We would like wish our readers a happy St Andrew’s Day.
Hermitage Castle and the adjacent chapel were placed in State Guardianship in 1930. The ‘blue’ guide was prepared by W. Douglas Simpson. There is a short history indicating that the castle was founded by 1300. It was captured by Sir William Douglas in 1338. There is then a description with a series of black and white photographs, and a ground floor plan.
A short description of Hermitage Chapel, settled by brother William from Kelso. The guide closes with a section on Ballad Lore, and the account of Lord Soulis.
Simpson’s blue guide continued into the period of Historic Scotland. The text is almost identical. The introduction becomes ‘Renouned among Border fortresses’. The history is turned into ‘The strength of Liddesdale’; the seal of William Douglas that served on the cover of the blue guide is inserted in the text. The description became ‘Grim indeed’. Among the photographs is one from the air derived from the Royal Commission. The plan that appears in the double pages of the blue guide appears inside the back cover, although the scale is reproduced in metres. The section on Ballad Lore is included along with a portrait of Sir Walter Scott with Hermitage Castle in the background.
The section on the chapel includes photographs as well as a plan and restoration made in 1900.
This guide included a family tree of the Douglases (and points to other family castles, namely Threave, Tantallon, and Aberdour) and one of Hepburn (with other castles, Crichton, Hailes, Huntly; Spynie Palace; St Andrews Cathedral). There are portraits of James Hepburn, 4th Early of Bothwell, and his second wife, Mary Queen of Scots. (The portrait of Mary in the HS guide uses the portrait in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.)
Note the different colours used for ‘Hermitage’ and ‘Castle’.
A new Historic Scotland ‘Official Souvenir Guide’ was prepared by Chris Tabraham. This starts with a Guided Tour, followed by the History. There is mention of a possible deer park. No plan is included although a drawing of the castle from the air helps to orientate the visitor.
The 12th century motte near the village of Mochrum is in the care of Historic Environment Scotland. It still stands some 6.5 m high.
Access to the top of the motte is via a rope from which there are views towards the Mull of Galloway and the Isle of Man.
The gardens at Dirleton are a delight. In the corner of the 1860s and 1920s garden is a gazebo, suitably signed.
Dirleton is in the care of Historic Scotland.
The fall of France in the spring of 1940 meant that Sussex became the front line. The ruins of Pevensey Castle—a Roman Saxon Shore fort as well as a medieval castle—were used to disguised strong points. Teams from the Ministry assisted with the construction of the defences so that they would blend into the ruins of the Roman and medieval walls.
This pill box was mounted on the wall of the medieval keep. Note the Ministry sign placed below it: ‘Gun Emplacement / 1939-1945’.
- For 3D reconstruction of the WW2 defences of Pevensey Castle
Pevensey Castle was given to the Office of Works by the Duke of Devonshire in 1925. It became one of the front line defences of Britain in 1940.
Pevensey Castle was one of the Saxon Shore forts and was later reused as a medieval castle.
For guidebooks to the fort and castle see here.
Castle Rising was placed in state care in 1958. Prior to this it had been in the estate of the Hoard family. During this phase William Taylor wrote his History and Antiquities of Castle Rising, Norfolk (c. 1850).
Harry Lawrence Bradfer-Lawrence prepared Castle Rising: A Short History and Description of the Castle with Illustrations (1929). This continued in print until 1954.
R. Allen Brown produced the Department of the Environment guide in 1978. This was reprinted in 1984, and then issued by by English Heritage in 1987, with reprints as late as 1996. R. Allen Brown also wrote the guides to Dover Castle, Orford Castle, and Rochester Castle.