Whithorn: guidebooks

Whithorn_blue

1953 (5th impress. 1968)

C.A. Ralegh Radford and Gordon Donaldson prepared an official guidebook for Whithorn and Kirkmadrine in 1953. This covers the monastery and later priory at Whithorn; St Ninian’s Chapel at the Isle of Whithorn; St Ninian’s Cave at Glasserton; the museum at Whithorn that contains material from surrounding locations; and the Kirkmadrine stones displayed in the old church. There is a fold-out plan of the priory at Whithorn. The guide contains an extensive history of the region (pp. 3–27).

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The present History Scotland guide is by Adrian Cox with Sally Gall and Peter Yeoman. The focus is on Whithorn but there are sections on St Ninian’s Chapel and Cave, as well as a double page spread on Kirkmadrine.

St Andrews Castle: guidebooks

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St Andrews Castle © David Gill

St Andrews castle was placed in State Guardianship in 1911. Stewart Cruden, Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Scotland, prepared the official guide (1951; 2nd ed. 1958). This starts with a history followed by a description. A block of black and white photographs appear in the centre section. A fold-out plan is printed inside the stiff back cover.

The cover device is described as follows:

An imaginative composition consisting of a saltire cross (for St Andrew and St Andrews) surrounded by battlementing typifying castles generally. The cinque-foil in each corner is the armorial device of Archbishop John Hamilton who erected the south front and placed this badge upon the work he did, in four carved medallions over the entrance.

StAndrews_castle_blue

1951; 2nd ed. 1958 (5th impress. 1970)

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St Andrews Castle © David Gill

A third edition of Cruden’s guidebook was published in 1982. The text is the same as the blue guide, but integrates photographs and plans with the text.

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1982 (3rd ed.)

The Historic Scotland souvenir guide was prepared by Richard Fawcett in 1992, and revised by Chris Tabraham and Doreen Grove in 2001. This colour guide starts with a guided tour followed by the story (not history) of the castle. There is a bird’s eye drawing to help visitors around the site, with numbered locations that relate to sections in the text.

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1992 (rev. ed. 2001, repr. 2007)

Dumbarton Castle: Custodian’s Office

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Dumbarton Castle © David Gill

We may now think of staff at heritage sites being managers, but in the days of the Ministry they were clearly seen as Custodians (see also Sweetheart Abbey). Three signs at Dumbarton Castle on the north side of the Clyde retain the old terminology. Notice the omission of the apostrophe in one of the signs, as well as the different styles of arrow directing visitors to where they can obtain tickets. There is also the inclusion of the polite, ‘Please obtain …’.

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Dumbarton Castle © David Gill

Outside the present ticket office is a slightly more recent sign, reflecting the way that the custodian’s office is not only where tickets can be obtained, but where other items can now be purchased.

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Dumbarton Castle © David Gill

Ministry Guidebooks from 1955

Caernarvon Castle

(1961)

My study of Ministry Souvenir Guidebooks has appeared in the latest number of the Journal of Public Archaeology (2018).

Abstract
The first formal guidebooks for historic sites placed in state guardianship in the United Kingdom appeared in 1917. There was an expansion of the series in the 1930s and 1950s. However from the late 1950s the Ministry of Works, and later the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works, started to produce an additional series of illustrated souvenir guides. One distinct group covered Royal Palaces: The Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Queen Victoria’s residence of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, and Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. This was followed by guides for the archaeological sites such as Stonehenge and Avebury, the Neolithic flint mines at Grime’s Graves, the Roman villa at Lullingstone, and Hadrian’s Wall. In 1961 a series of guides, with covers designed by Kyffin Williams, was produced for the English castles constructed in North Wales and that now form part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of ‘Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd’. These illustrated guides, some with colour, prepared the way for the fully designed guides now produced by English Heritage, Cadw, and History Scotland.

‘The Ministry of Works and the Development of Souvenir Guides from 1955’, Public Archaeology (2018). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14655187.2017.1484584

Guidebooks by W. Douglas Simpson

Scottish_castles_HMSO

1959 (6th impress. 1969)

W. Douglas Simpson (1896–1968) prepared a series of Ministry guidebook for sites in State Guardianship. He was lecturer in British History at the University of Aberdeen (by 1924), and then He served as Librarian and Registrar for the University of Aberdeen from 1926 through to 1966. He served as Chair of the Ancient Monuments Board for Scotland. He was awarded OBE (1954) and CBE (1962).

In 1959 Simpson prepared Scottish Castles: An Introduction to the Castles of Scotland (HMSO, 1959). In the Foreword he wrote: ‘Those who read this little book will come to realise that, small and poor as it has always been, Scotland yet possesses a distinctive castellated architecture, and one of which any nation might be proud’. There are eight sections:

  • The earliest castles
  • Castles of enceinte
  • The early tower houses
  • Bastard feudalism and the later castles
  • The later tower houses
  • The royal palaces
  • Firearms and the later “House of Fence”
  • The Scottish baronial style

Portrait here.

Several of the castles and abbeys he studied were located around Aberdeen: Tolquhon Castle (1948), Huntly Castle (1954), Kildrummy and Glenbuchat (1957); the Abbey of Deer (1952).

Kirkcudbrightshire: Threave Castle (1948)

Angus: Edzell Castle (1952); Restenneth Priory (1952)

Isle of Bute: Rothesay Castle (1952)

Midlothian: Craigmillar (1954), Crichton (1957)

East Lothian: Hailes Castle

Inverness-shire: Urquhart (1964); Beauly Priory (1954)

Roxburghshire: Hermitage (1957)

Lanarkshire: Bothwell Castle (1958)

Orkney: Kirkwall (1965)

The guidebook for Dunstaffnage (1981) contains his draft.

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(1954)

He also prepared (with V. Gordon Childe) the Illustrated Guide to Ancient Monuments … vol 6: Scotland (1954).

He prepared one guidebook for the National Trust for Scotland: Craigievar Castle, the rock of Mar (1966) (NTS). This castle is located to the west of Aberdeen.

Simpson also prepared two guidebooks for castles in England: Brough Castle, Cumbria (1949; repr. 1969) (now English Heritage); Bodiam Castle (1965) for the National Trust.

 

Hall, A. (2004, September 23). Simpson, William Douglas (1896–1968), archaeologist and historian. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. Retrieved 5 Aug. 2018, from http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-49530.

 

Hailes Castle: well-chamber

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Hailes Castle © David Gill

A narrow staircase led to an opening in the riverside wall of Hailes Castle to provide access to a well. There is a possibility that there would also have been access to the river Tyne below.

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Hailes Castle © David Gill

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Hailes Castle © David Gill

Threave Castle: harbour sign

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The harbour supplying Threave Castle is currently inaccessible by members of the public. Its location is marked by a partially obscured sign. The information board erected by Historic Scotland provides additional information on the original nature of the harbour along with some of the finds made during the excavations.

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