On a cold and windy weekend a group of SCA members and friends travelled to INVERQUHARlTY CASTLE near Kirriemuir to start upon two days of castle visits . The group were received by the resident owners and guided around the externals of the structure from ground level. Special attention was given to the strategic position of the building and to the private garden. The Iron Yett that still protects the entrance to the tower was greatly admired. There then followed a tour of the tower and adjoining building, with the great hall, wallwalks and lofty caphouse arousing much comment. The owners had enlisted the services of several friends who supported our visit just like a "Doors open day" .
The group reassembled at COLLISTON CASTLE near Arbroath, where we were hosted by the owner. Time was taken to examine the many marriage and heraldic stones visible on the exterior, with the owner explaining the underlying history of these and the many other historical associations of the castle, This was followed by a guided tour of the inside of the building.
Arriving at KELLY CASTLE, we were met by the Lady of the house who invited one half of our party to join her in a detailed examination of the inside of the castle. and of the many interesting artefacts there. The second group were generously provided with afternoon tea, in one of the castle courtyard outbuildings. This arrangement allowed each half of the group ample time to explore the extensive and beautifully maintained gardens within the castle walls.
The final visit on this first day took the group down through Dundee and over the Tay bridge across Fife, and on to BALGONIE CASTLE. There we were met by a Piper playing from the inner court and by the Morris family. The group were taken on a tour of the outside of the Tower, walls and outbuildings. All were impressed with the beautiful chapel which has become such an important aspect of the ongoing life of this extensive castle. As darkness fell we passed into the tower and enjoyed a detailed description of the internal restorations. After wide discussion the then SCA Chairman, John P Wright, called the now large group of members to the Barrel Vault, where the first Annual General Meeting of the Association was held. Following the AGM members and friends were invited to move to the Great Hall for a celebratory dinner. The meal was interspersed with speeches of thanks and discussions on many topics of interest.
Arriving at DAIRSIE CASTLE in Fife, early on Sunday morning, all were amazed at the transformation the new owners have made to this previously ruined structure. We were given a detailed description of the largely completed works by the actual Architect. All were fascinated by the stories as to how this progress had been achieved, especially with the insight into the sometimes lengthy discussions between architect, client, builders and other various interested agencies. The external aspect of the building has been based on much investigation and extrapolation, all of this based on historical and archaeological evidence. Modern materials have been used in many areas to allow the total costs of this work to be to kept to within the available budget. The internal decor, with modern and traditional influences were discussed at great length. This was a particularly "stimulating" visit.
Continuing on through Fife to EARLSHALL CASTLE the group gathered in the famous and extensive gardens, prior to being conducted on a fascinating exploration. The ownership of the building had recently changed and was at the time of the visit, cleared of many of its furnishings. We were allowed to explore the towers and turrets and spent time in the long gallery admiring and attempting to decipher the wall and ceiling paintings and wall texts. Many could sympathise with the ancient words...
Following the tour the group enjoyed afternoon tea provided by the new owners.
Retracing our steps past Dairsie we visited MONlMAlL TOWER. This small corner tower is all that remains of the original structure. Our host here, a fellow tour member, is also active in the SCA. We were shown around this community restoration and were delighted that this project had progressed to such a degree. The restoration team are intending that this tower and its surroundings become integrated into the local community. The site is also being used as a base for the promotion of the use of lime mortars with education and training courses being organised on this important subject in castle restoration. This visit closed a most enjoyable weekend tour.
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