For Valentine’s Day: A Romantic Note to Big Old Stone Buildings

It’s Valentine’s Day and love (and the overwhelming smell of way too many roses and far too much chocolate) is in the air.  So I thought that my post today should be an ode to a dear love of mine…


(A certain boyfriend is staring in sad bewilderment  at the screen right now…and yet, is he really surprised?)

Tantallon: the first of my beloved castles.

Yes, I think that on a day of love, I must share my love for castles so that you, too, can grow to love them (even more because of course you already love them! Who wouldn’t???)

aberdour castle
At Aberdour Castle, I used my flag for the first time and officially claimed the castle as my own.

 Here in Scotland, a good weekend in my book is to go out ‘castling’.  A castling expedition involves looking up the list of castles in Scotland (or wherever I happen to be) and finding one that has not yet been visited.  Then, willing castling companions are acquired.  We next set forth into the countryside and seek out the castle(s).

My friends will tell you that as soon as the castle appears on the horizon, a manic smile appears on my face and does not fade until long after we leave the castle behind.

Yes, that is true love.

Why do I love castles?  Why, in particular, are castle ruins appealing when they are, you might say, incomplete?  After all, they don’t have roofs.  That is tragic and possibly not a good idea in a country where it rains every other day.

But you are missing the point.

Location, location, location.
For a moment, you are somewhere else entirely...

Ruins are magical.  You can get lost in them.  You can let yourself get fooled into thinking, just for a little while, that when you round the next corner you will be somewhere fantastical and not just in Scotland (yeah, uh huh,  just in Scotland, you say, but you know what I mean!).

In one of the latest castling adventures, I went to Linlithgow Palace and I was entranced.  I was separated from my companions and wandered long empty corridors, climbed curving staircases, sneaked silently through large, roofless halls with tall, sun-washed walls and narrow windows.  It was another world.

Of course, these moments cannot last.  Soon, reality hits like a ton of unwritten pages of an essay (exactly like that, actually) and the castles are left behind.

urquart castle loch ness
Up at Loch Ness, Urquart Castle is a desolate, lovely ruin. Yes, those two words can go together.
Linlithgow Palace won my heart!

But before I leave, I claim them, I hug them, and I bid them a fond au revoir. They are not just old stone buildings.  They are my castles.

We have established a bond, you see.

It is Valentine’s Day and my words of love are for castles: old, broken, power and beautiful – is it any wonder that we love them? (By now, you can have no doubt that you do, surely!)

**Relax, boyfriend, you are loved too… but, well, castles!**


For more story-related thoughts on castle ruins, take a look at my post on the Weight of History.