BY: WAVERLY LOWELL, CURATOR
Back from three weeks in Scotland. Following a short stop in London, I got to Glasgow for the Society of Architectural Historians annual meeting. It was great to hear papers presented by current and former students and faculty. One session focused on the architecture of the coal industry “the industry that drove industry". In the 1950s, 90% of all energy came from coal, and according to Dr. Oglethorpe of Historic Environment Scotland - April 24, 2017 was the first day no coal was burned in the UK for more than two hundred years. That Scotland had 300 coalmines was brought home on a visit to Chatelherault, (completed 1743) home of 5th Duke of Hamilton.
Although the hunting lodge designed by William Adam still stands [fig 1, 2 & 3] the Hamilton Palace, sometimes described as Scotland’s Versailles was demolished in part because the ground it stood on was unstable as a result of the coal mines underneath.
Following the conference additional tours and vacation spent visiting the island and highlands revealed a profound range of landscape and structures. The earliest of these the standing stones near the village of Callanish (Gaelic: Calanais) on the west coast of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides erected in the late Neolithic era, and a focus for ritual activity during the Bronze Age and the Bronze Age Clava Cairns near Inverness. [Fig 4, 5].
We walked through a number of buildings on the isle of Iona, where it is said that St. Columba brought Christianity to Scotland from Ireland. The abbey is the most elaborate and best-preserved ecclesiastical building surviving from the Middle Ages in Scotland’s western Isles. Nearby are the ruins of a nunnery. [Fig 6, 7]
Like the abbey on Iona, many of the windows of Glasgow’s Gothic cathedral, built from the late 12th century onwards, are comprised of clear leaded panes rather than colored ones. [fig 8-10] We surmised this may be to take advantage of the light whenever possible in such a northern location.
We visited the ruins of medieval Bothwell castle from the 13th century [fig 11], Cawdor Castle, fictional home of MacBeth, built around a 15th-century tower house, with substantial additions in later centuries.
It is surrounded by gardens, formal and wild [fig 12, 13], and Sterling Castle, which dates from the early 12th century, although the present buildings were mostly built between 1490 and 1600 [fig 14].
My favorite site was the cotton mill complex of New Lanark created in 1785 on the banks of the river Clyde. Under the management of David Dale and his son-in-law Robert Owen, it became world famous for its educational and social practices. It is now restored within a “sublime” landscape [fig 15, 16].
This wonderful trip also included crofts built from and burning peat , 18th century bridges, 19th century gothic “castles” and their Jekyllian gardens, sheep on the one-lane roads, and time spent driving along Lochs Lomond and Ness and through the Cairngorm mountains [fig 17- 21].