Scottish and English Highlights

Culross

Culross is a 17th century formal Royal burgh in Fife, just a short trip outside of Edinburgh. One of the added benefits is that it brings you over one of the newest Forth Bridges that cross the Firth of Forth.

Culross offers a Mercat Cross, cobblestone streets, a tolbooth, and narrow wynds (alleys). The town is situated on the muddy shores of the Forth. It once exported coal and salt and even had a trade monopoly in the manufacture of baking girdles (griddles). Culross’s fortunes changed when the coal in the area was exhausted, causing other towns in the area to prosper while Culross remained somewhat frozen in time, a sort of ghost town. Victorian developments and more modern architecture never replaced the 17th and 18th century merchant houses.

In the 1930s, the National Trust for Scotland bought the decaying historically significant properties, including Sir Bruce of Carnock’s Culross Palace from the 1590s, a Study, and Culross Town House. The Cistercian House of Culross Abbey founded in 1217 is also a short walk from the town center.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle sits on a volcanic plug, one of the seven Hills that make up city of Edinburgh. The city itself has to be one of the most stunning cities you can visit, offering not only the castle, but also multiple Georgian buildings, a beautiful Cathedral, parks, Holyroodhouse Palace, museums, nightlife, and just about anything else you can look for while on a vacation.

The Royal Mile is the biggest draw for tourists because it begins with the Palace of Holyroodhouse and ends with Edinburgh Castle. On either side of the Royal Mile are Old Town and New Town (1760s to 1890s), which are also excellent places to visit. Leith on the Forth is another popular place to visit. That is where you will find the Royal yacht Britannia.

The architecture in Edinburgh is pretty spectacular, and it seems like every single building has gigantic Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian columns, except for the very modern Scottish Parliament building, which seems like it was plopped into the middle of a neighborhood where it doesn’t belong.

Jedburgh

Jedburgh is famous for its ruined Abbey, which was nearly destroyed by the English Earl of Hertford’s forces in 1544–45, during the “Rough Wooing”. English King Henry VIII (1491–1547) attempted (forcefully) to persuade the Scots that it was a good idea to unite the kingdoms by the marriage of his son to the infant Mary, Queen of Scots (1542–87); the Scots disagreed and sent Mary to France instead.

Scotland has many ruined Abbeys, but there are still some elaborate details carved into this particular one. This Abby was under construction for so long that no one builder saw the project from start to finish. But then again laying the foundation started in 1150! We had fun with some of the displays where we rebuilt arches using blocks of wood that serve as replicas of stones.

Liverpool Docklands

(Scroll down past text for the portfolio of photos!)

When I told some people I just met (from London) that our next stop on our itinerary was Liverpool, they gasped. Why would I go to horrible Liverpool when there is so much more to see that is beautiful and quaint on the way to Edinburgh. Well they didn’t know me very well, but Liverpool was everything I was after!

The waterfront/docklands (Albert Dock and Tate Liverpool area), particularly at sunset is spectacular. I’m not much of a Beatles fan, so that didn’t really appeal to me. I can only think of one song “Hey Jude” and that’s about it. But that meant I was in Liverpool for all the right reasons.

Once a thriving city, years of downfall plagued this majestic city as it it does all places having tremendous wealth and prosperity when something better comes along or when human rights are finally fully appreciated. The city has had a recent resurgence, becoming a well-deserved UNESCO European Cultural Capital in 2008. Six city sites are recognized as maritime and mercantile achievements dating back to Britain’s most globally influential period.

In the 19th century, Liverpool was a major port of departure for Irish and English emigrants to North America. Home to Cunard and White Star lines, Liverpool was also the RMS Titanic’s and RMS Lusitania’s port of registry.

Great Britain was a major market for cotton imported from the Deep South of the United States, with textiles being a major industry in the country. Given the crucial place of both cotton and slavery in the city’s economy, the city was pro-Confederate (some photos show the Alabama House and Charleston House. At some points Liverpool was wealthier than London, explaining the grand civic buildings on William Brown Street.

Highlights included:

  • Radio City tower on Queen Street, which marks the city’s center.
  • The Royal Liver Building, with the 18-foot copper mythical “Liver Birds” birds on top, signaling the waterfront and River Mersey.
  • Lime Street Station and William Brown Street, a boulevard of municipal buildings, including the Walker Art Gallery and World Museum Liverpool.
  • Albert Dock, where you can find all the Beatles stuff and multiple other museums.
  • Hope Street, which connects the city’s two cathedrals, both easily recognizable on the skyline. Liverpool Anglican Cathedral is the biggest church in Britain and Liverpool Catholic Cathedral is a color-filled modern Catholic Church that is so unique compared to its grand rival.
  • Tate Liverpool resides in a converted Albert Dock warehouse as an offshoot of the London-based art galleries.
  • Cavern Club has been reproduced because the original venue was demolished years ago. The club the still hosts live acts.

I think this city will continue to improve, as it already has so much to offer. It was truly a trip highlight in my humble opinion. I took 756 photos, most of which I opted not to post because I saw beautiful things everywhere I looked!

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle sits atop Castle Hill, which is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs (making it a very good location for defense). Much of the castle was built in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, although a few structures do date back to the fourteenth century.

Before Scotland’s union with England, Stirling Castle was a Scottish royal residence (as well as a fortress). Multiple Scottish Kings and Queens were crowned at Stirling, including Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1542.

See the Stirling Heads Post for more interesting history of this castle.

Stirling Heads

There exists a unique collection within Stirling Castle (located in Stirling, Scotland). The castle itself is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, both historically and architecturally. See Stirling Castle.

The Stirling Heads are one-meter wide 16th-century oak medallions carved with images of kings, queens, nobles, Roman emperors and characters from the Bible and Classical mythology. They decorated palace ceilings until a collapse in 1777, after which they were dispersed.

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