Friday, 26 October 2012

September Oddments

Good grief, it's nearly the end of October and here I am just catching up with the loose bits of September. We'll start with a quick visit to Cardoness castle. Just outside Gatehouse of Fleet, it's only a short run from Kirkcudbright. You can just about squash a trip there in between cups of tea. It was built by the McCulloch family sometime around the 15th century

On the way in, there's a model to show what the castle would have looked like in around 1500 shortly after it was built.

Inside, most of the floors have gone (they would likely have been wooden I imagine) and you can see the fireplaces on the various levels. This was taken from what would have great hall on the second floor (that's the 3rd floor for those of you over the pond). The ground and first floors would have been cellars and kitchens and, of course, the dungeon.

Here's me standing in the main fireplace in the great hall. The hole in the side you can see there is the salt box. Salt was a precious commodity in those days and a wee cupboard at the side of the fire would have been the very dab for keeping it dry.

The salt box had a separate door into the hall.

You'd think I'd have had enough of spiral staircases this year. This one at least has a rope to hold onto.

The McCullochs were supporters of Mary Queen of Scots and in the 1560s, Queen Elizabeth of England must have felt a little threatened because she sent a spy over for a look, who reported thus -

"Cardines Towre standeth.....harde upon the watter of Flete: there can noo ordinance nor gounes endomage yt of the sea, nor there canoo artllare be taken to it upon the lande.... At the ground eb men may ryde under the place upoun the sandes one myle: and at the full sea boates of eight tonnes may come under the wall"

As you can see from this picture taken from the top of the castle, that in the following five centuries the sea has moves away some considerable distance and it doesn't look like a boat of any description, let alone eight tons, will be docking below the castle for some time to come.

Looking in the other direction you can see Gatehouse of Fleet less than a mile away and there in the car park, the Sandymobile, several flights of spiral staircase away.

There was a little time left after my visit to Cardoness Castle so I went for a little wander along the Water of Fleet where I saw these two dippers. It's reason enough to leave the house on its own.

Quite cheered by my sighting I wandered on further where, lo and behold, I saw another one.

I pass through Greenock on several occasions and have spotted this statue. It's in a most inconvenient place to stop but at the beginning of the month, I found as I was passing through, I was had a bit of free time, so parked up and wandered back to it. It's that man Andy Scott again (who appeared in last month's blog here). It's the nymph Egeria. Next to it on the pavement are the words of a poem written by local primary school girl  Jaime Nicole Lynch,

"She has a body and a cloak made of metal
She wears a crown of oak leaves on her head
She stands tall and brave
She brings joy to Greenock
When people pass by they smile at her
She is happy thay she brings joy"

We saw this curious table while drinking tea in Hexham.

This is their famous a old gaol, which we saw in the Millennium banner in the abbey a couple of blogs ago.

This is St Giles church in Chollerton in Northumbria.

Inside there are two windows to the Vicars Christopher Bird who were the vicars in 1821and 1867 respectively. This is Christopher Bird the father....

.... and his son. You'll see he holds a copy of the church (in the same way as saints connected to other churches and cathedral hold the church). It is because in 1875, under his care, a great deal of restoration was conducted on the church.

Most of the windows in the church were like these. If you'll look closely, you'll see that the pattern in them is made up of the broken remains of other stained glass windows.

Back in Evanton, we spotted this carved wooden seat in a park.

Ans a matching sofa.

As you leave the Black Isle, you'll spot a some trees festooned with old rags.  If you enter the woods you'll find the situation is quite extensive. The rags are centred round an old well known as the Clootie Well. Wells are often supposed in folk lore to have magical healing properties. This one is said to date back to, and perhaps before, the time of St Boniface around 620AD , who performed a ceremony here. It is thought that is you tie a rags to the tree, an illness or some other unfortunate situation will disappear as the rag disintegrates - people should really have considered this and looked at the biodegradability of their rag before they tied it it up - I suspect a lot of people will be waiting a long time.

Still in the Black Isle, in the village of Rosemarkie, is a small museum dedicated to the Picts (mainly their carved art) called Groam House. If you're passing, it's well worth a visit and free. Outside it they have three mosaics made by local community groups under the guidance of artist Sally Purdy, based on the work of George Bain.

The museum contains the Pictish Stone known as the Rosemarkie stone, which contains both Christian imagary....

.....and those mysterious symbols whose meanings have disappeared into the mists of time.

A last beer before going offshore. 

Monday, 15 October 2012

Hexham Abbey (part 2)

By the time I had collected together all the pictures of things that I wanted to post from Hexham Abbey, I found that there was just to much to post in one go so here's the second post from our visit there. Actually there was too much to see in one go and we had to pop out for a cup of tea in the middle as well.

This window celebrating the Reverend Sidney Savage who was made by Davidson and Walker of Newcastle in 1909 (thank you the the lady from the abbey who e-mailed me this information - the abbey website now seems abundantly clear on the matter). In the first pane it features St Etheldreda and her marriage to Ecgthrith and the second pane shows her becoming a nun.

The third pane is described as a miraculous posthumous appearance. It's patently not by Etheldreda, who is the main feature of the rest of the window, so based on the story of the abbey, I would guess it is St. Wilfrid. Either way, I hope it cheered this glum fellow up.

This set of choir seats and pulpit has very little information on it. Perhaps I just missed it but it is in keeping with a lot of painted woodwork in the church, both in the screen which appeared in the last blog and a panel of paintings with scenes from the crucifixion, so I would say it's probably around 15 century.

A few of the panels feature people in the company of skeletons.

The next two pictures are from the aforementioned panels featuring the crucifixion. Much of the painting has been rubbed of in the intervening 600 years.

A window featuring St Peter in a little chapel dedicated to St. Wilfred.

Here's the man himself, very much in that style of Russian icon painting.

This little wooden enclosure is the Ogle Chantry built for "the Celebration of Holy Communion with Special Intention for the Soul of Sir Robert Ogle" who died in 1409. 

This little triptych of paintings is thought to part of the original fittings of the chantry. It's not as skew wiff as it looks here - I couldn't get far enough away to take it all in a oner and had to put it together from three different photos.

A small anglo-saxon chalice.

From the tomb of Sir Gilbert de Umfreville

The seats you see above are misericords, which literally means "act of mercy". They had little shelves on the edge of the seat so that when they were folded up, a person could sit on them and appear to be still standing. The usually have carvings under the seat, sometimes Christian but, more often than not, obviously pagan or humorous and sometimes really quite rude.  Nothing rude here but this one's certainly an odd creature.

A small dragon

Some of the arm rests have excellent carving. This one is a vulning pelican.

This sandstone seat is known as the Frith stool. Frith is a noun meaning peace,security and freedom from molestation and as a word has long since fallen out of use. During the middle ages it sat near to the altar and anybody that reached it was under the protection of the church (back in the 12th century anyone breaking the sanctity of the church was liable to a £96 fine - that more than for breaking the sanctity of a double yellow line these days but it would certainly be a chunky sum 900 years ago)

The seat itself dates right back into the early days of the abbey in the 7th century. During the 19th century, somebody managed to break it in two and now it's been cemented together again.

To get the best view of this window by Henry Holiday, we had to photograph it from half way up the ancient staircase.