Silent Sunday…. Another Abbey Re-Visited

MELROSE ABBEY

Melrose Abbey, Roxburghshire, The Scottish Borders

Reflecting on past trips, Melrose and its Abbey came very much to mind.  I guess I have to own up, I have always found these ruins of a once great Abbey rather special.  Maybe because of its surroundings in the Tweed Valley,  over shadowed by the mellow Laidlaw Hills.  Maybe because it is also part of the busy border town of Melrose itself a town of great character.

Founded in the 11th century this Cistercian Abbey played an important community roll.  Perhaps most importantly in the Famines of the 12th Century when the Abbey fed many thousands of people across the Borders.

As with so many of our Abbeys up and down the UK, we have to blame Henry VIII and his policy of dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538 for their destruction.

Ruins they may be, but what remains is still a lasting testament to the craftsmen who built these massive structures so long ago.  Skilful stone masons and hard labour in a time of limited tools and perhaps equally limited knowledge of building knowhow.

Significantly the importance of Melrose is perhaps underlined, as this was the place selected for the return of Robert The Bruce’s Heart.  Robert The Bruce was King of the Scots from 1306 till his death in1329.  His place in Scotland’s history firmly established when he led the First War of Independence against England.

A simple Plaque marks the spot

If your travels take you to Scotland and you have a chance to explore the Border Region (which is a must) then Melrose should be placed very high on your to do list.  You will not be disappointed and if you do just take the opportunity to stand, pause and imagine.

Wherever you travel near to home or far away once more normal times return…

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

29th August

(C) David Oakes 2021

A Rather Grand Light…

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Known locally as either the Beach Lighthouse or the more popular Lower Lighthouse.  It marks the mouth of the Wyre Estuary, on the Lancashire Coast at Fleetwood.  Clear views across Morecambe Bay and across to the Lancashire Fells, it really is a grand location..  Lower Lighthouse ?…. simply because there is another much taller Lighthouse further away from the coast….  shipping approaching the port needed to line the lights up to get safe passage.

It is also rather distinctive in style, I feel sure there is not another one like it.  Opened in 1840 it has become not just an aid to safe shipping, but also now a familiar landmark on Fleetwood’s  esplanade.  Its style and importance is recognised, as the Lighthouse has Listed Building status

Lighthouses are to keep Mariners approaching port safe……  Life is also starting to get back to some form of normal, which means we should all still be vigilant….  so

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

24th August

(C) David Oakes 2021

 

When is a Castle not a Castle…. when its a Broch

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A Broch is very much a historic feature of Scottish architecture.  Iron age in origin, with suggestions that the name broch is of ancient Scottish and/or early northern Scandinavian adaption.  The historical background is still a cause of investigation and study with some conflicting opinion as to the original purpose of the building.

I am no expert, just love these structures and the varied surrounds in Scotland on which you discover them.  I am also of the opinion that they were an integrated family/community home.  OK, it is a solid stone structure.  The walls are invariable hollow, providing both insulation from the climate and also access to other levels.  It seems that cattle were kept with in these walls on the lower floor.  People then lived and worked on the upper floors where no doubt the heat from the animals added to the warmth in the winter months. But is it a castle? Well sort of.  It could also be described as a Manor House.  However you describe it a Broch provide a secure building for people and livestock, a place to work, a place to store food stocks and a place to relax but also a place that could be defended.  The fact that the entrance is restricted in size and no windows makes for a very secure building. The height also gave views over a wide range enabling possible hostile visitors to be seen early and precautions in a lawless world taken.

This Broch is known as Taobh A-Staigh An Duin.  It is located on the slopes of the Lochaber mountains near to Loch Hourn.  To help interpret these ruins a helpful illustrated plaque has been erected….

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Stand within these walls and you have to be impressed by the skills of these early builders.  A Broch is a very practical structure, for the time in history when they were erected, they were also a very challenging and labour intensive project, a project only undertaken only with primitive hand tools.  You also have to be impressed with the concept of the Broch, a complete household, or maybe a farmstead or indeed a castle.

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If you on your travels come across a Broch, allow your self some time to stand and wonder…. it also makes one consider if we relay have progressed.

No matter what you choose to ponder upon or where you travel this weekend…

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

8th August

(C) David Oakes 2021

A Grand Interior……

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Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire.

To be truly accurate the above is actually called the Little Castle.  So before I take you inside, let me explain.

The Little Castle is really a tower within the walls of Bolsover Castle.  Bolsover Castle stands high above the north Derbyshire Countryside.  Built on the site of a Medieval Fortification, Bolsover Castle was the dream of Sir Charles Cavendish.  Construction started in the very early 1600’s, with work on the Little Castle commencing in 1621. Work halted and some damage done when the Castle was occupied by Parliamentarians in the English Civil Wars of 1642/51.

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It should be mentioned that the Castle was never intended as a Fortification.  After the Wars, it was restored and construction continued, to complete the Castle built for pleasure. So don’t be surprised at the sumptuous and lovingly restored interior of the Little Castle. So lets pop inside for a brief peak…

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Pleasure was not just limited to the Little Castle.  The main Castle complex is more substantial, in terms of size, rooms, terraces and galleries, all spread along the hillside.  Today much of these buildings are only shells, but still convey the enormous size and complexity of the Castle.

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Part of this complex was the concept of Sir William Cavendish who built a Riding School and Stables for the elegant horses he imported from as far afield as Turkey and North Africa. Today exhibitions of Cavalier Horsemanship is demonstrated for visitors.  Sadly I cannot illustrate this modern and exciting aspect as photography of the Demonstrations is not permitted.

I hope you have enjoyed our Saturday Tour…two castle in one cannot be bad.  Now don’t forget to shut the door when you leave 🙂

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Please Remember to ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

10th April

(C) David Oakes 2021

The Navigators……

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Padrao dos Descobrimentos

Lisbon, Portugal is a great Tourist destination.  There are Museums, Art Galleries, Churches and a great many Architectural Treasures recording and representing both Lisbon’s History, but also Portugal’s centuries of achievement.

One of Portugal’s most significant achievement, is perhaps, the period what was know as the Age of Discovery… the Age of Exploration  which ran across the 15th and 16th centuries.  A multitude of the adventures and stories are told in the Cities Museums and Galleries.

On the waterfront of Lisbon, overlooking the River Tagus, is a much more modern contribution to these achievements.  Created in 1960 and dedicated to recognise the five centuries since the death of Prince Henry the Navigator, the expeditions he lead, and those that followed, resulted in the discovery of  countries and continents, creating a map of much of the world, a world that we would recognise today.

A symbolic Sailing Ship, surrounded by its crew of explores, map makers and religious evangelists headed by their leader Prince Henry.

There is indeed much to see on any visit to Lisbon.  But do make time to view this modern Sculptural Tribute to Portugal’s Maritime achievements.  It is a great contrast to the more traditional Museums, that also have to be visited.

Please Remember to ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

3rd April

(C) David Oakes 2021