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Of all the Scottish castles, Culzean in Ayrshire must have the most spectacular setting. It is perched 90 feet above the waters of the Firth of Clyde on cliffs that are riddled with caves and small bays.
Culzean was built in the late 18th century by David Kennedy, 11th Earl of Cassillis, to the designs of Robert Adam. Before this, a tower house stood on the site. But Culzean wasn't just a place of elegance and leisured living. Although you wouldn't think so nowadays, it was also a place of industry. One of the most unusual, and certainly most unexpected, of these industries was shipbuilding. At the foot of the cliffs below Culzean there still exists a small harbor and a boathouse, and it was here that the shipyard was situated.
On a summer's day, when the sea is calm and the gulls are wheeling overhead, it's a spot much loved by today's picnickers. But in its heyday, it rang to the sound of sawing, hammering and riveting as watercraft took shape.
Under a steely grey Scottish sky, the outline of Hermitage Castle slowly emerges from the damp mist. It makes an abrupt but well-defined silhouette on this quiet, lonely Scottish landscape close to the border of England. The castle's massive walls rise from the marshy ground at the head of Liddesdale valley, overlooking Hermitage water.
The "Strength of Liddesdale" has stood here for centuries. Its history is steeped in blood and charged with cruel and bizarre memories. Great and famous families like the De Soulis, Dacre, The Douglas and Bothwell, have all at some time called Hermitage theirs. In history's boiling cauldron of border conflict between England and Scotland, the castle has withstood deeds dark and foul. It comes down to us today with the reputation as Scotland's most notorious medieval fortress.
Inverquharity Castle stands above the Carity Burn about three miles northeast of Kirriemuir in Angus. Parts of it can be seen from the road, but it is not open to the public. However, the castle does, on occasion, play host to school groups and others who are likely to appreciate a guided tour of this ancient stronghold.
The founder of the Inverquharity branch of the Ogilvys was Sir John, third son of Sir Walter Ogilvy of Auchterhouse (near Dundee) who acquired the lands and barony in 1420. Sometime later the castle was built by Alexander Ogilvy, and in 1444 a license was granted by James II to install an iron yett, or gate. The license, which still exists, is in safekeeping at Register House, Edinburgh, and reads: "Rex - A Licence be the King to Al. Ogilvy of Inercarity (second baron) to fortify his house and put ane iron yet therein." Permission to add this type of defense was not given lightly and only trusted friends of the King received it, for enemies might bar their castles against him.
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