Sunday, April 13, 2014

Craigmillar Castle: Edinburgh's other castle

Entry for 12 April 2014:

Diane’s back from the US, so yesterday we went off for another Saturday Adventure, this time to Craigmillar Castle, on the east side of Edinburgh.  With the oldest bits built in the 14th century, it’s almost as venerable as Edinburgh Castle to the west.  In fact, from the upper ramparts of Craigmillar Castle, you can see Edinburgh Castle in the distance.  As abandoned Scottish castles go, Craignmillar is a remarkably well-preserved.  It sits at the top of a ridge, with wonderful views in all directions:  Panning clockwise from Edinburgh Castle, you see the old town of Edinburgh, St Giles etc, then just before you get to Holyrood Palace, what you get instead is the back side of Arthur’s Seat, which is highest point in the area.  After that, the Firth of Forth, East Lothian, and finally the Pentland Hills.

The castle is nicely symmetrical, yet complicated and disorienting in its internal structure, where you go back and forth between the large central tower and the two adjacent, flanking ranges of more recent origin without realising you are doing so.  There are stairs everywhere, large and small circular ones, even straight ones.  The most unusual feature of the castle is the remains of a ornamental pool in the shape of a large letter “P” (for “Preston”, one of the families to own the place at one time) in what used to be the garden below the castle.

Although very windy when we visited, it would be a great place to go back to with visitors looking for a satisfying castle experience without the crowds and over the topness of Edinburgh’s other castle.

(Amusingly, we were startled in church this morning when a Craig Miller got up to read the lessons.  We’re reasonably confident that there is no relationship between the person and the castle.)

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