Saturday, 19 November 2011

Castles Continued...

Today I'm visiting Castle Campbell. Yipee!

It's a perfect little Scottish stronghold to use as a venue for weddings, picnics, and generally just a gem to visit. Being high up in the hills the 'going up' to it can be a little problematic though, so you just might need your wellies and a stout walking stick...but don't try to take up your wedding car to the top car park if it's a big Daimler or anything sizeable! Hmmm... a Range Rover is probably your best bet for that! Or...flatties on your feet.

So..what about it then?

The site of Castle Campbell near Dollar in the Ochil Hills, Clackmannanshire, Scotland, has had some form of fortified structure on it since the 11th century.

The oldest part of the present building was built in the 15th century when it was named ‘Castle Glume’ (gloom). The name was perfect for it can be an eerie old stronghold standing between two ravines, the Burn of Care on one side, and the Burn of Sorrow on the other. The setting is highly dramatic in all weathers. Often the mist rolls in and shrouds the area. In good weather the view down the valley is spectacular. With those names gloomy seems to fit very well.

The castle was originally owned by Clan Stuarts but ownership of the castle passed to Colin Campbell, 1st Earl of Argyll, through marriage in approx. 1465. He renamed it Castle Campbell in 1489. For the next 200 years the tower stronghold was inhabited by Campbells till they decided it was easier to forgo all the steps and difficult valley access, at which point they went to live in a more modern townhouse setting in Stirling.

The imposing castle tower stands 20 metres high and dominates the courtyard below. The servants’ entry point was at ground level but the main access was at first floor access, usual for the times, use of the outside staircase being the norm.

The tower had 4 floors of accommodation. Storage was in the cellars at ground level, the hall sat at first level, and private chambers occupied the upper two floors. Two grotesque carved figures decorate the third floor chamber vaulted ceiling. The masks would have been receptacles for lights to hang from and, I can only imagine, would have suitably deserved their status as the Green Men.

Across the courtyard a two-storey range was built around 1500 as extra accommodation and provided a larger public reception space. The great hall was situated here, with a withdrawing chamber at one end and the court kitchen at the other. Below was a series of vaulted storage rooms.

The Duke of Argyll showed his support of Oliver Cromwell and allowed Cromwell’s forces to occupy the castle in 1653. Not everyone was happy about this though, and Monk had it torched in 1654.

Over the centuries many important people visited and stayed at Castle Campbell. Mary Queen of Scots and John Knox are two of these.

I count myself among those lucky people to have visited the castle for a wedding in 2007 and it has since become a VERY BIG family favourite!

I definitely recommend that you try it sometime. If you have drop me a line and tell me all about your experience of it.


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