Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Today's Castle: Doune, Scotland

I'm off on a three day adventure with my elder daughter through the Scottish Highlands. We drove out of Stirling this morning, and our first stop was Castle Doune. This is a fascinating place and it has the added bonus of being the place where much of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed. Terry Gilliam recorded their excellent audio tour, and if you want you can listen to him explaining which scenes were filmed where.

The castle was built by Robert Stuart, the Duke of Albany (1340-1420), incorporating some parts of an earlier castle dating to the thirteenth century. Albany was the son of King Robert II, and though he was never actually king he was the most powerful man in Scotland from 1388 until his death. He served as regent for many years, first for his elderly father and then for his nephew when that unfortunate man, James I, was a prisoner in England. Above, two views of the hall tower. The projecting stones suggest that Albany had planned to extend the castle's buildings in this direction, but ran out of either time or money.

The hall.

The servery and the kitchen; food was passed from the kitchen through these arches to the hall servants.

The gate tower, where the Duke's private chambers were. James I had a sneaking suspicion that instead of trying to bring him home, Albany was actually bribing the English to keep him imprisoned. He did not finally escape from his English imprisonment until after Albany's death. So he wreaked his vengeance on the Duke's family, executing his son and seizing all his lands, including this castle, which became a royal hunting lodge.

View from one of the castle windows.

View from the roof.

The castle was restored during the Victorian era, and it acquired some extraneous Victorian stuff. Sadly these delightful gargoyles were one of the Victorian additions.

I contemplate medieval life from the Duke's privy.

Doune is a fine castle, well worth a visit, and a perfect start to our Highland tour.


leif said...

two questions.

1) is the grated container in the shot labeled 'the hall' a central fireplace?

2) does (or did) the privy empty out down an outside wall?

John said...

Yes, that's a fire basket.

No, that privy is in an interior wall.