Page 1

Explore St Andrews’ siege tunnels Featuring CASTLE MINES ST RULE’S TOWER WEST PORT AND MORE



Abbey habits

Meet the Melrose volunteers


GREAT DAYS OUT TAKE A TRIP TO Bearsden Bath House Linlithgow Palace Iona Abbey Stirling Castle

Love and war How Scotland’s medieval queens endured as royals

Welcome to

HISTORIC SCOTLAND Winter weather can be unpredictable but there is no shortage of Historic Scotland sites to visit in rain, snow or sunshine. If you haven’t been to Edinburgh or Stirling Castle for a while, it’s a great time of year to see their spectacular interiors and also enjoy a range of seasonal events including Christmas lunches. For more information, see page 51. Bad weather days can be great for exploring some of our town-based sites. In this issue, Kathleen Nutt and her family head to St Andrews – they explore the mines under the castle, climb St Rule’s Tower and much more. See page 32. As the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology draws to a close, we reflect on what has been a big year for the organisation. The Engine Shed, Scotland’s building conservation centre, opened its doors in July; Bloody Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland’s first fiction book, was released; Spectacular Jousting returned to Caerlaverock Castle, and both History Live and Heritage Awareness Day offered huge opportunities to celebrate Scotland’s past. Read about these and some of our other highlights of the year on page 26.



CLAIRE BOWIE Membership and CRM Manager


Ring of Brodgar




... and Standing Stones of Stenness

AMY HAYES Deal or no deal (p18) Roving steward with Historic Environment Scotland, Amy recently completed her PhD in medieval Scottish history

INDIRA MANN We’ve got the abbey habit (p40) A former archaeologist, Indira is a journalist with a lifelong love of Scotland’s castles

KATHLEEN NUTT Tunnel vision (p32) A freelance journalist based in Glasgow, Kathleen writes primarily for The Herald, The National and The Times

Orkney winter walks Join two ranger-guided walks this winter to blow away the cobwebs and get to the heart of Neolithic Orkney. Go to page 52 for details or visit



HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT SCOTLAND Longmore House, Salisbury Place, Edinburgh EH9 1SH 0131 668 8600 Membership enquiries 0131 668 8999 Editorial enquiries Membership and CRM Manager Claire Bowie Assistant Membership Manager Pauline Brews Membership Co-ordinator Katie Mathers Editor Fiona McKinlay Assistant Editor Jonathan McIntosh Design Matthew Ball, Andrew Bell, Alistair McGown Sub-editor Sam Bartlett Advertising Sales Sophie Marcuccilli 0203 771 7229 Publisher John Innes Think Suite 2.3, Red Tree Business Suites, 33 Dalmarnock Road, Glasgow G40 4LA 0141 375 0504 Photography All images provided by Historic Environment Scotland unless otherwise stated. For access to images of Scotland and our properties, call 0131 668 8647/8785 or email Historic Scotland is published quarterly and printed on paper made from pulp sourced from sustainable materials. The views expressed in the magazine do not necessarily reflect those of Historic Environment Scotland. All information is correct at the time of going to press. Š Historic Environment Scotland. All rights reserved. Reproduction in part or in whole is prohibited without prior agreement of the Membership and CRM Manager of Historic Environment Scotland.


Shiny abbey people Meet the volunteers who bring out the best in Melrose Abbey

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is a Non Departmental Public Body established by the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. HES has assumed the property, rights, liabilities and obligations of Historic Scotland and RCAHMS. Visit Scottish Charity No. SC045925.

32 Explore St Andrews’ mines, towers and more 2 HISTORIC SCOTLAND

18 Teen queen

Where to go this winter MAESHOWE CHAMBERED CAIRN P28





4 THE SCRIPT News and updates from around the country 45 MEMBERSHIP 50 EVENTS 56 TIME TRIP FEATURES


18 DEAL OR NO DEAL Pre-marital agreements made by four Scottish queens and how they endured as royals 26 MAKING HISTORY Highlights of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 32 TUNNEL VISION Kathleen Nutt explores the sights of St Andrews 40 WE’VE GOT THE ABBEY HABIT Indira Mann meets volunteers at Melrose Abbey and finds out what motivates them

50 Seasonal events including a very Victorian Christmas

26 St Columba’s cell and other highlights of the year HISTORICENVIRONMENT.SCOT 3





An artist’s impression of the projections

Countdown to Christmas Festive images from HES archives to be projected on to General Register House

A festive archive image from The Scotsman 4 HISTORIC SCOTLAND


istoric Environment Scotland (HES) has teamed up with Underbelly, organisers of Edinburgh’s Christmas, and Double Take

Projections to create Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar, which will see images from its archives projected onto General Register House from 5pm to

10pm every day from Friday 1 December to Monday 25 December. Each day will feature a particular year and showcase rare archive images of Edinburgh’s history and its winters from years gone by – helping shoppers top up on their festive spirit as the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology draws to a close. Exactly what will feature in the calendar remains top secret until the big reveal on 1 December but images selected include Victorian and

Winter and festive scenes will feature in the giant advent calendar


SEE THE DIGITAL ADVENT CALENDAR Images will be projected on to General Register House, Princes St, Edinburgh from 1–25 December

Edwardian photographs, architects’ drawings and aerial imagery from the HES archives. Graphic design and local press photography held in SCRAN, the Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network, have also been selected. “We’re delighted to be a lead partner working with Underbelly on this year’s festive celebrations in the capital,” says Neil Gregory, deputy head of engagement at HES. “We’ve been working with them and Double Take

Projections to provide a huge gift box of images from our holdings. It’s a great way for us to wish visitors to the city centre a very happy Christmas”. Other highlights of Edinburgh’s Christmas include open days at John Sinclair House, home to the HES archives, and Trinity House in Leith, plus an ice museum of life-sized sculptures and much more. Find out more

More festive fun HAVE CHRISTMAS LUNCH IN STATELY SURROUNDINGS Enjoy a three-course lunch at either Edinburgh or Stirling Castle.


GO ON A SHOPPING SPREE AT STIRLING CASTLE The annual Christmas shop returns with Scottish brands and local crafts.

SEE A CHRISTMAS CAROL Watch a fun and exciting adaptation of the Dickens classic at Stirling Castle.


For more on these and other events, see page 50.


Shop ‘til you drop in Stirling



Archive services pass muster

ACCREDITATION GAINED HES has achieved two new important accolades – archive service accreditation and museum accreditation – recognising the organisation’s excellent work. Find out more on pages 30 and 44.

Sign language success Castle tour for deaf people gets thumbs up


hree groups were taken around Edinburgh Castle on an official day of tours led using British Sign Language (BSL) in September. Guided by co-founder of the British Deaf History Society, John Hay MBE, the tour covered the history of the castle and also gave attention to its many interesting visual elements. Further tours are planned for 2018 with details to be confirmed. “These tours play an important role in ensuring Scotland's

history is accessible for everyone, including deaf people,” Hay explained. “Normally deaf visitors to Historic Scotland properties and other places of interest tend to rely on guide books, leaflets and display posters, but never guided tours – they often struggle to lip read guides, however clearly they speak. With this new initiative, deaf visitors can enjoy information relayed in BSL, their first language, in the same manner as other visitors.”

John Hay MBE points out a feature of Edinburgh Castle during a tour

See the light on Orkney


Exclusive Canmore discount

For three weeks either side of the winter solstice, the setting sun shines directly into Maeshowe Chambered Cairn, illuminating its interior. If you can’t witness the phenomenon first hand, you may be able to view it online at

Members can save 20% when ordering images online Canmore, the National Record of the Historic Environment, holds more than 320,000 records for buildings, archaeological sites and industrial heritage across Scotland. The collection includes aerial photographs, architectural drawings and stunning pictures from Scotland’s past. Historic Scotland members can take advantage of a 20% discount on prints and high-resolution digital images on online orders until 31 March


Winter’s coming, so be prepared

PLAN AHEAD 2018. The offer applies to orders for personal use only. Visit and enter the discount code HES1117 at the checkout

An aerial view of the Queensferry Crossing during construction

Members are reminded that some properties close or operate reduced hours in winter, so check the website or your handbook before setting off. Unplanned closures will be listed at closures or search Twitter for #hsclosure


Pure dead brilliant Author Christopher Brookmyre reveals the inspiration behind his contribution to Historic Environment Scotland’s first fiction book, Bloody Scotland


hristopher Brookmyre is one of 12 Scottish writers who have contributed to Bloody Scotland – a compilation of short stories, and a first foray into fiction publishing for Historic Environment Scotland. On Thursday 23 November he will be joined by fellow contributors Val McDermid, Lin Anderson and Doug Johnstone at Crime and Place: Bloody Scotland Authors in Conversation, an event taking place at Stirling Castle. We caught up with him to find out more about his story and why he thinks Scottish crime fiction is in a league of its own. Tell us about your story, The Last Siege of Bothwell Castle.

It’s about a modern-day hostage situation that develops at the castle during a busy bank holiday weekend. I’m struck by how often the property was besieged and changed hands over the

centuries, so the hostage situation felt an appropriate 21st-century equivalent of a siege. Living in Bothwell, I walk to the castle a lot and I’ve always thought there’s so much potential for a story with it at the centre. When I was approached for the Bloody Scotland anthology I jumped at the chance. What do you think it is that makes Scotland’s built heritage so evocative?

I think it’s the sense of history you experience visiting a building that has witnessed centuries of incident. You’re standing where people watched important moments play out and I can’t help but put myself in their shoes. You’re connected to history in a way you can’t get from a book or museum, and your imagination can run wild. I wanted to write a story that showed modern society’s relationship with history

Crime and Place The Bloody Scotland Authors in Conversation event will be held in Stirling Castle’s Great Hall on Thursday 23 November. Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. There will be a chance for authors to answer questions from the audience and for attendees to get their copies of the book signed. A limited number of tickets are available from priced £14.40 (members), £16 (non-member)

and the importance of preserving properties such as Bothwell Castle. What do you think distinguishes Scottish crime fiction from its contemporaries?

It confronts societal issues in an unflinching manner that other crime traditions don’t. Scottish crime fiction is always examining society, and most good crime fiction should. Bloody Scotland gives readers a taster of the many different styles of Tartan Noir. It’s very much a who’s who of the best of Scottish crime writing just now. How did it feel to win the McIlvanney Prize 2016 for your book, Black Widow?

William McIlvanney inspired me to write crime fiction so I was delighted. I started reading his books while living in London in the early 1990s, when crime fiction was associated with genteel English murder

Bothwell Castle, scene of Christopher Brookmyre’s short story and, above, Val McDermid and Denise Mina, fellow contributors to Bloody Scotland at an event in Stirling

The military drill halls in Blair Atholl, left, and at Geilston in Cardross

mysteries and American hardboiled. It was inspiring to see compelling crime fiction that gave an unedited look at the realities of life in Glasgow, so to win the prize in the inaugural year of it being named after McIlvanney was a huge honour.

Military drill halls recognised Thirty-five Scottish military drill halls have been listed following a nationwide review to identify the halls constructed before 1918. The project, which commemorated the centenary of the First World War, revealed that

What can visitors expect at the Bloody Scotland author event on 23 November?

When I’m reading The Last Siege of Bothwell Castle expect a lot of swearing! Writing is an extremely solitary pursuit – so these public events offer the chance to connect with the audience and find out what they’re enthusiastic about.

of the 350 halls identified, around 180 are thought to survive. Although the vast majority of the drill halls are no longer in military use, the architectural and historic merit of the drill halls, including Blair Atholl and Geilston Hall, reveal

much about the country’s military history and the defensive tactics relied upon when the threat of invasion loomed large. Visit historicenvironment. scot/designations to download the military drill hall report

Safeguarding Linlithgow Palace’s stonework

The ornamental east entrance and, inset, one of its feature carvings

Conservation work at the site continues


Christopher Brookmyre’s latest book, Places in the Darkness, is out now

Stone conservators, assisted by a team of masons, are working to preserve the carved detail above the current south and original east entrances into Linlithgow Palace. The work includes consolidating the ornamental stonework, securing its elements in position, and pointing cracks that may have accelerated decay of the projecting stonework. Stone conservator Christa Gerdwilker added: “The birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots houses some of the finest carved detail of its time, with the grandiose 15th-century east entrance advertising the importance of the building from afar. Work

on the external aspect of the east entrance is being planned for next year.” Conservation, digital documentation and heritage teams collaborated on the project.




FORTH BRIDGE PLAQUE UNVEILED Transport minister Humza Yousaf unveiled a plaque to commemorate the Forth Bridge’s listing as a World Heritage Site. In 2015 the iconic cantilever bridge became the sixth Scottish landmark to receive this honour. “The plaque recognises the hard work of all those involved in obtaining UNESCO World Heritage status for the Forth Bridge,” said Yousaf. “With the recent opening of the Queensferry Crossing, the three bridges are connections to our past and future.”


LECTURES ONLINE The monthly lectures held at Longmore House throughout the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology are available to watch online. Find them on YouTube by searching for ‘A Journey Through Scotland’s Past’. The final two lectures take place on Thursday 16 November and Thursday 14 December at 6pm. Remaining tickets are available from events and the lectures will be broadcast live at HistoricEnvScotland

Give bats a break The winged mammals are vital to the country’s ecosystem, says Bob Tevendale As the guardian of bats at Historic Scotland properties I’m often asked why they’re so important. For a start, it’s not easy being a bat. Usually born in June, in their first two months bats will grow fur, almost double their weight and learn to fly. By November, they need to be able to hunt insects to ensure they put on enough weight to survive the colder months. At the onset of winter bats go into torpor, a semihibernation where the heart and breathing rates slow dramatically. This allows them to gain weight quickly while they sleep during the day. The bats will still come out to hunt on warmer nights. When the really cold weather arrives in January bats go into full hibernation, surviving on their fat reserves till spring. Disturbance is particularly dangerous at this time as re-awakenings can leave them with insufficient energy resources to survive. Bats became nocturnal to avoid birds of prey active during the day (owls being an obvious exception), while cats are among their most determined predators. The echolocation bats use to navigate requires excellent hearing, making them sensitive to loud noises – although they themselves emit very loud noises during echolocation. Consequently, they developed a technique to protect their hearing, which involves dislocating their hearing bones via a

Midge muncher: a common pipistrelle bat


Bob Tevendale

muscle in their ears, rendering them momentarily deaf. Despite the well-worn phrase ‘blind as a bat’, these mammals have very good eyesight. The brown longeared bat has big ears, which it uses to home in on perched moths, and large eyes, with which it can spot its prey. While bright lights help bats find food, they expose the mammals to predators so many will not leave or re-enter a roost if it is brightly lit. So why do bats need to be considered before we hold an event or repair a monument? They are the cornerstone of just about every ecosystem, and they eat midges in prodigious numbers. But more than that, sometimes they just need a break. Daubenton’s bats roost near Lochleven Castle; brown long-eared bats and pipistrelle reside at Clackmannan Tower and Dunfermline Abbey respectively.

FAST FACT The common pipistrelle is the smallest bat in Scotland



What do you say? Learn some key vocabulary for exploring castles, with Gaelic language and policy officer Ruairidh Graham





Rothesay Castle

Caisteal Bhaile Bhòid (Kashtyel Vala Vawj)



Drochaid-thogalach (Draw-chitch ho-galach)



Prìosan (Pree-san)


Great Hall

Talla Mòr (Tala More)



Cùirt-Lios (Coo-arsht leese)



Caibeal (Kabil)


Curtain Wall

Balla-cùirteir (Bala – koorsh-tar)



Dìg (Jeeg)


North-west Tower

Tùr an iar-Thuath (Toor an-eear hua)



Taigh-geata (Tie-geh-ta)


8 3

7 9 2 1

Count the rings on felled abbey giant Dryburgh tree section goes on display


section of a tree planted in the early 1800s by David Steuart Erskine, 11th Earl of Buchan, has been put on display at Dryburgh Abbey. The cedar of Lebanon was felled in 2015 because of a fungal infection and had reached an impressive height of more than 24 metres. District architect Peter Ranson said: “The installation of this tree section on the side of the shop at Dryburgh Abbey is the culmination of a project that started back in the summer of 2014 when the veteran cedar of Lebanon was found to be diseased.


“The tree was a risk to the monument and visitors, so reluctantly it was decided it must be felled as soon as possible. Once permissions had been sought and gained the tree was carefully felled so

The cedar of Lebanon cross section with its decorative brackets

that sections of the wood could be reused.” Tree surgeons provided parts of the cedar to GalGael, a charity that uses timber and craft skills to teach its clients work and social skills, while seeds were taken from the tree for planting at the abbey in the future. The cross section installed by the Dryburgh Abbey shop has been adapted for educational purposes. Decorative holding brackets feature footprint shapes of local wildlife including fallow deer, badgers, otters, and foxes. Visit Dryburgh Abbey dryburgh-abbey

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To book using your discount code HISCOT10 call the HISCOT booking hotline 0800 0355 108 or visit *All bookings are subject to Fred. Olsen’s (FOCL) standard terms & conditions, available on our website & on request. All prices quoted under the HISCOT readers discount offer are exclusive to qualifying members & their travelling companions only, members must quote their discount code at time of booking. Membership discounts cannot be applied retrospectively. Bookings must be made via the booking hotline number 0800 0355 108. Proof of membership will be required at the time of booking. Offers cannot be extended to any unrelated third party, are subject to availability & may be withdrawn or amended at any time without prior notice. From time to time FOCL may run special offers which cannot be combined with this discount, including selected group travel deals. All guests booked under this scheme are requested to refrain from disclosing the fare paid whilst on board. Offer is for fi rst-time cruisers with Fred. Olsen only. Fred. Olsen Oceans members are entitled to a 5% HISCOT discount subject to the same terms & conditions, to be applied after the standard Oceans discount, where applicable. In this instance, Oceans Terms & Conditions apply. This offer expires on the 31st August 2018. E&OE.


Bearsden Bath House These suburban remains offer a glimpse into the rhythm of daily life on the northernmost edge of the Roman Empire – in Glasgow

DID YOU KNOW? Artefacts from the site include a carved head believed to be of the Roman goddess of luck, Fortuna, a gaming board and a stone inscribed by the men of the Roman Army’s 20th Legion

1 CHANGING ROOM (APODYTERIUM) Located in the west side of the bath house (thermae), this was the main entrance, where visitors could store their belongings before bathing


10 COLD ROOM (FRIGIDARIUM) Visitors to the thermae would cool down here following trips to the caldarium and tepidarium

Bearsden Bath House

The bath house in the Glasgow suburb of Bearsden offers arguably the best example of preserved and visible Roman stone structures along the Antonine Wall. Built on the orders of Emperor Antoninus Pius in about AD 140, the Antonine Wall stretched 37 miles from

modern Bo’ness on the Firth of Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde. A symbol of power and authority, it was the most complex frontier built by the Roman army. The fort at Bearsden is thought to have housed up to 100 infantry and cavalrymen from Gaul (modern France). It

was one of 17 known forts along the wall, which provided accommodation and secure crossing points for some 7,000 legionnaires and auxiliary soldiers until it was abandoned in the AD 160s. Antiquarians had long known of the fort’s location, but the dramatic growth of

Bearsden after the arrival of a railway line from Glasgow in 1863 meant it was lost under a series of Victorian mansions. Demolition of the mansions in the 1970s revealed the Roman remains. A dig in 1973, led by Professor David Breeze, uncovered the ground plan of the fort. It is the only Antonine






The bath house is constructed in modernday Bearsden within the annexe of a Roman fortress along The Antonine Wall, which is built on the orders of Emperor Antoninus Pius

The Antonine Wall is abandoned by the Roman army

Antoninus Pius dies and is succeeded by Marcus Aurelius

The Roman occupation of Britain comes to an end, although trade with Britain continues

Mapmaker William Roy surveys the Antonine Wall




2 HOT DRY ROOM (LACONICUM/SUDATORIUM) The sweat room of the thermae, akin to a sauna

3 WARM ROOM (TEPIDARIUM) Where bathers first assembled prior to passing through the various hot and cold baths

4 HOT STEAM ROOM (CALDARIUM) The hottest room of the Roman bath complex, floor temperatures could reach up to 40°C, helping to open the pores of visitors

5 BOILER Hot water was piped from a boiler over the furnace

8 RAISED FLOOR (HYPOCAUST) Air heated by the furnace passed beneath raised floors and through cavity walls to heat the hot rooms

7 HOT BATH (ALVEUS) This room lay closest to the furnace and featured a hot plunge pool

9 COLD BATH (PISCINA) The plunge pool would be used to close the pores of visitors to the thermae

Wall fort to be extensively excavated since the Second World War, and uncovered two stone granaries (horrea) and at least five timber barracks or storage buildings. The remains of the bath house, in an annexe at the east end of the fort, were especially well preserved,

6 FURNACE (PRAEFURNIUM) Located at the east end of the bath house, the furnace warmed the rooms by way of an underfloor heating system

proving to be one of the best surviving examples of a bath house ever found in Scotland. In Roman society bath houses were hubs where people could relax and socialise. The Bearsden remains offer an intriguing insight into the daily lives of those stationed along the wall.







Bearsden grows after the arrival of a railway line from Glasgow. The annexe and bath house are lost beneath mansions built on the site

Work by the Ordnance Survey reveals traces of the fort’s south-western defences

The first section of the Antonine Wall receives scheduled monument status

Plans to build flats lead to the demolition of the Victorian mansions, revealing much of the Roman archaeological remains beneath

A major archaeological dig gets under way, uncovering the majority of the fort’s ground plan

The Antonine Wall is inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, becoming part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site


Eyes on the prize Test your historical knowledge by spotting which of our properties the detail above comes from… and win.

ANSWER THIS QUESTION Which Historic Scotland property is the detail above taken from? ●●Edinburgh Castle ●●Craigmillar Castle ●●Dirleton Castle

UP FOR GRABS The winning entrant will receive a hamper from M&S containing a selection of delicious treats including biscuits, preserves, chocolate truffles and a bottle of Bordeaux.

HOW TO ENTER Visit guesstheplace or post the answer with your name and membership number to Guess the Place, Historic Scotland magazine, Longmore House, Salisbury Place, Edinburgh EH9 1SH by Friday 12 January

HES masons during the repair work

Kinneil House’s old orchard wall rebuilt Decaying structure made safe using traditional techniques


wall enclosing Kinneil House’s old orchard has been repaired using traditional techniques after archaeological excavations revealed its crumbling condition. Restored as part of the Hot Mortar Mix Project, which aims to demonstrate the practicality and authenticity of using quicklime-based mortar, HES masons and

apprentices used the original stones and a hot lime mortar to help retain the character of the 30-metre long wall. District architect Peter Ranson said: “Repairs to the wall enclosing the former orchard to the north side of the drive had become necessary due to its potentially dangerous condition. Following below-ground archaeological excavations that revealed no exisiting

foundation for the wall the decision was taken to remove the nearby leylandi trees, take the wall down fully and rebuild it on a new foundation.”

The orchard wall before its restoration

Up for grabs Annual ticket giveaway approaches

Explore a castle for free on St Andrew’s Day weekend


Thousands of tickets are on offer as part of Historic Environment Scotland’s annual ticket giveaway over the St Andrew’s Day weekend of 25–26 November – so why not get your

friends and family involved in the fun? Non-members can claim free entry to properties. Advance booking is required. See for more information

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MARY OF GUELDERS c.1434-1463 Married James II in 1449

MARGARET OF DENMARK 1456-1486 Married James III in 1460


How medieval pre-nups shaped Scotland

When a Stewart king chose his bride, politics was far more important than love, writes historian Amy Hayes ILLUSTRATION BY MARTIN HARGREAVES


MARGARET TUDOR 1489-1541 Married James IV in 1503

MARY OF GUISE 1515-1560 Married James V in 1537


rom the 15th century, the Stewart kings of Scotland made a series of prestigious and clearly strategic marriages with European dynasties. Four brides of consecutive kings would strengthen their global reputation and shape the country’s future – but these were no fairy tale royal weddings. Romance was very rarely a priority for medieval royals – political necessity and finances were what determined suitable pairings. The Stewarts sought to assert their importance in Europe, and gain support against their auld enemy, England. The bride’s fate was often set by her parents before she’d even reached puberty, and she often wouldn’t meet her groom until they were already hitched. Proxy marriages were popular, where vows were exchanged with a king’s representative. Deals were made with European aristocracy for the hands of their daughters and a sort of medieval version of a pre-nupital agreement would be drawn up. Typically, each new queen would bring with her a dowry, a payment from her ‘old’ family to her husband. In exchange, she would be provided with a dower – essentially an insurance policy in case she outlived her husband. This could involve a lump sum of money, maybe a few castles ... Several Historic Scotland properties served as dower for Scotland’s queens, who left their own mark on the country’s built heritage through renovations and developments. HISTORICENVIRONMENT.SCOT 19

Linlithgow Palace, with the loch and fishing rights, and Stirling Castle, including income from the town’s customs and various lands. When James II died in 1460, killed by the backfiring of his own cannon at the siege of Roxburgh, Mary of Guelders became a substantial landholder, second only to her son, the infant James III. Although it is impossible to know

Mary of Guelders A sophisticate with an interest in gift-giving and military strategy


orn in around 1434 to Arnold, Duke of Guelders, and his wife Catherine, Mary was educated at the sophisticated court of her great-aunt Isabella, Duchess of Burgundy. She was married to James II in 1449 at the age of 16, with her dowry paid by her greatuncle, the Duke of Burgundy. In marrying Mary, James II gained connections not only with Guelders, a rich and powerful province in what is now the Netherlands, but the wealthy and influential court of Burgundy. After their marriage Mary and James often exchanged gifts with Burgundy, the most famous of which is the siege

cannon Mons Meg, sent to James by the duke in 1457 and still on display at Edinburgh Castle. With such connections Mary was worth the extensive dower provision of £6,000 Scots per year in the event of James’s death. The final ratification of Mary’s dower was made in parliament in 1451, granting the queen a vast swath of lands and properties including

Ravenscraig Castle, which Mary continued to enlarge after her husband’s death

The remains of Ravenscraig give a taste of its significance 20 HISTORIC SCOTLAND


whether Mary had influence over any works at properties such as Linlithgow, which was constructed by successive Stewart monarchs, the queen certainly spent time there, with her husband and alone. The palace provided the perfect retreat from the busy courts of Edinburgh and Stirling. Mary was interested in building, and continued Ravenscraig Castle after the death of her husband. Records show the transport of 40 wooden poles – probably ceiling joists – and a payment of £26, four shillings and seven pence to David Boys, the master builder at ‘Ravynnscrag’. Ravenscraig was built with artillery in mind. This, combined with Mary’s effective continuation of the siege of Roxburgh after James was killed, suggests she was militarily inclined.

Dower property Doune Castle

Margaret of Denmark Nordic bonne vivante whose legacy endures to this day


argaret was the daughter of Christian I of Denmark and his wife, Dorothea. Born in around 1456 Margaret was only 12 years old when she travelled to Scotland to marry James III. Margaret was given a huge dower, with lands and properties equal to a third of all crown property. This included Linlithgow Palace, Stirling Castle and Doune Castle, which were now probably seen as traditional dower properties. She was also given the barony of Kilmarnock to hold while the king was alive. The profits from the barony were to pay for Margaret’s gowns and the ‘ornaments of her head’. As might be expected, Margaret had expensive tastes, with records showing items of clothing and jewellery made for the queen. These included a jewelled hairnet set with great pearls, a ‘callare of gold with nyntene diamantis’, diamond and ruby rings, and, most personally, a small chain with diamonds set in the shape of an ‘M’ with a great pearl. Yet it is not what Margaret was given that left an enduring

Orkney: a wedding gift of sorts

mark on Scotland, but what her marriage gave to the country. Margaret’s father promised a large dowry of 60,000 Rhenish florins but he was unable to raise this amount of money. Instead, he pawned his rights to the islands of Orkney and Shetland to the Scottish crown until the full dowry could be paid. James III acted swiftly to assert his rights over the islands, with the Bishop’s Palace in Kirkwall becoming home to a succession of Scottish, rather than Nordic, churchmen. The Danish king never managed to pay his daughter’s dowry and so the marriage of Margaret of Denmark extended the borders of the Scottish kingdom to their most northerly point, and the islands still remain a part of Scotland. HISTORICENVIRONMENT.SCOT 21






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Margaret Tudor Unlucky in love, unlucky in legal and financial matters


orn in 1489, Margaret was 13 when she married James IV in 1503. The Scottish king was 30. The marriage of James and Margaret had been agreed in 1497 when the Tudor princess was nine. Her mother and grandmother refused to allow her to travel to Scotland until she was older out of concern that the ‘King of Scots would not wait [to consummate the marriage] but injure her, and endanger her health’. However, Margaret would not have her first child until the age of 17. Margaret was given a dower ‘in kind and extent to the gift of any queen of Scotland at any time in the past’. This meant that the properties in Margaret’s dower were similar to those of Margaret of Denmark and Mary of Guelders. The income from these lands would provide Margaret with an income of £6,000 Scots yearly in the event of James IV’s death. Until then, the king administered the lands on Margaret’s behalf, paid all of her household expenses, and provided her with an allowance of £1,000 Scots.

Like her predecessors Margaret spent time at Linlithgow Palace. James IV had remodelled the courtyard façade of the south range, originally constructed by James III, with elements of the English perpendicular style, perhaps to please his new English wife. Margaret’s only surviving son, the future James V, was born in Linlithgow Palace in 1512, and legend claims that Margaret waited in vain at the top of the north-west tower, now named ‘Queen Margaret’s Bower’, for her husband to return from Flodden the following year. In contrast to Mary of Guelders, who was able to claim the full extent of her dower after the death of James II, Margaret Tudor struggled to gain possession of her revenues. Although named governor of the kingdom on the death of James IV, she failed to command support, and her unpopular marriage to the Earl of Angus in 1514 meant that she lost her tenuous grip on power. This marriage rapidly turned sour, and Angus seized Margaret’s dower lands and revenues, at one point installing his

mistress, Lady Jane Stewart, in one of Margaret’s own houses. The queen was furious and fought Angus through the Scottish courts, to little avail. With no way to pay her expenses Margaret had to beg money from her brother, the English king Henry VIII, at one stage being forced to pawn the jewels he had given her. Money problems would haunt Margaret for the rest of her life, with her son, James V, having to buy her gowns so that she could meet his new queen, Mary of Guise, appropriately dressed.

Linlithgow Palace, where Margaret Tudor would give birth in 1512 to the future James V HISTORICENVIRONMENT.SCOT 23


Mary of Guise Competent leader whose character was forged in adversity


ary of Guise was the second wife of James V. His first, Madeleine of Valois, died only two months after her arrival in Scotland. Born in 1515 as the eldest daughter of Claude, Duke of Guise, Mary’s marriage to James was also her second. Her first husband, Louis, Duke of Longueville, died in June 1537 while Mary was pregnant with their second child. Mary gave birth to their son in August 1537 and within weeks was informed that she would be married to the king of Scots. This entailed leaving her country and two infant children behind to marry a man she had never met, while still in mourning for her first husband. There was little Mary could do in such a distressing situation, although she fought successfully to ensure that her dowry of 115,000 livres was not paid

from the Longueville lands as first proposed. This ensured that her son’s inheritance remained intact, and she left for Scotland in June 1538. Mary and James would have three children, but their only surviving child was Mary Queen of Scots, born six days before her father’s death in December 1542. Mary of Guise gave birth at Linlithgow Palace, a place she had described to be as fine as any castle in France. Within a few months she moved with her daughter to her dower property of Stirling Castle, which provided greater security. James V had ordered the construction of the magnificent palace there to impress his French queen, although it

was not completed by the time he died. Mary of Guise is one of the images depicted on the fascinating Stirling Heads, which adorned the ceiling of the palace. While Mary Queen of Scots departed for the safety of France and a betrothal to the French dauphin, her mother remained behind to act as regent in her daughter’s place. Mary of Guise would prove to be a competent leader, arguably keeping the increasingly fractured Scotland as a Catholic country until her death in 1560. She died at Edinburgh Castle, where her lead coffin remained in the Chapel of St Margaret for nine months before being taken to France, where she was buried in the Abbey Church of St Pierreles-Dames.

Safe haven: Mary of Guise’s dower property, Stirling Castle

Regal real estate Scotland’s queens were (mostly) powerful women, who possessed a fortune in the event that they outlived their husbands. Their dower properties were often similar, and routinely visited by them. So the next time you enjoy a Historic Scotland property you might well be walking in the footsteps of a queen. 24 HISTORIC SCOTLAND

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The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is drawing to an end. Take a look back at some of the year’s stand-out moments

Engine shed opens Stirling welcomes dedicated building conservation centre


The opening of the Engine Shed on 26 June signalled the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Scotland’s heritage sector. Based at the old Forthside military compound in Stirling, the £11 million Engine Shed aims to engage the next generation with Scotland’s 26 HISTORIC SCOTLAND

historic environment and will play a vital role in ensuring the knowledge, skills and materials are available to safeguard the country’s 450,000 traditional buildings. The centrepiece of the Engine Shed is a large-scale map of Scotland compiled from high-resolution

satellite images, from which visitors can access additional information using an iPad as an augmented reality device. With interactive exhibits, a 4K 3D auditorium and augmented reality experiences, The Engine Shed aims to spark the public’s passion and interest

with Scotland’s historic environment and inspire a new generation. The Engine Shed is open six days a week – Monday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm – and also hosts specialist events on conservation, traditional skills and more. For more information

Jousting returns to Caerlaverock Summer event comes back to the medieval stronghold


Spectacular Jousting returned to medieval stronghold Caerlaverock Castle for the first time in 10 years on 29 and 30 July. Visitors were treated to thrilling festivals of horsemanship, pageantry and music as a horde of historic characters battled to be crowned King’s Champion. Audiences met the knights and their steeds, learned about medieval life, tried their hand at archery and handled objects spanning more than 500 years of history. The event was a huge success, attracting more than 3,500 visitors, with 11,000 at Linlithgow a few weeks earlier. Latest events historicenvironment. scot/events

Ringing stone gets designated Musical marvel becomes scheduled monument The Ringing Stone on Tiree was recognised as an important landmark and granted listed status in 2017. Located on the island’s windswept north coast, the large boulder was scheduled as an important example of prehistoric rock art following a recommendation from a member of the public. By tradition, it has peculiar acoustic qualities. When struck, the stone emits a deep ringing sound, hence its name. Suggest a designation scheduled-monuments


One big weekend History Live takes over Stirling This festival in Stirling from 29 September to 1 October showcased Scotland’s diverse cultural heritage. Attendees were treated to a bonanza of activities – from the opening concert at the Church of the Holy Rude to weapons displays, archery sessions and Gaelic singing. What did you miss?




Outlander fever sweeps the nation Blackness Castle and Clava Cairns among properties enjoying popularity boost


Thanks to the international success of the Outlander TV series based on Diana Gabaldon’s novels, properties across the

country have reported a significant surge in visitors. Blackness Castle, which cameos as Fort William in the time-travelling fantasy, has witnessed the largest rise in visitor numbers of properties that appear in the show, having enjoyed a 72% increase

between April 1 and June 25 in comparison with the same period in 2016. Doune Castle, which stars as Castle Leoch, the fictional seat of Clan MacKenzie, also had a 50% increase during this time, and Aberdour Castle, which doubles as Sainte Anne de

Beaupré’s monastery, recorded a 58% rise. Linlithgow Palace (Wentworth Prison in the show) was up 43% and Glasgow Cathedral (L’Hôpital des Anges) up 39%. Outlander map outlander

Celebrating heritage Local projects take centre stage For the inaugural Heritage Awareness Day on 6 October, people were encouraged to come face to face with the history on their doorstep. From local heritage projects and themed community events to schoolchildren dressing up as their favourite historical characters to fundraise for local projects, citizens explored their heritage.



Maeshowe app launched Explore Orkney landmark on your smartphone A new mobile app enabling people across the world to explore one of Europe’s finest chambered tombs, Maeshowe in Orkney, was released this summer. This cutting-edge technology, entitled Explore Maeshowe, allows audiences


to explore the historic site, which is a masterpiece of Neolithic design and construction and part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, in high definition 3D. The app is available on iOS and Android devices. Download it maeshowe

Edinburgh Castle inspires design of exclusive tweed Edinburgh Castle reveals new fashion line Edinburgh Castle made a foray into the fashion world in summer with the launch of its exclusive tweed collection. Handcrafted by Knockando Woolmill, the design of the tweed was influenced by the landscape and history of Edinburgh as well as key parts of the


castle. The 11-piece collection includes staple pieces and homeware items, from long scarves, tote bags and tweed holdalls to throws, wallets and teddy bears – ideal for shoppers who want to take a piece of Scotland’s heritage home with them. Buy now shop

Treasures head to China Romantic Scotland exhibition takes collections around the globe Curated in partnership with HES, the National Galleries of Scotland, Nomad Exhibitions and Nanjing Museum – one of the largest cultural institutions in China – nearly 100 objects, paintings, photographs and other treasures were flown more than 5,000 miles to feature in the Romantic


Scotland exhibition in Nanjing Museum. Running from 28 April to 28 July, the exhibition explored how Scottish Romanticism transformed the country’s art, literature and national identity and aimed to draw Scotland and China closer together by strengthening their cultural connections. On its opening day, more than 72,000 visited the museum.

Walking the Jacobite Trail Visitors follow footsteps of Bonnie Prince Charlie A trail of 25 locations throughout the country charting the rise and demise of the ‘Young Pretender’ and the Jacobites was created in partnership with HES, National Museums Scotland, Royal Collection Trust and The National Trust for Scotland. The trail allows its followers to get to the heart of one of the


most complex, enduring and tragic periods of Scottish history, including Fort George, near Inverness, which was established in the aftermath of the final Jacobite Rising at Culloden Moor in 1746, Kildrummy Castle and Dumbarton Castle. A huge exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland also shone a light on the Jacobites story. Follow the trail

Fiction first Crime anthology released HES published its first fiction book this year – Bloody Scotland. Find out more about the book, its contributors and the launch event at Stirling Castle on page 8. Buy it historicenvironment. scot/shop



Seal of approval for archives Accreditation received for museums and collections HES’s archives became one of only seven in Scotland to achieve Archive Service Accreditation, a process that acknowledges organisations that provide a high level of service to users, preserve collections in line with UK standards


and who are committed to sustainable services and ongoing improvement. The archive, containing historic photographs, architects’ drawings, archaeological surveys and more, was commended for its impressive delivery, particularly in developing its digital offer and opening up the collections to the public. The organisation was also awarded Full Accreditation status under the prestigious UK-wide Museum Accreditation Scheme. For more, see page 44. Explore the collections archives-and-research

40 Years of junior guides Linlithgow Palace scheme marks its 40th anniversary Guides past and present shared their stories at a special event to mark 40 years since the junior guides programme at Linlithgow Palace was introduced. Pupils from Linlithgow Primary School have been getting in costume and taking visitors around the palace since 1977. The success of the scheme has since led to similar programmes at Doune Castle, Trinity House, Melrose Abbey and elsewhere. Visit the palace historicenvironment. scot/linlithgow-palace



See Mary’s handiwork Edinburgh Castle unveils a royal ‘hanging’ Produced by 33 stitchers, a replica of a hanging embroidered by Mary Queen of Scots was unveiled earlier this year in the Royal Apartment at Edinburgh Castle. See it


Structure confirmed as St Columba’s writing hut Team finds conclusive evidence at Iona monastery During a project funded by HES, archaeologists from the University of Glasgow uncovered conclusive evidence that a wooden hut traditionally associated with St Columba at the Iona monastery dates to his lifetime in the late 6th century.


The samples of hazel were preserved in matchboxes in the garage of Professor Charles Thomas – who excavated the Tòrr an Aba structure in 1957 – until they were given to HES in 2012. Carbon dating confirmed the samples to be consistent with Columba’s presence on Iona in the 6th century and are compelling evidence this was Columba’s writing hut.

St Columba is widely revered as a key figure in bringing Christianity to Scotland from Ireland after landing on Iona in AD563. In the ‘Life of St Columba’, written 100 years after his death by his successor Adomnán, he described Columba writing in his cell on a rocky hillock, called Tòrr an Aba or ‘the mound of the abbot’, within the monastery

looking out his door towards the mountains of Mull. As well as reopening some of the 60-year-old trenches to look for more dating material, Dr Ewan Campbell and Dr Adrian Maldonado from the University of Glasgow are writing up Thomas’s personal archive. Visit Iona Abbey iona-abbey

Dr Campbell re-excavating Thomas’s trenches

Year of Young People 2018

Survey to shape future More than 2000 people make their voice heard HES asked the Scottish people to reveal the special places in their communities to find out how it could help recognise


Time to focus on the young achievers The Year of Young People 2018 is an opportunity to celebrate the amazing young personalities, talents and achievers in Scotland. It’s all about inspiring the nation through the ideas,

LOOKING AHEAD attitudes and ambitions of its young people. Historic Environment Scotland will be holding a range of special events and embarking on projects that celebrate and involve young people. Find out more

them. Results of the survey will help shape how Scotland’s heritage is recognised and managed in the future. Read all about it whatsyourheritage HISTORICENVIRONMENT.SCOT 31

St Andrews, Fife



Medieval passages beneath St Andrews Castle ignite the imagination as Kathleen Nutt begins a journey ending with an impressive cathedral


St Andrews Cathedral, dedicated in the presence of King Robert the Bruce

idden under St Andrews Castle are two tunnels that must be among the most fascinating structures from Scotland’s medieval past. Although they are well known by historians and archaeologists I had not heard of them until a visit to the Fife town with my family one sunny Saturday. For us – well, for four of the five of us – these underground tunnels or mines bring excitement and a sense of adventure to our day out. St Andrews Cathedral and Castle are situated close to each other on a rocky headland overlooking St Andrews Bay. Once Scotland’s most important church, work on the cathedral

began in 1160, and it took more than a century to build. Marking its significance, it was dedicated in 1318 in the presence of King Robert the Bruce. The castle was built to accommodate the cathedral’s bishops – and later, it’s archbishops – and it is there we begin our visit. After walking around the courtyard and exploring the kitchen and storerooms, we investigate the most infamous part of the castle, its “bottle dungeon”. It’s essentially a cave cut out of the rock under the castle’s sea tower. Prisoners would be lowered down its narrow neck to languish in the wider cavern base. With a sense of the castle’s grim past we go on to explore the tunnels.





ntrance to these underground mines is through a small opening to the east of the main castle gate. Here. my 10-year-old daughter Genevieve baulks and decides that climbing into a dark hole is not for her. But the rest of us, husband Colin and five-year-old twins Freya and Alex, go on while Genevieve climbs down steps to the beach at the foot of the castle. The mine and countermine were built while the castle was under siege following the murder in 1546 of Cardinal David Beaton, then Archbishop of St Andrews. Beaton was the most powerful Scottish churchman of the 16th century, but he did much to engender opposition, including the burning at the stake of George Wishart, a Protestant preacher spreading Reformation ideas. Unrest over Freya in the grisly public execution of Wishart at one of the the front of the castle fomented and a castle tunnels group of lairds managed to sneak into the building, overcoming Beaton’s guards and stabbing the cardinal to death. Beaton’s murder prompted the Earl of Arran, then Regent of Scotland, wondering whether the roof of the governing on behalf of the child Mary tunnel would hold up or whether you’d Queen of Scots, to lay siege to the castle end up buried in a heap of rocks – never and between 1546 and 1547 his forces mind the prospect of the fight that lay dug a tunnel underneath the building in ahead when the enemy was discovered. a bid to retake the fortress. But the plan The castle’s soldiers started and failed after the sound of the tunnellers abandoned digging two mines before was detected by the besieged rebels, they correctly identified where the who dug a countermine to intercept the attackers were tunnelling. And even on first tunnel. Climbing into the tunnel we set foot in their third successful attempt there is a side chamber which they dug out before the defenders’ passage. Although now realising they had gone the wrong way. lit by electric lights, apart from that it’s After clambering along the tunnel for probably no different to how it was several minutes we come to the point 450 years ago. It stands barely three and where the defenders’ tunnel and half feet high and around four feet wide, attackers’ tunnel meet. Here we stop and is cold and damp. Freya and Alex walk on fairly happily, but Colin and I make slower progress, hunched and holding on to Kathleen either side of the tunnel wall. and Freya Pickaxe marks from the at the castle soldiers’ desperate digging can be seen on the hard rocks’ surfaces. I can only imagine it must have been hellish, frantically digging away trying to find the attackers’ mine and


briefly to imagine the fighting that took place. It’s an eerie place where many poor souls must have met violent ends. Following a pause we climb a ladder taking us into the attackers’ mine. It’s a much more carefully built structure. It’s considerably higher and wider than the defenders’ mine – we can all stand up – and has neatly cut steps dug out from the hard rock. The attackers had time on their side and weren’t in such a desperate hurry as the soldiers defending the castle. While the countermine succeeded in holding off the attack, the Earl of Arran eventually did take the castle, with the aid of ships sent by the French king, which bombarded the stronghold, in 1547. Cardinal Beaton was then succeeded by John Hamilton, a new archbishop. But Hamilton took over at a time of declining Catholic influence and, after Scotland became officially Protestant in 1560, the castle and cathedral were ransacked and Hamilton fled.


I can only imagine it must have been a hellish experience, frantically digging away

The cathedral is believed to have housed relics of Scotland’s patron saint



aving spent most of the morning at the castle, we pull ourselves away to visit the cathedral. Walking around its walls and towers our first impression is just how huge the building would have been. Standing at 391 feet long, 168 feet wide and 100 feet high, it was in fact the largest church ever built in Scotland. Much of the site is now is ruins but some areas survive, including the east gable of the presbytery, which once housed the relics of St Andrew. That a small receptacle kept here for hundreds of years contained, it is believed, a finger bone, kneecap and a tooth belonging to Scotland’s patron saint and one of Christ’s first disciples underlines the site’s religious importance. The relics were destroyed during the Reformation but the spot where they were kept is marked for visitors. The cathedral’s steward, Sophie, gives the children quiz sheets and completing the answers helps to focus their attention, while sitting on the chapter house’s well-preserved stone seats.

Alex, Genevieve and Freya find the wellpreserved stone seats an ideal place to concentrate

Left: the impressive remains of what was the largest church ever built in Scotland




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The spectacular view over St Andrews from the top of St Rule’s Tower

St Rule’s Tower

St Rule’s Tower




fter a short break we head to St Rule’s Tower. The 100-foot high tower is all that remains of St Rule’s Church, which it is believed dates back to 1123. According to the Historic Scotland guidebook, the tower would have served as a beacon for pilgrims heading to the shrine of St Andrew, and the church continued to be used after the cathedral was built. The tower is among the bestpreserved parts of the cathedral precinct and visitors can still climb to the top. But with 160 narrow, spiralling steps to climb I head up by myself – to be rewarded with spectacular views across the cathedral, castle and town on one side, and the harbour, sea and beaches on another. While I visit the tower Colin and the children take a ramble through the vast graveyard that surrounds the cathedral and St Rule’s. Most of the 1,700 gravestones date from the post-Reformation period and include a bronze memorial statue to the golfer Tom Morris. Morris was born in St Andrews and died in the town aged just 24 in 1875, having won the Open

I am rewarded on one side with spectacular views over the castle, cathedral and town … Championship when he was 17 – the youngest player ever to do so. The grave of his father (‘Old Tom’), who died aged 86 in 1908, and was also a successful professional golfer, lies flat alongside.

Memorial statue of golfer ‘Young’ Tom Morris

There is much more to be seen around the cathedral, including the museum in the restored stone-vaulted undercrofts of the ruined residential buildings. On display are artefacts from the early medieval era to postReformation times, including an important example of late 8th or early 9th-century Pictish work known as the St Andrews Sarcophagus. It is the earliest sculpture surviving from St Andrews. HISTORICENVIRONMENT.SCOT 37

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The castle is perched on a rocky headland overlooking St Andrews Bay

Three of a kind

Blackfriars Chapel




fter the cathedral closes we visit three other Historic Scotland sites in the town. Just beyond the cathedral’s walls on a ledge above the sea, are the foundations of the church of St Mary on the Rock – now St Mary’s Church, Kirkheugh. Our guidebook says the cross-shaped church was probably built to house the successors of the Culdee foundation, a settlement of monks, who were displaced from the cathedral site. Leaving the cathedral and castle area we head up South Street to the remains of Blackfriars Chapel which stands on the edge of the busy thoroughfare. The Dominican friary, built in around 1516 and the chapel, which was added in the 1520s, were destroyed in 1559 by Protestant reformers. Further up the street we see the West Port, a grand entrance to the town, built in 1587 and a symbol of civic pride. It was close to dilapidation by the 1800s but was saved by renovation work in 1843. Before we head back home to Glasgow Alex is keen to return to the

Reformers destroyed the friary and most of the church in 1559

West Port

castle, but with the gates now closed we promise to do so another day. Later that evening, checking on the children tucked up asleep, I find a stack of the Horrible Histories books piled up beside their beds. Our visit to St Andrews has clearly made a big impression. HISTORICENVIRONMENT.SCOT 39

Melrose Abbey

We’ve got the abbey habit Joining a band of helpers who bring Melrose Abbey to life, Indira Mann gets a privileged glimpse of a site once beloved of King Robert the Bruce Photographs: Angela Catlin

Volunteer Nancy Hanretty shows the Kern family around the museum 40 HISTORIC SCOTLAND

BEHIND THE SCENES Melrose Abbey is enjoying a record-breaking year for visitors


he early-morning mist has barely lifted from the surrounding countryside when visitors begin to converge on the picturesque ruins of Melrose Abbey. Monument manager Joanne MacLeod welcomes me with a broad smile, while checking emails, organising her team and preparing the shop for what will soon be an unceasing flow of modern-day pilgrims. This season has been the busiest yet for Melrose Abbey, one of the top attractions in the Borders, and I’m here to spend the day with Joanne’s trusted band of volunteers. We walk to the bell tower, unbolting the door for the first wave of visitors, and climb to the top for a spectacular view of the abbey and its environs. The Cistercian order of monks, who founded the monastery here in the 1100s, knew how to pick a location. Among the Borders abbeys, Melrose was once one of the richest. It also has several unique details, helping to attract around 50,000 visitors every year.



From our eyrie I can see the famous gargoyle – the bagpipe-playing pig – a wonderful example of medieval humour, I’m told, and one of the biggest draws. Joanne also points out the four replica statues within niches in the high walls. I later see the medieval originals in the abbey’s museum. As we retrace our steps and head for the presbytery, where volunteer John Simpson is already in position, I ask Joanne why the volunteer programme, set up in 2016 as part of a national development pilot, is so important. “Volunteers bring that extra quality to people’s visits, while staff are busy keeping the property running smoothly,” she explains. “They provide one-to-one engagement, sharing their enthusiasm and knowledge. Put simply, they help us bring the place to life.”

Gargoyles decorate the abbey, while Indira Mann and John Simpson discuss the architecture, below

Before retiring John worked for Historic Scotland for 20 years, mainly at Melrose Abbey, so his knowledge is second to none. “I was familiar with the abbey whereas the others have taken it upon themselves to learn a whole new area of history to become a tour guide,” says John. “For me, volunteering is a great way to meet people from all over the world and enthuse them with the history of the abbey and this area. Scotland’s history starts in the Borders.” He paints a colourful picture of the abbey’s past without using too many dates. “People tend to read the guidebook once they get home,” John says. “They prefer a tour with a real person, who can interpret features of interest and awaken their sense of history.”

Crucial combination Three volunteers cover the abbey and the museum, which has been recognised as part of a UK-wide accreditation scheme. Collectively they provide 12 volunteer hours a week, and all possess the qualities Joanne considers crucial. “Good communication skills are a given,” she says. “An interest in history, obviously. Flexibility is also important but then there are things like an ability to inspire others, and pride in their community.” John is also unflappable, fielding my questions while pointing visitor after visitor towards the pig – “Who doesn’t want to see a pig playing the bagpipes?” – or the resting place of the heart of King Robert the Bruce. Saintly statues: the Virgin Mary, Peter, Paul and Andrew


Medieval magnificence The burial place of the heart of Robert the Bruce is a case in point. Excavations beneath the chapter house in 1996 rediscovered a lead casket fabled to contain Bruce’s mummified heart. This was reinterred at the abbey in 1998. The delicate sandstone marker is discreet, and the inscription – ‘A noble hart may have nane ease gif freedom failye’ – requires translation, particularly for overseas visitors. John gently quietens my own feeble attempt at translating the marker stone: “It means something like, ‘His heart will always be in pain if freedom is lacking.’” Various theories exist about the heart, its original burial site and whether it could have survived a round trip to the

BECOME A VOLUNTEER Historic Environment Scotland has more opportunities than ever to get involved in its expanding volunteer programme. For details, visit historicenvironment. scot/volunteer

Nancy Hanretty and Indira Mann help the Kern children try on the monks’ habits

Crusades – but it’s highly unlikely to be Bruce’s. As volunteer Nancy Hanretty later suggests, though, it is good for people to hear all sides of the story. I head over to the museum next, which fills two floors of the old commendator’s house, a short stroll from the abbey. This place is a gem; a bright, airy space full of fascinating relics. I can now fully appreciate the four statues of the saints Peter, Paul, Andrew and the Virgin Mary, which grace the ground floor. They were removed from the abbey in the 1980s to halt weathering and, more recently, have undergone careful conservation along with nearly 50 other medieval artefacts found within the grounds. These are beautifully presented as part of new displays unveiled in May this year. All I need now is someone to unlock their secrets. Enter husband-and-wife team Nancy and Alan Hanretty. This effervescent couple, a retired teacher and lecturer, moved to the Borders from Fife about four years ago and have volunteered here for more than a year. When I meet them they are already deep into a tour with two enthralled groups of visitors. Nancy is vividly describing monastic life to the Kern family from the USA. She points out the medieval “pisspots”, delighting in making the boys wrinkle their noses, and the fragment of a monk’s glasses, one of her favourite items. “Spectacles from the 14th century, all the way from Rome, perhaps used by a monk working on a manuscript. That’s amazing.”

The bell tower provides wonderful views of the lush Borders countryside

I hated history at school, but since doing this I’m a convert. I never expected this to happen Relish for relics Nancy wasn’t always so enamoured of the past. “I hated history at school, but since doing this I’m a convert. I saw the advert for volunteer tour guides in the local supermarket and thought it would interest Alan. I never expected to be doing this myself. Well, we came along to the abbey together and the rest is history.” We share a grin at the wellplaced phrase. They are both gifted communicators, able to read their audience and identify the artefacts and stories that will hook their imagination. Alan explains: “We started off doing meet-and-greet but moved to the museum when it opened

earlier this year. There is a prescribed tour, which we tailor to suit our visitors. When the museum is quiet we’ll quiz each other about the displays and decide what to research next.” By now, we have reached the far end of the top floor with the Kern family, and Nancy encourages them to try a monk’s habit for size. I help her slip the pale woollen garments over their heads and knot the rope belts. We are transported back to the 12th century. In fact, I’m finding it hard not to think of the Umberto Eco novel The Name of the Rose. “How does that feel?” asks Nancy. “Aren’t they scratchy? And just think, they didn’t wear anything underneath.” HISTORICENVIRONMENT.SCOT 43


GOLD-STAR TREATMENT Abbey recognised for collections care

Alan Millar tends one of the colourful flower beds

The first day Alan joined the team it was like he’d been with us for years When I catch up with Alan he is in animated conversation with a gentleman who has not been in the museum for some time. This is Andrew Burrell, a retired joiner who was involved in the original restoration of the commendator’s house. Alan is thrilled to meet someone with a connection to the building, while Andrew is delighted to have learned something new about his local area. It is not always possible to have these one-to-one experiences and this brings home to me one of the key values of volunteer guides.

Grounds for celebration I next have an appointment with the Monument Conservation Unit and garden helper, Alan Millar. The team is finishing the grass cutting – the abbey grounds are bowling-green perfect – and Alan is taking a quick breather at one of the picnic tables. He works with the team two days a week and clearly loves his job. They tend the Borders properties and help in other regions when required. But I sense that Melrose is a favourite spot. Alan has Down syndrome and his family were keen to find an activity he would really enjoy. He could not have picked a better pursuit, and fellow gardeners Colin Angus and Gary Thorburn are delighted he’s on board. Colin recalls: “The first day Alan joined the team it was like he’d been with us for years. He fits right in and is a great asset. According to his family, 44 HISTORIC SCOTLAND

since working with us Alan has come right out of his shell. It has boosted his confidence and by all accounts he’s a changed person.” We head to the greenhouses, with much good-natured banter on the way, where Alan plants and brings on the medieval herbs sold at Jedburgh Abbey. Having saved me from a fall – “Mind that hosepipe!” – he talks me through the different stages of the process, from mixing the compost to planting out the pots. The team challenges me to name the herbs; today’s line-up includes spearmint, sage and marjoram. As well as grass cutting, herb growing and tasks involving various pieces of kit, Alan looks after his own border at Melrose. It is a beautifully planted riot of colour, with begonias, dahlias and geraniums. We linger in the sunshine to admire the display but I know I’m keeping them from their work and bid them farewell. It is clearly a well-organised Husband-and-wife team Nancy and Alan Hanretty operation. But there in the museum is something even more important at play: a strong sense of camaraderie. Every volunteer is passionate about Melrose Abbey and the role they have, and the staff can’t imagine life without them.

In August, Melrose Abbey’s museum and others under the care of Historic Environment Scotland earned an important accolade, joining more than 1,700 museums across the UK recognised for the quality of their collections care. The Museum Accreditation Scheme is widely viewed as the gold standard for best practice, and the commendator’s house collections won recognition, alongside those of Skara Brae and Duff House. In fact, the abbey’s museum houses one of the most significant groupings of medieval artefacts in Scotland. More than 2,000 exhibits provide a time capsule of monastic life and these were unveiled in new displays earlier this year. Artefacts include one of the earliest types of piggy bank, or pirlie pig, a stone sculpture of the tarrasque – a beast with the skin of a serpent and a lion’s head – and items used by the Cisterian monks in their daily lives, from inkwells to posset pots.




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Abbey habits

Meet the Melrose volunteers



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Yuletide treats Enjoy Christmas lunches at Edinburgh and Stirling Castles, as well as other festive frolics at properties across the country Pick up your events guide at any of our properties or visit


Mon 11–Sat 23 Dec (excluding Sun 17); 12.30pm–4pm Adult member £34, child member £17, adult non–member £40, child non– member £20 Booking essential online 0131 225 9746 uk/festive Make Christmas 2017 special with a threecourse lunch in the castle’s magnificent Jacobite Room, which boasts splendid views across the capital.

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Christmas Lunch

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Fri 22 & Sat 23 Dec; Doors open 6.15pm for a 7pm start Adult £16, concession £14, child £12, family (2 adults, 2 children) £49 – 10% members discount Booking essential online 0131 668 8885

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A Very Victorian Christmas


Every Wed til Mar (except 27 Dec & 3 Jan); 10–11am 01856 841 732 orkneyrangers@


Sun 3 Dec; 12.30–3.30pm 0131 668 8885 uk/festive Hear about the tales and traditions of Christmas and discover where Charles Dickens found inspiration for A Christmas Carol.

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Carols at the Castle STIRLING CASTLE

Enjoy a glass of




mulled wine and get into the festive spirit while the National Youth Choir of Scotland perform some Christmas carols.

Traditions and Tales of Christmas

Sun 10 Dec; 6.30–8.30pm Adult £16, concession £11 – 10% members discount Booking essential online 01786 450 000 uk/festive


Join the Ranger Service for a guided tour of our oldest stone circle and explore the fascinating links with the nearby Neolithic Village of Barnhouse.

Ring of Brodgar Walk


Join us for some festive shopping that will showcase Scottish brands, local crafts and fine food and drink.

Standing Stones of Stenness and Barnhouse Village Walk


Tue 19–Fri 22 Dec; 11.15am, 12.15pm, 2pm, 3pm 0131 668 8885 uk/festive Learn the origins of our modern day Christmas traditions as we uncover the

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Sat 23–Fri 29 Dec (excluding 25 & 26 Dec); 11.15am, 12.15pm, 2pm, 3pm 0131 668 8885 uk/festive It is the festive season at Court. While Reformation Scotland shuns Christmas festivities, Mary, Queen of Scots is celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas with her


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Wed 27 Dec; 1–3pm Booking essential 0131 652 8150 Join us for a special Christmas version of our much loved guided walk. Learn more about Arthur’s Seat’s turbulent past, created by fire and ice.

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Every Thur til Mar (except 28 Dec & 4 Jan); 1–2pm 01856 841 732 orkneyrangers@ Explore the area around the Ring of Brodgar during our guided walk with a Ranger and find out about the special significance of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.

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Talks and walks at The Holyrood Education Centre


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Sun 3 Dec, Sun 7 Jan (dog-friendly), Sun 4 Feb, Sun 4 March (dog-friendly); 1–3pm Booking essential The Stenness Watch Stone stands outside the circle

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Sun 10 Dec; 1–3.30pm Booking essential 0131 652 8150 Come along for a guided walk around the boundary wall. Learn about the history of the local communities and find out how they utilised the park. JANUARY

Sensing and Sensibility: Results from Parking


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Sat 20 Jan; 1–2.30pm Booking essential 0131 652 8150


Sun 28 Jan; 10am–1pm Booking essential 0131 652 8150

Join us as we explore a recent 3D imaging survey of our extensive city green space in Holyrood Park. Hear about the wealth of archaeological remains dating back thousands of years.

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Crime and Punishment in Georgian Scotland


Sat 20 Jan; 12–2pm 0131 652 8150 historicenvironment. scot/events


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DIARY DATES Georgian Scotland and learn about the time of the ‘Bloody Code’, when the minimum age for capital punishment was seven years old.

year old settlement site dating from the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods.

Houses Great and Small

Sun 25 Feb; 10am–1pm Booking essential 0131 652 8150

Coolest Walk on Earth HOLYROOD PARK

Come and hear about the grandest and smallest houses in our care, and how each plays an important part in telling the history of Scotland.

Wetland Wildlife Wander


Watch Out, Toads About! HOLYROOD PARK

Sat 24 & Sat 31 Mar, Sat 7 Apr; 8.30am–10am Booking essential 0131 652 8150


Sat 10 Feb; 1–3pm Booking essential 0131 652 8150 Join a Ranger on a walk round the loch whilst keeping a look out for the wildlife.

A Race Against the Wind: Rescue Excavation at Links of Noltland, Westray HOLYROOD PARK

Sat 17 Feb; 1–2.30pm Booking essential 0131 652 8150

Join a Ranger for a walk up the High Road to Dunsapie, collecting stranded toads.

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Tue 27 Mar; 10.30am–12.30pm Booking essential 0131 652 8150 Now that spring is here, the wildlife of Linlithgow Peel is waking back up. Who can you find?

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Second in a series of two walks. Join an expert geologist and a Ranger on a threehour guided walk to discover more about the landscape of the park.



Sat 10 Feb; 1–2.30pm Booking essential 0131 652 8150


Gift shop

Singing the song of Burns’ red, red rose

Still Burns brightly Burns for Beginners EDINBURGH CASTLE

Wed 24–Sun 28 Jan; 11.15am, 12.15pm, 2pm, 3pm 0131 668 8885 uk/events Robert Burns is one of Scotland’s literary


greats – but what exactly was he talking about? Come along for a light– hearted introduction to the bard and some of his works.

Revel with Rabbie STIRLING CASTLE

Sat 27–Sun 28 Jan;

Reasonable wheelchair access

12–4pm 0131 668 8885 events Celebrate the life and works of Rabbie Burns, the Bard of Ayrshire. Learn about the Stirling Lines and how to address the haggis.

Picnic area

Dogs not permitted





base from 1881 to 1964. The site is still an active military base, now home to the Black Watch. A plaque over the fort’s main gate commemorates 8,432 men lost in the First World War. See more images like this from SCRAN at


The military stronghold of Fort George

WHAT IS IT? A soldier of the Seaforth Highlanders closes a gate at the Regimental Depot at Fort George, in 1955. Built after the Jacobite Rising of 1745, Fort George became a recruiting and training base for the Highland regiments of the British Army. It was the Seaforth Highlanders’



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Historic Scotland, Winter 2017  

The magazine for Historic Scotland members

Historic Scotland, Winter 2017  

The magazine for Historic Scotland members