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Orchardton Tower

Dumfries and Galloway is littered with historical remains. Orchardton Tower is a free-standing round tower, the only one of its kind in Scotland, probably because it was built about two hundred years after the fashion for such towers was at its peak. The tower is now in the care of Historic Scotland.

Orchardton Tower

Orchardton Tower

Orchardton Tower, Dumfries and Galloway

Information board:-

Orchardton Tower Information Board


Orchardton Tower, Interior

Interior from tower summit:-

Orchardton Tower Interior

There’s a peculiar small ‘house’ at the top of the staircase:-

Orchardton Tower Summit

External ruins from tower summit:-

Orchardton Tower Ruins From Tower  Summit

Threave Castle

Threave Castle sits on an island in the River Dee near the town of Castle Douglas (see here and here) in Dumfries and Galloway.

There’s a fairly long walk from the car park and visitor centre to the landing area to get the boat across the river to the castle.

The walk is circular and this photo was taken on the way back to the car park:-

Threave Castle From Circular Path

Castle across River Dee:-

Threave Castle

The river apparently isn’t very deep but Historic Scotland (in whose care the castle is) is careful about how you cross. You can see the island’s jetty to the right here:-

Threave Castle

Threave Castle closer View:-

Threave Castle, Closer in

Exterior of Tower:-

Threave Castle, Exterior of Tower

Arrowslits in exterior wall:-

Threave Castle, Exterior Wall Arrowslits

Inside the tower:-

Window in Threave Castle

A model of the castle is in the case in the centre:-

Threave Castle Interior

Castle model:-

Model of Threave Castle

The First Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock Castle was moved about two nundred yards from its original location as that was deemed unhealthy.

Nothing remains of the original Caerlaverock Castle but its foundations.

This is Historic Scotland’s Information Board at the original site:-

Old Caerlaverock Castle Information Board


Old Caerlaverock Castle Foundations 1

Foundations Old Caerlaverock Castle

Foundations Old Caerlaverock Castle

Just below the wooden bridge you can see in the first foundations photo I noticed a butterfly with yellow tips to its wings. Its at the top edge of the blue flower:-

A Yellow Tipped Butterfly

Archæology on the Brough of Birsay

The Brough of Birsay is an island just off the north-east coast of mainland Orkney. I blogged here about the causeway you have to cross to access the island.

It is also home to some archæological remains (as well as a Stevenson lighthouse which we didn’t visit.) The weather was fine when we walked across the causeway to the island but while we were there it started to rain and the wind was so strong the rain was coming in horizontally, so discretion prevailed over perseverance. Even so by the time we got back to the car we were thoroughly drookit.

There was some nice geology just where the path from the causeway meets the brough proper.

Rocks, Brough of Birsay, Orkney

The archæology on the brough comes from three distinct eras. First there was some Pictish occupancy. However this Pictish symbol stone is a replica, unfortunately. (Though there was such a stone found on the brough.)

Pictish Symbol Stone, Brough of Birsay

There is a better photograph of the symbol stone on Historic Scotland’s Birsay webpage if you click through the pictures.

As the information board says there was later Norse – in two phases – and ecclesiastical building on the island.

Brough of Birsay Information Board

Remains of Norse houses:-

Remains of Norse Houses, Brough of Birsay

A later Norse house:-

Norse House, Brough of Birsay

Another later Norse house:-

Later Norse House, Brough of Birsay

Birsay may have been the home of Thorfinn the Mighty.

Brough of Birsay, Norse Houses, Information Board

Broch of Gurness, Orkney (i)

The Broch of Gurness, by the shores of Eynhallow Sound, near the village of Evie, Orkney, is quite remote, up a narrow winding road leading off the A 966. It is quite well preserved though and is in the care of Historic Scotland.

The day we were there it was driving rain. The attendant said he was on the point of giving up for the day although it was not long after lunchtime. Even so, as we were leaving another car rolled up to the car park. We had the broch to ourselves while we were there though.

Broch from site entrance:-

Broch of Gurness from Site Entrance

The first building you meet just inside the boundary, though, is called the Shamrock due to its shape. It’s the remains of a Pictish farm dating from much later than the broch and was moved to allow better exploration of the broch itself.

Shamrock Building, Broch of Gurness, Orkney

Shamrock Building Information Board

Broch of Gurness from west, showing outer rampart wall:-

Broch of Gurness, Showing Outer Rampart Wall

Broch of Gurness from south, Eynhallow Sound in background and Isle of Rousay somewhere in the mists beyond:-

Broch of Gurness, Eynhallow Sound

Broch of Gurness, plus part of rampart wall, Eynhallow Sound behind.

Broch of Gurness, Part of Rampart Wall

Broch of Gurness from southeast:-

Broch of Gurness from Southeast

Broch of Gurness, rampart wall and ditch:-

Broch of Gurness, Rampart Wall and Ditch

Broch of Gurness information board:-

Broch of Gurness Information Board

Inchcolm Abbey

The main reason to visit Inchcolm Island is to take a look at the Abbey there. This is apparently the finest surviving Augustinian Abbey in Scotland and is one of Historic Scotland’s properties. Apparently it can be hired for weddings.

This is the Abbey from the pier.

Inchcolm Abbey from Pier

This is the well preserved west side. A stitch of two photos. Note the stone roofing material. I’ve only seen this before in Yorkshire, two years ago when we visited Haworth.

Inchcolm Abbey from west

It’s possible to walk round the island a bit up towards where the abandoned WW1 and WW2 gun emplacements are. I got this nice shot of the Abbey through trees from the hill there.

Inchcolm Abbey Framed by Trees

The boat trip allows 1½ hours on the island.

Choose a nice day, though. Barring the roofed bits of the Abbey and the shop there’s precious little cover.

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