the first monastery on Lindisfarne in 635 but the most celebrated of its Holy men is St Cuthbert, Prior of Lindisfarne. After many missionary journeys and ten years as a hermit on Farne Island, he reluctantly became bishop before retiring to die on Farne in 687. Buried in Lindisfarne Priory, his remains were transferred to a pilgrim shrine there after 11 years and found still undecayed, this was regarded as a sure sign of sanctity.
Kilchurn CastleKilchurn Castle OS 50/NN 133-276 Argyllshire Scotland.
Is a mid 15th century stone tower house and courtyard fortress, founded by Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy. Standing on a low peninsula that juts into Loch Awe, the rectangular tower house of four storeys and a garret probably had a small south-western barmkin. Defended by a ditch on the landward side, in the late 15th century Sir Duncan Campbell built the laich hall against the south curtain wall. Visited in May 2011 on our 6 day Scottish castle expedition, the site is owned by Historic Scotland and open daily April to September, the outside is freely accessible in daylight hours.
It's a nice walk from the car park off A85, under the nearby railway viaduct via the loch-side, great castle ruin when you get there, for us the rain and low cloud put a bit of a dampener on the visit.
Cathcart CastleCathcart Castle, OS 64/NS 587-600 Lanarkshire Scotland.
Was a 15th century stone keep and courtyard fortress, founded by the Cathcarts. Standing above White Cart Water, the family had held the estate from the 12th century and on Court Hill are the outline features of a possible encasing earth ringwork. The rectangular keep inside a small rectangular barmkin, flanked by round angle towers, had a first floor hall over a vaulted basement. The site is accessible with care in daylight hours, the remains are now hidden in a mass of trees and vegetation, at the top of a overhanging cliff in Linn Park.
The very sad ruin of Cathcart took some finding, the men who work in the park knew there it was but wondered why we wanted to see it. When we found it we understood why and it's hard to believe that castles were still being demolished in 1980, leaving only meagre overgrown remains of 3 of its walls. If they cleared the site and put up signs, they'd have to put a fence around it because you can easily walk off the side of the cliff if your not careful but maybe that's why it's hidden? There's a gate in to the park at the bottom of Old Castle Road and Seil Drive, you will see a path up the hill to the right. It could be easier to walk up Old Castle Road and jump over the wall at the top, you will see there once was an opening in the wall but we always take the hard path, so we had to climb the hill.

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