Tantallon Castle, near North Berwick _ Ink/Inktense Pencils on a Watercolour Moleskine This was a stronghold of The Douglas’s from the mid 1340′s. It has a long and involved history and to read about it is to understand much of Scotland’s history from the time of Robert The Bruce. The place’s history reads as a historical record and is worth following up but there is little space here to go into great detail. It is thought that William Douglas, the nephew of James Douglas – Bruce’s right hand man, was the first recorded occupant of the castle, which had still to be developed into a huge structure. His descendent, the 5th Earl Douglas, Archibald, was involved in a plot against James 1V of Scotland. This led to a siege but the castle was not taken as the siege guns had little effect on the stonework. The Earl was later pardoned but his estate was forfeited and the castle became crown property. It was only when Cromwell’s troops besieged the place in 1651 that the more powerful artillery was successful. I visited Tantallon last weekend and re-acquainted myself with the area I first saw some years ago. I asked the curator about the sieges. It appears that the castle was built from soft sandstone which absorbed the impact from the cannons of James 1V. It was only later when Cromwell’s more powerful guns were used that the besiegers did more damage and this can still be seen today. Because of the softness of this material, the structure has suffered over the years and there is an ongoing restoration programme – not to re-build it but to save what you can see today, this being the state Cromwell left the place in. As there is no local stone left, the replacement stuff has to be imported from England which is kind of ironic. Tantallon has received much publicity recently as someone photographed a figure, in medieval garb staring from one of the windows. Experts swear the photo is genuine and many folk are keen to spot this ghost. Be careful, if you become one of them. What you see, in my picture, is a high “Curtain Wall about 12 feet wide. It is quite exposed on top. The Bass Rock lies just to the north. On the far side, which enclosed a large amount of buildings, there is a massive drop to the sea which swirls about causing those with vertigo to wish they were somewhere else. You can see more of my photos, from last week, at http://www.flickr.com/photos/28475994@N00/3455080531/
Grumpy old feet – Inltense/Micron pens on a moleskine sketchbook
Good fun researching this. Only got arrested twice.
The Falkirk Boat Lift (Known as the Falkirk Wheel) – Ink/Inktense in a Watercolour Moleskine This structure was designed to join the Forth and Clyde Canal to the Union Canal near Falkirk in central Scotland. At this point, the two canals have a difference in height of around 80 feet and, in the past, 15 locks were needed to allow boats and barges to sail from one to another. This strange looking structure, supposedly designed to look like a double-headed Celtic axe, was completed in 2002 and is a brilliant example of all that is good in engineering. Boats sail into the circular openings on the two arms and are sealed in large watertight tanks or caissons. The arms are then rotated until they have completed half a circle then the boats can exit. What is so good about this is that fact that the arms, with their caissons full of water, or with water and boats, are so finely balanced that an incredibly small amount of energy, about enough to boil the water in five kettles, is required to rotate the wheels which are over 100 feet in diameter and weigh many tons. It doesn’t matter if only one boat is being transferred. The caissons still weigh the same, as any boat merely displaces its own weight of water. The building in the background, shaped like a flat segment of fruit, is a comprehensive visitor centre.
Edinburgh’s Old Town, from the roof of the Museum of Scotland – Ink
Its possible to stroll around the terraced gardens, on the roof of the museum. We visited on Thursday, had lunch then tried to stay upright in a “Stiff breeze” while I sketched and took some photographs. The Museum of Scotland (completed in 1998) tells Scotland’s history, through a vast display of artefacts, on a series of seven floors. The original museum, (completed in 1888) has a more comprehensive collection of items but is closed for renovation at present. Both buildings are attached to each other and well worth a visit although you would have to spend a lot of time to see everything – and probably miss out on other, local attractions.
I’ve tried something different in this post. I’ve always been inspired by the works of Rowland Hilder, (1905 – 1993) the American born artist who emigrated to England in 1915. He was famous for his use of bold colours and was unafraid to use large areas of black to emphasise a point. I hope this has worked.
A room with a view – Ink on a Watercolour Moleskine
This is the view, looking eastwards, from the kitchen in the spacious ruins of Dirleton Castle which lies about twenty miles to the east of Edinburgh. The hill, in the distance, is North Berwick Law (Please see my post of 10th February) The kitchen is on one of the lower floors and openings, in the floors and ceilings were used to transport food and fuel around the building. The space, at the left, is the remains of a large oven.
The castle dates back to the thirteenth century and has had many occupants over the years. It was twice lost to, and recaptured from, invading English forces during the time of Wallace and Bruce. The Ruthvens acquired the castle at the start of the sixteenth century. This family courted controversy supposedly being involved in the murder of David Rizzio, the secretary to Mary; Queen of Scots. The castle was forfeited, to the crown, in 1600 after the Ruthvens were involved in a plot against James V1, but was again involved in a siege during the time of Oliver Cromwell. Today the building stands in magnificent grounds of mainly yew trees, some of which must date back hundreds of years. There are a number of other magnificent trees set in the longest herbaceous border in the country and the best preserved “Doocot”, in Scotland, lies at the north east end of the grounds. The top floor is now gone and most of the upper floors are open to the elements. The vaults, which were originally used for storage, are still used for private functions.
for some photos of this castle.
Para Mhuire – una pintura de ciervos de Escocia – Inktense pencils on a Watercolour Moleskine
Mhuire mentioned, in my post of 2nd April, that she would like to see what our native deer looked like – so here goes.
Mhuire, this painting is compiled from two photographs. Both were taken on separate holidays some years ago. The two female deer (hinds), in the foreground were so tame they could almost be fed by hand but this is to be discouraged as they loose all fear of people and can become very vulnerable. The stag in the background was added to give the scene some extra sense. Stags, or males, are usually harder to see as they tend to be shy and will round up their herds of hinds and shepherd them quickly away as soon as danger approaches. These are “Red Deer” the most common of all Scottish types with about 300,000 in our country.
I must thank you for suggesting this as a painting as I came up with a new way to use my watercolour pencils – a way I had not considered before. I hope you like this and apologies for my poor use of Spanish.
Un cordial saludo – Bob
The Windy Woods – Watercolour/Ink/Inktense on a Watercolour Moleskine
This is the far end of one of my daily walks. The proper name for out local wooded area is Tormain Woods. The “Windy” nickname comes from the fact that they are exposed to the prevailing westerly wind which “sculpts” the trees severely. Other, apt names include “Badger Woods” for obvious reasons. Badgers are not the only creatures which live here. There are foxes, stoats and weasels which, like the badgers, are hard to spot but they leave evidence of their presence. The tops of the trees are home to colonies of rooks and crows which go mad when people dare to walk through their territory. More elusive are the deer which are hardly ever seen but, if you keep very quite, you can hear them, in the distance, going “Woof, Woof”.
A Peaceful Haven – Inktense Pencils in a Watercolour Moleskine
Edinburgh resembles a huge building site, at the moment, as work stutters from one street to another, as preparation for the new tramway system continues. Far better to leave that behind and re-visit the Botanic Gardens where masses of spring bulbs carpet the areas under the trees. Its always been peaceful, here, in fact my mother used to seek sanctuary in the gardens when she was studying to be a nurse in the 1930′s. She would sit and read her medical notes without distraction. Thank God the quietness hasn’t changed! Our city boasts plenty of green spaces, like this, and soon folks will make use of every available space to sit and relax – assuming the rain stays away.
Red Sky at Morning, Shepherds’ Warning – Ink/Inktense on a Watercolour Moleskine
We get a lot of incredibly coloured morning skies, here in Ratho, as the sun rises over the Pentland Hills to the south. The old proverb was certainly true in this instance. Within an hour of taking a photograph of this scene of one of our local canal bridges, the rain was coming down in torrents. At least this should auger well for this season’s vegetable plot. The sharp bend in the road is typical of my area as many of the country roads run parallel to the canal then suddenly cross it, meaning a violent twist in direction. At least this ensures traffic is unable to reach any great speed locally but one has to be careful when out walking or sketching.
Freelands Road and a ghostly occurrence – Ink on a Watercolour Moleskine
I used to cycle to work along this road in every sort of weather condition. Some years ago, the wintry weather was very cold and misty. As I cycled under the railway bridge, in the centre of this scene, a following car slowed down to avoid getting too close. Its headlights suddenly threw an huge image of me, on my bike, against the curtain of mist which was hanging in the trees. As the vehicle drew closer my “image” was suddenly encircled in a bright ring of light about 20 feet in diameter. Both I and the car driver stopped to look at this for a few moments and we agreed that we had never seen anything like it before. Later, in the school where I taught, a colleague; a teacher of physics suggested that we had experienced a “Brocken Spectre”. I wonder if anyone else has seen this phenomenon which is, as the link shows, usually observed in mountains?