Whereas I make an effort to stick to my stated themes at Rivertop Rambles when considerating a new post, I like to keep an edge on the subject matter, too, remaining flexible when it comes to defining “rivertop” country. Yes, the tops of river systems tend to be places of cold water springs and beauty, places inhabited by the likes of wild trout. Riverbottoms, on the other hand, are often associated with warm, muddy water, and the habitat of our human masses. But if we look closely around the globe, we notice more than the stereotypes. There are plenty of riverbottoms around the planet where the waters empty out in a wild and “uninhabited” seascape. And very often these are places where our notions of wildness, natural beauty, and romance would feel right at home.
Please welcome the northeastern coastline of an “old country” known as Scotland.
Viewers of the recent “Scottish Ramble #3” may have noted that my daughter Alyssa, studying for her graduate degree at Glasgow University, has an opportunity to ramble a bit through Scotland while on break. Selections from her photo essay, “Dunnottar Castle,” reflect a February class visit to the headlands south of Stonehaven. Hopefully these photos of the site will give you a sense of “riverbottom beauty,” of a place where streams drop to the sea. Here the headlands capture the spirit of distant sources. Here the coastline beckons the imagination. And here the wild earth walks with human history in all its tragic glory.
An interface of stream and sea, of present time and human history.
During the 17th century War of Independence, the Scottish Crown Jewels were hidden at Castle Dunnottar.
The approach to Castle Dunnottar near Stonehaven on the northeastern coast of Scotland. The castle played a part in the movie Hamlet, 1990, starring Mel Gibson.
Seascape, looking out from Castle Dunnottar.
Here the cliff top with its ruined fortress is displayed with stunning effect. During the first battle of the Civil War in 1639, a Coventry army of 9000 was imprisoned at Dunnottar, where many of the soldiers died.
In 1296, Edward I of England took the castle. William Wallace took it back a year later, burning the church with the English garrison still inside. In 1650, Oliver Cromwell sacked the castle to find the Crown Jewels following an eight-month siege. The jewels were smuggled out by women in a boat.
Alyssa, trekking back carefully from the point. She reported that the walk out there was “scary,” and battered by the wind.
Out on the edge of it all, Alyssa suddenly found the scene to be “surreal and extremely peaceful.”
The Castle reminds me a bit of Dunluce Castle on the North Coast of Northern Ireland, looking across the Irish Sea toward Scotland. Of course, Dunluce is a lot easier to approach. I hope on my next trip to make it over there. Thanks for the inspiration!
You’re very welcome! Thanks for the comment. I’d love to visit the place, too, some day.
The scale is hard to imagine till you see those little people walking around in the images. What a place to build a castle.
Ken, The scale at the castle scene is really hard to gauge. Alyssa has a lot of photos of the castle interior that really put it all in perspective, with people in the courtyard, passing through the halls and dungeon, etc., but those are a bit beyond the scope of this blog.
What an amazing location! Beautiful!
A special place, for sure. Thanks for the visit and for taking the time to comment.