Hi friends. What’s new with you? The countdown to our next Scottish adventure is officially ON! The light at the end of a very long tunnel is finally shining through, and the long wait is almost over. I am more excited than I can say. Oh, what wonderful new things I will have to share with you soon!
Today we are going to make a quick stop in the small coastal village of Aberlady, Scotland, to visit Aberlady Parish Church. Aberlady is located about 17 miles to the northeast of Edinburgh in the council area of East Lothian.
In my last blog post, I wrote about Lindisfarne Castle, which sits on the religiously significant Holy Island. By coincidence, today I learned that the community of Aberlady was once on the pilgrim route between the monasteries on Holy Island and the Isle of Iona! In fact, in 1863, a fragment of an ancient Celtic or Anglo-Saxon cross was discovered in a garden area next to the church. The carvings on the cross are similar to the artwork in the Lindisfarne Gospels, which now reside in the British Library in London. How magnificent!
Hey, friends. Today I would like to take you to another ‘off-the-beaten-path’ place. You probably know by now that those spots are my favorite. There is something fun about seeing things that the typical tourist doesn’t. Mr. C and I discovered this one entirely by accident. Today I’m going to take you to see Redhouse Castle.
Is the calendar really turning a page today? It feels like we just celebrated the new year, and here it is already four months in. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I adore the month of April. The breeze blows softer, the grass turns greener, and the sun shines warmer. With every new leaf and every tender shoot, I am reminded how all things are being made new. Kind of an appropriate allegory for today, I think.
With today being Easter Sunday, I thought it would be appropriate to journey with you to the ruins of a place that no doubt saw many an Easter Sunday celebration – St. Andrews Kirk in Gullane, Scotland.
Did anyone try the recipe I posted last week for the Victoria Sponge? My goodness, that was a delicious cake. I was also quite impressed by how well it held up. I was afraid the filling would cause the cake to become soggy, but I stored it in the refrigerator, and three days later, it was still fine. I’m not a fancy baker, but that cake made me feel fancy.
Anyway, it’s been a while since I have written about a castle here, so today I thought it would be fun to hop in the car and head over to East Lothian, Scotland. About 20 miles to the east of Edinburgh, just off of the A198, lies the pretty little village of Dirleton. And in the heart of Dirleton sits the awesome, robust remains of Dirleton Castle.
Those who are acquainted with me and Mr. C know that we are quite fond of gardens. For those who aren’t, I must confess that we (or is it just him?) are also a bit…well…ambitious. You know the phrase go big or go home? Sometimes I think we invented that phrase.
Nearly ten years ago, Mr. C and his trusty Kubota tractor took down a large, somewhat problematic tree behind our house. The removal of the tree and its massive root ball left us with a rather unsightly, gaping hole. Ever the visionary and enjoyer of manly projects, Mr. C had the brilliant idea to construct a pond/rock garden where the tree had previously stood. But in typical go big or go home fashion, the project did not end there. One pond quickly became two. Then three. Then four. What we have today, nearly a decade later, are three smaller ponds that connect via rocky streams into a larger pond. What my husband has built is quite extraordinary.
One of my favorite things to do in Scotland is to find the hidden treasures. That is not to say that the most popular and well-publicized sites aren’t great. They are! There is just something fun and unique about seeking out the hidden gems.
In our travels, Mr. C and I have made some pretty fantastic finds, and I plan to share them with you over time. But if I had to pick just one to tell you about today, it would be the beautiful ruins of Hailes Castle.
Hailes Castle sits roughly forty minutes east of Edinburgh, nestled snuggly along the River Tyne. The castle’s original stonework dates to the 1200s, which makes it one of the oldest surviving stone castles in Scotland.
Hugo de Gourlay first began the construction of Hailes. He had to forfeit his property to the government, however, after authorities discovered that he supported the English during the Scottish Wars of Independence. Later, the Hepburn family acquired the castle, and it remained in their care throughout its most tumultuous years.
Hailes Castle had its share of attacks. The worst seems to have taken place in 1446 when the pro-English Archibald Dunbar is said to have killed everyone he found in the castle. Hm, that could certainly give some credence to those who believe ghosties haunt the ruins!
In my opinion, one of the most intriguing aspects of the castle’s history is its connection to Mary Queen of Scots. (If you are not familiar with Mary, she was a cousin and rival of Queen Elizabeth I of England.) In 1567, James Hepburn (of Hailes) was involved in the murder of Mary’s second husband, Lord Darnley. It was a scandalous affair, and there are two different tales of how it played out. After receiving an acquittal for the murder, some believe that he kidnapped Mary as she was traveling to Edinburgh and that he forced her to marry him at Dunbar Castle. Others say the kidnapping was a pre-planned agreement between the two. Either way, history shows that the pair lodged at Hailes Castle for a few days before going on to Dunbar where they wed.
After Hepburn’s downfall, Hailes Castle passed through the families of the Stewarts and then the Setons. Finally, in 1650, the castle fell under the attack of Oliver Cromwell, effectively ending its days as a noble residence.
No longer a target for attack, Hailes Castle resides peacefully by the Tyne, charming visitors with its soft-spoken dignity and quiet demeanor. If you visit, take a picnic, turn off your phone, and let your imagination run wild.