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CastleUK Blog
June 2010
The blog page, a place where I can record and then archive my monthly updates and what's new in our hunt for castles UK.

This months Scottish castles, houses and a tower, are from East Lothian and Midlothian.

This months castles finish off a nice East Lothian circular castle tour, starting and finishing at Dunbar or anywhere on the route you like. 37 miles, 1 hour 30 minutes in driving time, with 12 castles in total, its a good 1 or 2 day hunt and a good cross section of Scottish castle fortifications. The 6 castles that can be walked are Hailes, Markle, Dirleton, North Berwick, Tantallon and Auldhame. The 5 that can only be viewed are Dunbar, Waughton, Sydserf, Bass Rock and Whitekirk, Fenton is a Scottish castle hotel, 3 are in the care of Historic Scotland.

In May we got General Election fever and the website went quiet for a week or two. With all the election results declared, it emerges Britain has its first hung parliament since 1974. The Conservatives are the largest party but have fallen short of the 326 seats needed to form a majority government. Labour have lost more than 80 seats and the Liberal Democrats have failed to make any gains. Tory leader David Cameron and the Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg made a coalition government, with David Cameron has Prime Minister and Nick Clegg has Deputy Prime Minister. Following Gordon Brown's resignation, the Labour Party has started the process of choosing a new leader, I didn't vote for any of the 3 main party's but I hope that this coalition can get us out of the mess were in.
Time Team, Time Team, Time Team why do I watch it, Piercebridge was ok if you like Roman under water and Sutton Courtenay Anglo Saxon royal centre was great if you like looking at stains in the ground, ones for the purist there. Which brings us on to Hopton Castle, it was already on the site but I'd updated my pages, so I was ready for the programme, looking on Google I was 5th link so I should get tons of clicks. Busiest day of the year me thinks, wrong, I got about 200 clicks over 2 days, I was gutted, it's all vanity I known but a pat on the back now and again is nice. So what happened, well top link in Google always helps but the programme wasn't about the medieval castle but about the Civil War siege and the infamous massacres, which is all very important but I'm a medievalist and a 15th century one at that. They did show the layout of the motte and inner bailey castle but the finding of the gold Quarter Laurel coin from the 1620s and the talk about the keep were quickly passed over. I've visited this site, only viewing it from the roads but it's a big castle, with tons of earthworks and a keep, all the time Tony was talking about this or that and I was shouting at the TV, there's a big keep behind you why not take a look at that. He didn't hear me and all they did was dig a Tudor brick cellar to find the resting place of the defenders, which didn't happen.
To move on, have you been watching BBC Two's History Cold Case, a skeleton discovered at Stirling Castle may have been an English knight who died in the 14th Century. Sir John de Stricheley died in 1341, when the English held the castle, the battle-scared knight probably died from an arrow wound inflicted by the Scots. The skeleton was one of 10 excavated from the site of a lost royal chapel at the castle during refurbishment works in 1997 and the skeleton of a woman whose head had apparently been smashed with a mace was found near the knight. Documents uncovered by the team showed that Sir John, a Buckinghamshire lord, was a senior member of the garrison who died on 10 October 1341 and his family line has since died out, just now good is that, Time Team eat your heart out, I need say no more.

Click on the pictures, for more information.

Tantallon Castle Wallpaper
Tantallon Castle, OS 67/NT 596-850 East Lothian Scotland, is this months wallpaper.
The picture was taken in November 2009 and the view is of the top of the mighty stone curtain wall and the south-east tower, taken from the six storey keep-gatehouse. This mighty stone castle, with its formidable curtain wall is absolutely the best 14th century castle architecture anywhere in Scotland. It's a long way up to the top of the wall and it's not for the faint hearted but the views are worth the effort and you can take it from me that it rains up hill up there.
Borthwick Castle
Borthwick Castle, OS 66/NT 370-597 Midlothian Scotland.
Was a 13th century earthwork enclosure fortress, founded by the lairds of Lochorwart. In 1430 King James I, granted Sir William de Borthwick a charter to crenellate and he founded Borthwick Castle on the mote-hill. The stone U-plan keep, is of five storeys with two wings of seven and eight storeys and was originally encased by an irregularly-shaped ditched curtain wall, flanked by round and rectangular towers. The site is a privately owned hotel and is open, mid-March to 2nd of January. Access
is restricted to guests with reservations for an overnight stay, a wedding ceremony or dining in the restaurant. The castle is visible from the road.
A mighty good looking keep here, that you can stay in plus you can access a field by the church, if you like me only want to take a look.
Auldhame
Auldhame, OS 67/NT 602-846 East Lothian Scotland.
Is a 16th century stone L-plan tower house, probably founded by Sir Adam Otterburn of Reidhall. Built on lands that originally belonged to the church, the only history of this laird's house is that was later held by the Colt family and abandoned in the 1700s. Commanding the edge of a slope down to Seacliff beach, the ruined main rectangular block is of three storeys with crow-stepped, gables, a corbelled-out round bartizan and a vaulted basement. The site is freely accessible in daylight hours.
This shadowy ruin hiding in the woods is a castle hunters dream or maybe it's was just Bridadoon, be careful of the slope if it's there on the day you visit.
Markle
Markle, OS 67/NT 579-775 East Lothian Scotland.
Is a 14th century stone tower house, founded by the Hepburns. A rocky outcrop was encased by a wide ditch with outer and inner ramparts, to make a sub-rectangular walled courtyard, flanked by circled towers. In the late 16th century, the Stewarts added a three storey rectangular laird's house and a rectangular southern wing to the tower house, to make two ranges with a small square courtyard. The site is freely accessible in daylight hours, after asking for permission to view at the Angling centre.
Lots of ruined castle above and below ground here, a great site in a lovely spot.
Waughton Castle Waughton Castle, OS 67/NT 567-809 East Lothian Scotland.
Is a mid 14th century stone courtyard fortress, founded by the Hepburns. Standing on a rectangular rock outcrop which rises sharply on south and west and a partly artificial stairway leads down the rock to the ground. The south-west angle was occupied by the house, of which only a small projecting 16th century square wing remains. At the north-east angle is a ruined structure and the north and east sides of the rock were encased by a wall, both are of a later date. The site is visible from the road.
Great looking site but a closer look would have been better.
Whitekirk Whitekirk, OS 67/NT 596-816 East Lothian Scotland.
Was originally a mid 16th century square stone tower house, founded by Oliver Sinclair. Standing on a rocky prominence, the tower was build with a stone for early 15th century rectilinear pilgrim houses, which were established on the site by King James I. In 1544 and 1548 during the 'Rough Wooing' invasion, English troops under the Earl of Hereford burnt the tower. The site is visible from the road.
The best view is from the churchyard and the tower part is easy to see.
North Berwick Castle Hill Castle Hill, OS 67/NT 561-852 East Lothian Scotland.
Is a 13th century earthwork enclosure fortress, founded by the Macduffs, Thanes of Fife. Standing on a low promontory overlooking the sea shore, it was thought to be the original castle of the de Vaux family. During the Wars of Independence with England, the castle was occupied from 1298, by the army of King Edward I under Bishop Beck. The site is freely accessible in daylight hours.
Nice castle mound here, with benches and an information board on the top plus a great panorama of the Firth of Forth, nice one.

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