Tantallon Castle

  Tantallon Castle. Professor Richard Oram. In the middle of the fourteenth century, William, 1st earl of Douglas, started to build a great new castle for himself on a windswept coastal headland on the north-east knuckle of East Lothian. His castle, Tantallon, was intended from the outset to be a potent symbol of the power…

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Dunfermline Palace

Dunfermline Palace. Professor Richard Oram. To the south-west of the abbey at Dunfermline and connected to its refectory block by the inner gate tower rises a long, tall building that stands on the brink of the gorge of the Pittencrieff Burn. Few visitors pay it much attention, for what remains is principally its southern wall…

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Perth’s Lost Castle

Perth’s Lost Castle. Professor Richard Oram. People in Perth today often bemoan the fact that, unlike Edinburgh or Stirling, it has no medieval royal castle that might act as a draw for tourists. Medieval urban castles are actually a rarity in Scotland, with most of the original twelfth-century ones having been destroyed during the Wars…

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St. Mary’s Chapel

St. Mary’s Chapel. Professor Richard Oram. A late seventeenth-century engraving of Perth from Bridgend shows the outline of an assuming building standing gable-end on to the River Tay at the east end of the High Street, at the point where the medieval bridge across the river had stood until the early 1600s. The engraving is…

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Methven Castle and Collegiate Church

Methven Castle and Collegiate Church. Professor Richard Oram. In the third week of February 1437, ‘that old serpent and ancient of evil days’, Walter Stewart, earl of Atholl, James’s last surviving uncle, was probably deep in council with his fellow conspirators in his castle at Methven, just 10km west of Perth. It was likely here…

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The Bass Rock

The Bass Rock. Professor Richard Oram. This bleak island fortress – now best known as home to the biggest colony of gannets in the world – stands at the outer limits of the Firth of Forth off the East Lothian coast. A place where early Christian hermits had once found isolation from the temptations of…

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