27 March 2010

Craigmillar Castle, Pt. 2

Two weekends ago, Nana and I strolled over to nearby Craigmillar Castle to have a look around.

Craigmillar Castle was built in several stages. The first stage is also the innermost: a typical medieval tower house dating from the late 14th century, one of many examples of the type that still survive today.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, the tower house was expanded, more for comfort than for defense. The owners added two residential wings in the Renaissance style, a family chapel, and two sets of walls creating an inner and an outer courtyard. Today, the inner courtyard features two beautiful yew trees.

You can see from this shot how the residential areas of the castle are both lower and, architecturally, more ornate.

The castle is only three miles from Edinburgh Castle; Edinburgh Castle, Arthur's Seat, and Craigmillar Castle are all visible from one another, though Craigmillar kind of blends in with the surroundings, and of course Edinburgh isn't visible from Craigmillar if there's any kind of weather, which is pretty much all the time. (But not during our visit!)

Craigmillar's proximity to Edinburgh meant that Craigmillar had an important part to play in the Rough Wooing, a splendidly named sixteenth-century war between England and Scotland over who would marry the infant Mary, Queen of Scots. (The Rough Wooing was actually named centuries later by, you guessed it, Sir Walter Scott. Man, you just can't get away from that guy!)

In fact, Craigmillar would play an important role later in Mary's life, too. After the birth of her son, James VI of Scotland and I of England, Mary convalesced at Craigmillar, where she may or may not have hatched a plan to kill her husband, which involved both strangulation and an explosion!

Aside from its connection to Mary, Queen of Scots, Craigmillar Castle is also noteworthy for its remarkable standard of preservation. It's a fun place to explore, a tangle of unexpected passageways and curious rooms--and even curiouser visitors.

And, of course, Craigmillar has a prison, which means Nana was naturally thrown in jail.

Also--several latrines!

And, in the neighboring field, at least one Hieland Coo!

In short, Craigmillar gets our stamp of approval.

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