There are many reasons I like to travel, but meeting up with like-minded people is high on the list. I thought I was the only one who liked to explore old churches and graveyards, but my new found friends in Scotland are also avid history fans and enjoy a wander back in time.
In Duffus (a wonderful name in itself), near Elgin in the north of Scotland, is St Peter’s Church and the Cross. It was rebuilt in the 18th century, only retaining the base of a 14th century tower and a fine late mediaeval vaulted porch.
A small watch house was erected in 1830 where a guard kept a lookout for grave robbers, whose nefarious activities were quite lucrative in the past.
However it wasn’t the buildings that captured my attention, but the tombstones, which ranged from a simple rectangular stone to obelisks, albeit the pointed tops worn away due to the inclement weather.
The gravestones revealed something I’d previously learned on a visit to Scotland: In days gone by women did not take the surname of their husband. This can clearly be seen on the gravestone of John McPherson and Helen Urquart who died in the late 1800s. If you look carefully the gravestone also suggests that a girl child would take her mother’s surname, the boy child, his father’s. Every day is a school day!
From St Peter’s Church I headed to Duffus Castle, another ruin which dates back to 1151, when it began motte and bailey castle situated on an artificial earth mound. A stone castle was later built on the site in the early 1300s and even though there is little left modern means have been used to strengthen it. Signs advised visitors to follow the pathways around the castle as the stone and mound are still subject to erosion.
A lovely picture of what the castle once looked like aided my imagination. It was more like a three storey tower surrounded by a stone wall with one single entrance, complete with portcullis. The nobility lived within the tower, whereas the local people were housed in cottages protected by an outer wall. All in all it is typical of a defensive structure seen throughout Europe in the Middle Ages.
Visiting sites such as Duffus Castle makes me thankful to be alive in the 21st century for, despite some horrors in the world, my life is far easier than those living years ago. Less manual labour, better medical facilities, more comfortable housing, a range of wider foodstuffs and the opportunity to travel are, all in all, better today than in the distant past.
I visited Scotland last year (June 2022) and I invite you to click on the links to read of my exploration in the Highlands, my day at the castle in Sterling near Glasgow and my discoveries in its capital: Edinburgh.
Other blogs tell of my fleeting three-day visit to the far north of Scotland in August 2023
Lossiemouth was a lovely seaside town near the busy RAF Base. Please click on the link to learn more.
The Sueno Stone opens up a host of questions regarding a tribe called the Picts. Discover more by clicking on the link: