Castles Of Scotland, Part Four: St Andrews, Dirleton

by Derrick Bostrom in


I'll admit it: my wife and I greatly preferred the Scottish west coast -- with its gorgeous coastline, quaint towns and awesome highland scenery to the comparatively bleak east. If I hadn't determined that Dunottar was vital to our sightseeing interests, we might have skipped the east coast altogether. But then we would have missed the thoroughly charming town of St. Andrews. Though it was surrounded by industrial and military blight (with the ghostly whine of jets howling overhead day and night), the town itself was a picturesque college town (it's the home of the University of St Andrews, the oldest in the country). It's also "the home of golf" and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

St. Andrews Castle was the home base of the Catholic Church in Scotland back before the Protestant Reformation and played a key role in many stirring battles during both the Wars Of Scottish Independence and the Scottish Reformation. During those times it was destroyed and rebuilt a time or two, captured, recaptured and re-recaptured. The castle's most interesting features are beneath it: a "bottle dungeon" carved in its stone foundations, and a series of "siege mines" created in an attempt to tunnel under its formidable walls, an attack that was thwarted by an opposing series of "counter siege mines." Additionally, the castle and cathedral, both perched right on the coast, offer great views of the North Sea.

Direlton Castle is also on the east coast, though not right up against the sea. But unlike the Fife region north of the Firth Of Forth, the area around Direlton, south of the water, is a much more pastoral neighborhood. In fact, once I saw the Direlton Castle, I knew I'd finally found the one I wanted to live in myself. A beautiful drawbridge, an intact dovecot, a fully functional dungeon (right next to the kitchen and food stores and right below the chapel), excellent toilet facilities -- this one has everything I need. The grounds are magnificent as well, sporting a bowling green from the Victorian period, as well as the largest herbaceous garden in the world. Glorious on the outside and complex on the inside, Direlton is all I'd hoped to find when I first plotted my little quest.

Sadly, it was also the last castle we were to visit. After a nasty snarl in the evening traffic out of Edinburgh, we returned to Glasgow, and the next day, we were back home. A refreshing break from routine in the short term, our trip to Scotland has left lingering within me an even discomfort than I had before I left. But, hey: I got some cool photos.

St. Andrews Castle

St. Andrews Castle

St. Andrews Castle

St. Andrews Castle

St. Andrews Castle

St. Andrews Castle

St. Andrews Cathedral

St. Andrews Cathedral

St. Andrews Cathedral

St. Andrews Castle

St. Andrews Cathedral

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle