King of the Castle

We literally just got back from an afternoon trip to Stonehaven where the main highlight was finally getting to see a castle!! First we stopped in the actual town center for lunch, we found a restaurant right on the harbour... The Captain's Table. I had stuffed peppers and a glass of cab and Mike got Cullen Skink soup and a shrimp cocktail. No, the Cullen Skink isn't made from skunk! It's a bisque-like soup made with haddock (fish), potatoes, onions and double cream. Really delicious if you get it at the right place.

After lunch we hit up the castle. Amazing!

For some reason I'm sort of obsessed with the legend of William Wallace (I'm sure it has everything to do with Mel Gibson in Braveheart), but it was really neat to find out he's been to Dunnottar castle on several occasions. Most notably, ahem, burning down a chapel. From the website (dunnottarcastle.co.uk):

In the 12th Century Dunnottar Castle became a Catholic settlement with the first stone chapel being consecrated in 1276. According to "Blind Harry", a 15th Century poet, whose epic poem was an inspiration for the 1996 film "Braveheart", William Wallace set fire to this chapel with a garrison of English soldiers taking refuge inside. The current chapel was built in the 16th Century.

Parts of the castle seemed to have held up really well, being more than a thousand years old and all. It's impressive to think there are people who so diligently study this type of history that when a discovery such as this castle is made, they can identify it and label specific things like where the bread oven was located, the main suite, the dining room, etc.

It was even more of an experience when you actually try to imagine what it looked like so long ago... armored horses and their riders galloping down the hill to the castle, where everyone was dressed like they worked at Medieval Times and drank wine from copper cups and kept cannons at the ready for imminent attacks.

In fact, the castle is also well known for it's part in protecting the Crown Jewels. Also from the website:
In 1649 Charles I, King of both England and Scotland was executed by Oliver Cromwell, the self-proclaimed Lord Protector. In 1650, his young son Charles II arrived in North East Scotland, and stayed a night in Dunnottar on his journey south to give battle for his fathers' two kingdoms.

In England, on hearing of the young Kings arrival, Oliver Cromwell was so enraged that he ordered the invasion of Scotland. In some haste Charles II was crowned at Scone, but the "Honours of Scotland", the crown and other regalia, could not be returned to Edinburgh Castle, as it had been taken by Cromwell's army. Having already destroyed the English crown jewels, the Honours of Scotland were the most potent icon of monarchy, and as such were next on Cromwell's list. Cromwell's army was fast approaching, so Charles II ordered the Earl Marischal to take the Honours to Dunnottar and secure them there.

It was not long before Dunnottar was under siege, and a scratch, aged garrison of seventy men held out for eight months against the invading might of Cromwell's army until heavy cannons arrived. Following ten days of heavy fire, surrender was made. This was not however before the Honours of Scotland were smuggled out of the Castle and taken to Kinneff Church, where they were buried in the Church. They remained there undiscovered for eleven years, until the King returned to the throne and the Honours were returned to Edinburgh Castle.

The wind has really picked up today and we just about blew over during most of the self-guided tour. I've never had more sand in my hair for a day of NOT being directly on the beach!

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