Researching Medieval Scotland

Dunnottar Castle Overlooking the Sea

Castles Made for Defense

Researching Medieval Scotland, and I mean–around the period of 1100–isn’t easy. What is written is usually from the standpoint of the English–who viewed the Highlanders as barbarians. It wasn’t until much later when we had Scottish writers who wrote about the beauty of the lands and of its people.

From earlier on, the Romans had built wooden fortresses, and eventually many of these were turned into stone castles. Castles were not just a home for a ruling laird, but were their means of defense. So when designing a castle, that took priority–making it easily defensible with the least amount of men. In my time period, swords and daggers and arrows were used. So stairs wound down to give the defender a way to fight his encroaching enemy whereby the invader could not swing his sword. Ingenious, eh?

Narrow curving castle stairs

Narrow curving castle stairs for defense

And windows were small enough to shoot arrows out of them, but not big enough to allow a person to climb in. They didn’t have glass windows yet, so that also helped to prevent the winds and rains coming in. In Dunnottar Castle, the window for the kitchen was big, but it overlooked the North Sea, no way for anyone to climb the treacherous cliffs and get in.

One thing you might not know was that the castles were not really cold inside. Not like the weather outside. This is because the walls were so thick. Can you imagine having 8-10 thick stone walls, sometimes even thicker, to keep the cold and heat out? No wonder their homes have withstood the ravishes of time over the centuries so well. If only mine could hold up so well!! And cut down on the energy costs during the summer and winter!

This shows a later picture where they cut the arrow hole into a round hole to use to fire a cannon at approaching ships.

Round hole at Dunnottar to fire cannons at ships.

Round hole at Dunnottar to fire cannons at ships.

Winning the Highlander's Heart

Lady Anice vows to flee the amorous advances of King Henry I, and return to her home in the Highlands, where she hopes to find a laird to wed, when she learns her staff has vanished. Premonitions of imminent danger warn her of foul play and she is certain she is cursed when it comes to marriage.
The king orders the Highlander Laird Malcolm MacNeill, seeking an English bride, to provide the lass safe escort and learn what has become of her staff. Escorting her home safely proves a dangerous trial in and of itself and keeping his heart out of the matter, when the king wishes her wed to one of his loyal barons instead, complicates issues further. Losing his heart to the lass means Malcolm could very well lose his head.

I do now have book marks for the Highlander series, so if anyone wants one, just send me an SASE and I’ll send an autographed book mark! terryspear (at) ymail (dot) com

“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality.”


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