The Roman fort of Brecon Gaer lies to the west of Brecon. It is probably to be identified with the Cicucium (Cicutium) from the Ravenna list. The fort was excavated by Sir Mortimer Wheeler in 1924 and 1925, and the remains placed in State Guardianship in 1953. He suggested that the fort was constructed c. AD 75.
A funerary inscription, dating to c. AD 100, belonged to a trooper in the Cavalry Regiment of Vettonian Spaniards (RIB 403). Another tombstone for a trooper from another cavalry regiment is also known from the site (RIB 405). The same cavalry unit was based in Binchester in Co. Durham in the 190s (RIB 730; 1032; 1035). (The guide suggests that the unit was based at Bowes [see guidebook] but the confusion comes from a dedication made at Bowes.)
Oswin E. Craster prepared the short guide (1954). This consisted of a history followed by a description of the remains.
The later DOE guide is an updated version of the paper guide. The concertina card guide was also used for other Roman forts such as Hardknott, and the Saxon Shore Fort at Reculver.
1957 (5th impress. 1971)
Crichton Castle, in Midlothian, was placed in State Guardianship in 1926. W. Douglas Simpson prepared the guidebook in 1957; contemporary with the one for Hermitage Castle. He made comparison with Craigmillar Castle that lies to the north-west: ‘The serious student of Scottish castles should compare Crichton with Craigmillar’.
The guide starts with a summary that serves as a statement of importance. It notes the link with Sir Walter Scott’s Marmion. This is followed by a description, and then the history. A series of black and white photographs were placed in the centre, and a fold-out plan inside the back cover.
1987 (2nd ed.; 2nd impress. 1990)
The Historic Scotland guide starts with an introduction, ‘On the steep of the green vale of the Tyne’. This was followed by the history, ‘A residence of Lordship’. The tour is provided next, ‘Remains of ride Magnificence’. Plans are provided inside the back card cover.
The text was prepared by Christopher J. Tabraham ‘from an original script by W. Douglas Simpson’. The history initially repeats Simpson’s text, but quickly parts company and expands on the background. The tour includes sections on the first castle; Chancellor Crichton’s lodging; Earl Bothwell’s work; and outbuildings.
Tantallon Castle was placed in State Guardianship in 1924. Its first official guidebook was prepared by J.S. Richardson, Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Scotland, and published in 1932 (and reissued in 1937). It was thus one of the earliest of the guides prepared for historic sites in Scotland. The guide starts with a description (pp. 3–11), followed by a history (pp. 12–31). A plan showing the outworks is printed opposite the title page, and a plan and cross-sections are printed on a fold-out sheet inside the back cover. The text is supported by black and white photographs.
1950 (2nd ed.; 1966, 7th impress.)
1950 (2nd ed.; 1972, 8th impress.)
Richardson’s guide continued into the 1970s as the blue guide. The format of description followed by history is the same. The fold-out plan continued to be placed inside the back cover. The side headings of the 1930s guide were turned into bold sub-headings.
1994 (rev. ed. 2007)
Chris Tabraham revised the Historic Scotland ‘Official Souvenir Guide’. This contains a guided tour followed by a history. There is a section on the spectacular Bass Rock, home to gannets. There is no plan of the castle, but the guided tour has a number view from the air to help orientate the visitor.
1954 (4th impress. 1970)
Craigmillar Castle, to the south-east of Edinburgh, was placed in State Guardianship in 1946. W. Douglas Simpson prepared the official guidebook in 1954. At the heart of the castle is the tower house, constructed after 1374 by Sir Simon Preston of Gorton. Queen Mary used the castle as her residence after the murder of Rizzio in 1566.
The guidebook is divided into description and (a short) history. A plan of the castle, and detail of the floors is provided in the centre pages.
1957 (5th impress. 1974)
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.
1982 (3rd ed. 1987)
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 combined guidebook to the Bishop’s Palace and the Earl’s Palace in Kirkwall, Orkney, was prepared by W. Douglas Simpson. Both palaces had been placed in State Guardianship in 1920.
The older Bishop’s Palace was linked to St Magnus’ Cathedral in Orkney. It was constructed in the 12th century. The Earl’s Palace was constructed by Earl Patrick from 1601; he incorporated the remains of the former Bishop’s Palace that had passed to his father, Earl Robert Stewart in 1568.
The guide contains an Introduction, followed by sections on the Bishop’s Palace and the Earl’s Palace (each with a history followed by a description), then a short bibliography and a glossary. A double-sided fold-out plan inside the back cover provides details for both palaces.
Both palaces now feature in the Historic Scotland guide to the monuments of Orkney by Caroline Wickham-Jones.
Egglestone Abbey © David Gill
Egglestone Abbey was a Premonstratensian foundation dating back to 1195. It was founded from Easby Abbey just outside Richmond. There are substantial remains of the abbey church, and the eastern range.
The remains of the abbey were place in State Guardianship in 1925. At the time it formed part of the county of Yorkshire, but with boundary changes it now lies within Co. Durham.
1958 (8th impress. 1976)
The original ‘blue guide’ was by Rose Graham (history) and P.K. Baillie Reynolds (description). There is a full tour of the remains, with a fold-out plan inside the back cover.
The abbey is now included in a combined guide (by Katy Kenyon) with nearby Barnard Castle and Bowes Castle.