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.

Scotland_AM6

(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.

 

Kildrummy and Glenbuchat Castles

Kildrummy_blue

1957 (4th ed. 1978)

Kildrummy and Glenbuchat castles are close to each other in Aberdeenshire. The Ministry guidebook was prepared by W. Douglas Simpson in 1957. Simpson had prepared a series of studies on Kildrummy from 1923 to 1937. The guidebook is separated into two parts, leading with Kildrummy; each contains a section on the history and a description of the two castles. A set of black and white photographs of the two castles, and a plan of Kildrummy appear as a block in the centre of the guide; a fold-out plan of Glenbuchat appears at the end.

Guidebooks for Skara Brae

scara_brae_hmso

1983

I have noted before the official guidebook for Skara Brae on Orkney. The original edition by V. Gordon Childe dated to 1933, and the guide was revised in 1983 (D.V. Clarke with [the late] V. Gordon Childe). This 1983 edition was fully illustrated (in black and white), with sections on The site revealed; the best in northern Europe; the village and its inhabitants; a guided tour. This guide was published by HMSO.

scara_brae_hs

2012

David Clarke is the author of the Historic Scotland guide (2012). This is fully illustrated, in colour, and includes plans and reconstructions. There are three main sections: guided tour; life at Skara Brae; understanding Skara Brae. The guide includes a section on the local wildlife.

Heritage guide book advertisements 80 years on. #heritageguides

The 1937 Office of Works Official Guide for The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Abbey and Environs contained a number of advertisements which paint a picture of Edinburgh at the time.

Apart from the Motor Coach Tours and Edinburgh Rock confectionery already referred to in a previous post, a double page spread contains advertisements for Government Publications produced by His Majesty’s Stationery Office, Scotch oatmeal, and antiques.

holyroodabbeyguide1937-v

The most interesting advertisement is for James Gray & Son, Ironmonger, which features Battleship Teakwood garden seats for sale. These would have been sourced from specialist manufacturers which produced lines which effectively ‘upcycled’ materials from the military.  Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History provides the example of Hughes, Bolckow and Co. Battleship Breakers as a potential source for this heritage garden furniture.

HMSO, which for many years was the main provider of Government agency heritage site guides, used an advertising slot on this page, and also the inside back page (full page) to advertise its range of publications. The language of the advert is itself interesting, flagging the ‘authoritative’ credentials of the publisher.

holyroodabbeyguide1937-iii2

Urquhart Castle

1964

1964

Urquhart Castle stands on the shores of Loch Ness. It was placed in state guardianship in 1913. The 1964 MPBW Guide (1st edition) is by W. Douglas Simpson. It starts with a History (pp. 3-12) and followed by a Description (pp. 12-19) and a section on Relics (pp. 19-20). A fold out plan is placed inside the back cover. There are several black and white photographs, and a reconstruction of the 16th century castle by David Walker (1961).

Urquhart_HMSO

1964 (rev. 1983)

Simpson’s guide continued in print into the 1980s as the HMSO guide with revisions by Craig Lindsay and Nicholas Reynolds. A small plan is printed towards the beginning at the start of ‘a short tour’.

2002 [2009]

2002 [2009]

The Historic Scotland guide is by Chris Tabraham, Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments, and dates to 2002. This copiously illustrated guide includes illustrations, plans, and reconstructions. It starts with a Guided Tour (pp. 2-13), followed by The Story of Urquhart Castle (pp. 14-45). There is a page on the process of moving the castle into guardianship. The guide includes a helpful chart showing The Lord’s Household. For example the piper comes under the steward, or porters under the constable.

The Monasteries of North-East Yorkshire

(1962)

(1962)

I have been thinking about the development of Heritage guidebooks in the UK. One of the moves away from the ‘blue guides’ was the new guide to Stonehenge and Avebury from the late 1950s. In 1962 a new guide was published for monastic sites in the care of the Ministry of Works: Alan Phillips, A look round the monasteries of north-east Yorkshire (London: HMSO, 1962) [2 shillings]. The guide is intended for tourers. The sites selected ‘are strung out … in the following pages, presented as to a motorist on a zigzag course from York’. A distinction is made between the detailed guides and this booklet: ‘This book is designed to be only an illustrated souvenir; the visitor in search of fuller information is advised to consult Abbeys, a Ministry of Works official publication’.

The sites covered are:

  • Kirkham Priory (pp. 6-11)
  • Byland Abbey (pp. 12-17)
  • Rievaulx Abbey (pp. 18-27)
  • Mount Grace Priory (pp. 28-33)
  • Gisborough Priory (pp. 34-37)
  • Whitby Abbey (pp. 38-45)

Each site has a simple plan, and there are a number of black and white photographs. There is a single reconstruction of Rievaulx Abbey by Alan Sorrell.

Phillips was also responsible for new castle guides in Wales.

My copy formed part of the Ministry of Works library and has now been withdrawn from the English Heritage library.

Skara Brae

Skara Brae

(1977)

The Edinburgh Castle blog has reflected on the evolution of the guidebooks to the castle and it made me realise that there is little here so far on guidebooks from Scotland. One of the few was the foldout guide to the Antonine Wall (a companion to a similar one for Hadrian’s Wall).

Skara_Brae_MoW

1950

This ‘blue’ guide is the eleventh  edition (1977) of the third edition (1950) written by the prehistorian V. Gordon Childe. The guide was printed in Edinburgh by HMSO (30p) and it follows the standard blue format for sites ‘held in trust for the nation by the Secretary of State for Scotland and cared for on his behalf by the Department of the Environment’. The subtitle, used since 1950 was Ancient dwellings at Skara Brae.

The ‘Preparatory note’ informs us, ‘This guide is intended to simplify a visit to Skara Brae’.

The guide is divided into two separate sections, history and description. The history considers:

  • Discovery and excavation of the site
  • The ‘history’ of the village [and note the use of ‘history’]
  • General character of the ruins

There is a foldout-plan along with sections through the settlement.

Skara Brae

(1976)

The Department of the Environment (DOE) also published an interim report, The Neolithic Village at Skara Brae, Orkney. 1972-73 Excavations (Edinburgh: HMSO) by D.V. Clarke. The landscape format (and size) is identical to the DOE guide to the Saxon Shore.