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Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Culross

I said I'd show you the photos of our visit to Culross - and here they are, at last! It's a fascinating little village dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. I'm not going to give you the whole history of the place but you can click HERE to find out more. Suffice to say it is due to the National Trust for Scotland that the village has been saved and pretty much restored to its 17th century glory! It's a living village, not just a showpiece, but it must feel like a goldfish bowl to the residents in summer, with all the visitors! These are just a few photos of the village and the most interesting of the buildings.

This is the interior of the Red Lion inn where we had lunch. You'll see the picture on the wall of the exterior of the inn... and look at the painted beams and rafters. This was a common way to decorate your grand house in centuries gone by.






An ingenious artist has painted those in the inn with modern designs. Between the beams there are beer and spirit labels and on the beams themselves are stalks of barley, hops and pint pots!

This tower belongs to the town house, the central building for the administration of the town. and in the background the ochre coloured building is what is known as the Palace, really just a grand house belonging to a wealthy family.
The Town House, Culross


Uphill from there, on the way towards the abbey is the village square with its Mercat (market) cross. External stairs were a common architectural feature in the 15/16th centuries. Most Scottish towns were built in this fashion. Generally the living quarters were upstairs, above store rooms or maybe even shops at some stage.

Another grand house is known as the Study, with its prominent tower, half glazed windows and stepped gable. We call those steps corbie stanes or crow steps (can you imagine the crows hopping up from one to another?) You see a lot of corbie stanes in old Scottish buildings - and also in some modern architecture!
The house here with the external stair is known as the Nunnery, though I don't think it was ever known to house a religious order! Although I've never found it, despite really looking closely, somewhere on the building there is supposed to be a stone head of a woman, who could have been a nun! This is my favourite building in the small town - and someone's private house! I imagine the interior to have low beamed ceilings, and tiny rooms. I'd love to see inside!





Another typical old Scottish feature is the pan tile roof, made up of terracotta S-shaped tiles that overlap each other to deflect rain water into the gullies they form between them, that in heavy downfalls they constantly run like small rivers dropping flowing waterfalls from the edges onto the pathways and lanes beneath.
I fancy there is a connection between the architecture of the Low Countries when you see these tiles, corbie stanes and bridge-like covered chimneys! I've seen similar in the Netherlands, Belgium and France.
This is the view over towards Edinburgh from the top of the terraced garden of the Palace.
As we returned to the lower part of the town again we were aware of a great squawking going on somewhere. We traced it to the garden at the back of the palace. It sounded like some hen was having a great problem with laying an egg! However when we finally tracked the sound to its source we found it was one of a number of chickens roosting in a tree. Was this the chicken version of the songbirds' dawn chorus -at dusk instead. Here's Madame Lachook taking a break from her raucous song, casting a beady eye upon us!

Before we left for home again we called into the gift shop cafe for a cup of tea and a piece of delicious tealoaf. It was dark by the time we got on our way and the view across the Forth to the petrochemical works at Grangemouth looked positively pretty - a far cry from the daylight view! It's not the clearest of photos but I include it anyway.
More from me before long then.
Talk again soon.

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