Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Scotland and Ireland Day 3 - Inveraray and Stirling...

The Husband and I woke up and ate breakfast at the hotel restaurant then immediately got on the road again. We had wanted to drive up to Loch Ness, but it was a four hour drive from the hotel, and after spending the whole day before driving, the last thing he wanted to do was another long drive. We opted for the town of Inveraray instead because they had a Victorian jail that was open for people to visit.

We stopped at Loch Long to stretch our legs:

(A statue with information about the loch and surrounding area)

(Scottish Thistle)

(Loch Long at low tide)

From there the highway took us up into the hills - it was a scary drive at times because the car was really close to the edge of the road (especially because the husband had a habit of drifting to the left)

But it was totally worth it in the end:

(I really wish we could have stopped to take a better picture of this, but they were
doing work on the road, so getting out of the car was nearly impossible)

We reached Inveraray by lunch, and, after parking the car, we planned to get a bite to eat, but we were distracted by the jail. The tour started off with a history of justice in Scotland and gave accounts of people and what they were accused of and how they were punished for it. Some crimes called for having thumbscrews applied to their hands, other crimes got the boot. One person had their ears nailed to a post and one poor lady accused of witchcraft was hung and then burned at the stake. Yikes!

Over time the justice system changed, and the Inveraray jail was originally a two story building behind the court house. Eventually, as the years passed, the jail became overcrowded. Due to that and prison reforms, a new jail was built and the old jail became the Woman's jail. During the tour there were employees dressed in period costumes and answering questions. One man was a Prison Warden, and directed new 'prisoners' into the exercise yard before sending us on our way to the old jail. The other was a man dressed as a prisoner in the new jail. He spent his time in one of the cells, leaning against the door, pretending to be a mannequin and scaring people as they walked in. Since both the Husband and I worked at Halloween Haunt as monsters when we were younger we were actually familiar with this scare tactic, so he didn't get us, but it was fun to hear the screams of other guests as we walked about the prison.

(The Washroom)

(Where coal was stored - many a prisoner would climb up the coal pile to escape)

(Exercise Yards)

Afterwards we visited a chapel next to the car park which was built by a local Duke for his wife. They had a tour of the bell tower, but we decided not to go on it because 1) that would have meant climbing stairs, and the Husband doesn't like stairs and 2) I don't think they were open.  

And finally we wandered down to Inveraray Castle - which was really just a manor house. We didn't go inside though because it was getting a bit too late in the afternoon - if we had stayed any longer we probably would not have made it to Stirling before dark. 


Afterwards we got back in the car (completely forgetting that we hadn't gotten lunch or tea like we said we would) and drove down to Stirling.

(A church in Stirling)

(A memorial for Scottish soldiers)

On the drive the Husband and I realized that we still had yet to eat anything, and planned to get something at Stirling, but we got there around 4:30 in the afternoon and the Castle closed at 6pm so there wasn't enough time. The Husband and I began joking around with each other saying that this would be the first Honeymoon in history where no one gained any weight. 

(Outer Bailey Gates)

(Inner bailey gate)

(The Great Hall - built by James IV to impress Margaret Tudor)

(A display on how a Medieval or Renaissance Kitchen worked)

(Examples of Tudor clothing)

(A fireplace in one of the King's receiving rooms)

(Replicas of the Stirling heads)

(Margaret Tudor's bedroom)

Something I learned while at Stirling is that the nobility (it was unclear if this extended to the upper class) had two bedrooms; a public one for show and then a smaller private one to sleep in. One we saw the next day at Edinburgh Castle was barely larger than our kitchen at home.

After wandering through the private chambers, including the Lion's Den, which was a central courtyard where a real lion was kept back in the day, we visited the Stirling Heads Exhibit. These round carvings decorated the ceiling of the castle, and were removed during the 1700s. However, many of the originals survived and now available to view in a room of the castle.


(Margaret Tudor)

(James IV)

I was pretty surprised to find what I suspect is a portrait of a whore among all the portraits of jesters, ladies, lords, and Roman emperors. I'm a part of a group of reenactors that portrays 'ladies of negotiable affections' at the local renaissance faire, and the portrait in question resembles one of our 'madams', so it was really a delight to find this:

(The King's Knot)

(James IV)

(The French Spur - Part of the outer defenses of the castle)

(Robert the Bruce)

(Stirling Castle as seen from the car)

Since we were starving when we got done walking around the castle, we stopped dinner while on the way back to the hotel from Stirling, and then we spent the rest of the evening watching the English version of The X Factor (which I personally liked better than the American version) before going to bed.


  1. Scottish history is so interesting. I love seeing the pictures of the jail and Stirling. I am so impressed with how you guys were able to drive everywhere and on the left side, too!