Category Archives: Scotland

Linlithgow Palace

With Linlithgow Palace I will finish the posts about what we’ve visited in Scotland. We’ve picked Linlithgow Palace because it was one of the filming locations of Outlander. It’s a beautiful place to visit even if you are not a fan of the show. Linlithgow is also the place where Mary Queen of Scots was born and there is a statue of her near the entrance in the palace. Near the palace is a 15th-century parish church of St Michael and it can be visited too. We could only have a look, as it was closing.

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Linlithgow Palace is only 15 miles from Edinburgh and it has been a royal residence in the 15th and 16th century. Sadly, it burned down during the Jacobite rebellion and not because of the battles, but because a fire was left unattended, in 1745.

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Edinburgh Castle

We couldn’t go to Edinburgh and not visit Edinburgh Castle. The castle is managed by Historic Scotland. If you are a member of English Heritage, you can have discounted or free entry, depending on how long you’ve been a member.

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On the site there were signs that it was lived from the Iron Age. In 100AD it was a fort. The first recordings of the castle were in the 12th century. It was a Royal residence until 1633. Research made recently, in 2014 identified that the castle had 26 sieges during its 1100-year-old history. This makes Edinburgh Castle “the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world”. On the grounds of the castle it’s a St Margaret’s Chapel built in 1130s and that makes it Edinburgh’s oldest building. The Chapel can be visited. Due to its small size and a lot of visitors, I don’t have clear pictures of it.
On the website of the Historic Scotland there is a very interesting timeline with lots of details about the castle.

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This is the statue of Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig. It was praised for his actions in the Battle of the Somme, but now the decisions taken at that time are questioned. The statue is in front of the National War Museum.

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Gladstone’s Land, one of the oldest buildings in the Royal Mile

As I wrote in the title, Gladstone’s Land is one of the oldest buildings in the Royal Mile, Edinburgh. Gladstone’s Land was the house of a wealthy merchant and landlord and it shows how the rich used to live in the 17th century. The house has 6 rooms across two floors and it’s authentically restored.

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Thomas Gledstanes, the one that lived here, was a merchant. He was trading in vinegar, honey, prunes and iron pots in early 17th century. By 1617 he earned enough money to be able to invest in the property. This house is now one of Edinburgh’s few surviving six-storey 17th-century tenement buildings. The house was built 70 years before Gledstanes bought it. He extended the house toward the street and that was a good idea as it attracted important tenants, like titled gentleman and a minister. These tenants were sharing the stairwell with a tavern owner and other merchants.

The house was derelict and scheduled for demolition when National Trust for Scotland purchase it in 1934. It was restored to how it would have looked like in its heyday.

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St. Giles’ Cathedral

St. Giles’ Cathedral is in Edinburgh, city centre, only a few minutes from Edinburgh castle. It’s quite small for a cathedral, but it looks lovely and it’s free to visit. Only for taking pictures is a £2 fee. St Giles’ Cathedral dates back to the 12th century. The legend of St. Giles is that he was living as a hermit in French forests with a tame deer as companion. The King of the Visigoths, out hunting, shot at the deer. Giles protected the deer and had his hand wounded by the arrow. The King admired him and talked with him for many times. He persuaded Giles to become abbot of a new monastery. Giles was subsequently canonised.

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Is believed the first small church was burned by the English armies in 1322. After that it was rebuilt in the Gothic style and much bigger. More chapels were added in the next 150 years. St Giles’ becomes a collegiate church in the 15th century and remains one until the Reformation. In August 1560, Scotland became officially Protestant.

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Mary Queen of Scots was catholic, as her parents and didn’t attend services at St. Giles’. After her abdication, her illegitimate half-brother, James Stewart governed Scotland until he was assassinated in Linlithgow in 1570 and he is buried at St. Giles. Mary’s son, King James VI attended services in St Giles’ and he was often interrupting the sermon to argue with the Minister over points of theology. This happened until 1603 when James inherited the throne of England too and moved to London.

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Charles I tried to impose an English-style prayer book and that lead to a riot at St. Giles in the 17th century. In 1911 the Thistle Chapel was completed and it was used by the Knights of the Thistle, Scotland’s order of chivalry.

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Preston Mill

On our trip to Edinburgh we’ve been to Preston Mill, it’s relatively close and it’s one of the filming locations of the Outlander. Preston Mill is part of the National Trust for Scotland and it’s a gorgeous location. The house has an interesting shape, it looks more like a hobbit house than a mill. The mill is closed for Winter, so we weren’t able to visit it properly, only the outside. I will love to visit it again, to see how they were milling. The mill was used commercially until 1959. On their website is mentioned that visitors can still experience the working machinery on a tour today. I bought flour milled at heritage mills and it’s lovely. The price is good too, considering it’s organic wholemeal flour. The mill works, but they don’t grind flour for selling. I would say that is unfortunate.

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There was a mill on that site from the 16th century. This one was made in the 18th century, as many mills are. The water mill is on the River Tyne. The mill wheel dates back to 1909.

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I never saw a mill house like this one and I think it’s fascinating. I saw on a website that the mill looks more like traditional Dutch mills of that period. Despite its size, the mill is on two floors.

During the summer there are guided tours that last for 40 minutes.

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Scottish National Gallery

I had Scottish National Gallery on my list of things to see in Edinburgh and we’ve decided it was the first thing we’ve been to on our trip to Scotland. The admission to the museum is free and it’s located in the city centre. The museum is quite big and there are beautiful painting and sculptures on display.

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The museum first opened to the public in 1859. Prince Albert laid the foundation stone for the building that houses the museum. In 20th century more galleries were built in the basement.

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On the floor is an Italian marriage chest from the early 16th century. Is made from walnut wood and it’s decorated with sirens. There are a few chests in the museum and all look amazing, the craftsmanship is truly amazing.

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Bust of Duc d’Orleans, Regent of France, made in 1720, a few years before his death.

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Blackness Castle

My husband and I went to Blackness Castle twice, as the first time it wasn’t opened to the public. On the first day we had amazing weather, on the second day it was cloudy and the pictures aren’t as beautiful as the first ones. Blackness castle is one of the filming locations of Outlander, but it’s a castle has its own interesting history.

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The castle is named “the ship that never sailed” due to its shape. Built in the 15th century as a royal castle, it become during the time, a garrison fortress, a state prison and an ammunition depot in 19th century. After WWI, the castle was decommissioned and made into a visitor attraction.

During the reign of the English Henry VIII, James V transformed the castle into a garrison fortress. It was successful until the 17th century, when 1650 when Oliver Cromwell’s heavy guns devastated the defences. 20 years later the castle was a state prison. Some of the prisoners were treated more as quests, they had their quarters, their families and a few servants too. During the day they were able to walk in the gardens and do their business, but confined in their rooms at night and unable to leave.

Blackness Castle

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