32.1. Aberdeen, Day One: Stonehaven and Dunnottar Castle

So much to this day, I’m splitting into two posts!

Starting with the most important, if not the most fancy, meal of the day. The buffet at the hotel was first-rate, and I was the first customer so it was all fresh and piping hot!

I started with a walk to the harbor, just to sort of test how long a walk it was, since I’d be hauling my stuff on my back the next morning to stow it until I could check into my berth on the Northlink Ferry taking me to Shetland.

There’s the Northlink viking pointing Northways!

Today’s fun was a small guided tour of Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven (one of the most photographed castles in Scotland), exploring that little town, and high tea afterwards before heading back to Aberdeen.

On board the train to Stonehaven. These trains are super posh!
A lovely mile’s walk to town from the station. So much lilac everywhere in Wales and Scotland this time of year! Mmmmmmmmm.
I have questions.
R.W. Thomson, self-taught inventor of the pneumatic tire, electric detonator for explosives, self-filling fountain pen, and so much more. Born in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire!

These gravestones form part of the wall beside the public footpath behind the Police Station in Bog Well Lane. They were found nearby during the 19th Century in an area used for burying plague (or pest) victims. 

‘Heir lyes ane honest man, Magnvs Tailiovr, seyman, qvha depairtit in November, pest 1608’

‘Heir lyes ane Honest mans bairns Alexander and William Brokie, sones lawful to Alexander Brokie, who departet the 12 of Jwnie, of the age of tvalf and nyn yeirs old, in ano 1648’

“Pest” (plague)
Looking down on Stonehaven harbor. Part 2 of this day is my wander along the waterfront.
That right there? That’s the Highland Boundary Fault! Read about it here. This phenomenon is of special interest to the woman who did my Dunnottar Castle tour (Faulty Tours, LOL). If I go back, I’ll explore it with her.
Dunnottar Castle from the War Memorial (of which I sadly did not get photos).
One of the many coves along this bit of coastline.
I just love the variety of the coast here.
It is magnificent even from a distance.
One can only imagine how awe-inspiring it must have been in its heyday.
The castle’s placement made it impossible for anyone to sneak up on it.
My guide has lived in Stonehaven her entire life. She and her friends used to sneak into the castle grounds via this cave.
One other reason for the impermeability of this castle: This is the only entrance and is easily defended.
Quite the bottleneck here, too.
Weapons portals.
View from the castle walls.
George Keith, the 5th Earl Marischal, brought a pet lion here.
The keep walls, built in 1392, still standing.
Flowers from stones.
Up the chimney.
Nope, can’t sneak up from there!

Love the pitting of the sandstone.
Beautiful cliffs, and the keep build into them.
The residences, behind the keep.
The war memorial in the distance.
Probably a nook for a religious artifact or icon.
The only gravestone surviving, that of a child.
My guide! Man, she knew EVERYTHING about this castle. It was a fantastic tour.
Dramatic sky, teeth of ruins.
The Castle cistern.
The kitchen. Those folks are standing at the entrance to the oven.

One of the darkest chapters of Dunnottar’s history is that of the Whig’s Vault. In 1685, one hundred and twenty two men and forty five women, whose crime was their refusal to acknowledge the King’s supremacy in spiritual matters. They were imprisoned with little food and no sanitation from 24 May until the end of July in the gloomy, airless cellar. Thirty seven Whigs finally agreed to take the oath of allegiance and were released. Twenty five escaped, however fifteen were recaptured and two fell to their deaths during the attempt. A further five prisoners also died.

Kings Charles I and II were not a nice men, and obviously neither was the Marischal of Dunnottar during that period.
The Whig’s Vault. At the time, it was totally enclosed.
The only opening in the vault, i.e., the only place to relieve oneself.
Don’t break the law, kids! You’ll end up in Thief’s Hole.
More sandstone pitting.
Oooooooo ghosties!
Ancient stonework.
The Earl’s Chambers.
Room with a view.
The Chapel.
Amazing stonework.
Quite the fortress.
My guide, Susan, was a gem!
An early sculpture by Andy Scott, famous for the Kelpies in Falkirk near Edinburgh.
Afternoon tea at Arduthie Tea Rooms!
So. Much. Yum.
All house made goodies.
An extraordinary scone.
Feeling righteously hungry.
My favorite was the panna cotta. Hands down.

Arduthie was a lovely house, and I rather wish I had opted to stay there in Stonehaven. It was an easy train ride from the city, and a really cute little town, definitely more my speed than the city vibe of Aberdeen. Next time!

Stay tuned for the REST of the day in Stonehaven!

28 May, 2022


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