And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

onsdag 13. april 2011

Southbound Again

Boy's bound to keep moving,
Seems like the boy is bound to roam
- Southbound again, Dire Straits

These are some pictures I took on my way south from Edinburgh, moving through the North with its shifting scenery of North Sea fishing coves, the heavily industrialised Tyneside and the placid, ever-quiet Yorkshire. It was a beautiful day and I was constantly reminded of the Dire Straits song Southbound again from their debut album, humming it in my mind as I divided my concentration between the changing landscape and the word-search magazine I had brought with me.

I've seen Tweed's silver streams,
Glitt'ring in the sunny beams,
- Flowers of the Forest, Alison Cockburn

I may not stay, I'm bound for leaving,
I'm bound to ramble and to roam
-Fare Thee Well Northumberland, Mark Knopfler

Every single time I roll across the rolling River Tyne
I get the same old feeling
Every time I'm moving down the line
-Southbound again, Dire Straits

 Southbound again

"El-ahrairah, your people cannot rule the world, for I will not have it so. All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed."
- Watership Down, Richard Adams

For those who don't take the reference (or notice the rabbit):

søndag 10. april 2011

Epistles from Edinburgh - Defender of the North

Into the Castle of Edinburgh, standing in the midst of that city on the summit of an extraordinary rock, I was cast with several hundred fellow-sufferers, all privates like myself, and the more part of them, by an accident, very ignorant, plain fellows.
-St. Ives, Robert Louis Stevenson

That Castle was the strength of all that state
Vntill that state by strength was pulled downe,
And that same citie, so now ruinate,
Had bene the keye of all that kingdomes crowne
- The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser

After I had said goodbye to my hospitable friends I headed up the summit to have a look inside Edinburgh Castle, also called the Defender of the North. It is an impressive building complex whose stone walls and towers almost seems to emerge from or to have grown into the very rock it rests on. The castle is not, however, majestic, nor does it tower above the city, because it appears too much part of the mountain, but it is nonetheless a site well worth exploring both for its architectural features and its rich and long history. 

And it's cold on the tollgate
With the wagons creeping through
-What it is, Mark Knopfler

This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
Unto our gentle senses.
- The Tragedy of Macbeth, William Shakespeare

This way, my lord; the castle's gently render'd:
The tyrant's people on both sides do fight;
The noble thanes do bravely in the war;
The day almost itself professes yours,
And little is to do.
- The Tragedy of Macbeth, William Shakespeare

I had been then some days upon a piece of carving, - no less than the emblem of Scotland, the Lion Rampant.
- St. Ives, Robert Louis Stevenson

During Edward I of England's Scottish campaign, starting in 1296, the castle was besieged and eventually taken over by the English. Robert the Bruce, king of the Scots, managed to reclaim it in 1314 after 30 of his men had made a succesful assault by night, killing the guards and opening the gates to let the rest of the army enter. Robert the Bruce, however, realised he could not afford to keep the garrison properly manned and therefore burned down, according to my guide, almost the entire castle, save the 12th century chapel dedicated to St. Margaret of Scotland. Consequently the castle as it stands today is an eclectic mix of various ages improving what preceding generations had already constructed. The portcullis gate above, for instance, was built in the period 1574-77 following The Long Siege of 1571-73 and replaced the constable tower from earlier times. The top storey is a Victorian addition. 

Guided tours started a quarter past ten, included in the ticket, and people gathered nearby the cannons where stood a kilt-clad Scotsman with a fascination for Blackadder and a typically Scottish name I have now forgotten. As he pointed out this was not only a very fine day but also a very warm day according to Edinburgh standards. Personally I didn't think it was very warm despite the sun, and of course the sky's nice imitation of the Scottish flag, but considering he walked about in a kilt I'm happy he managed to see it that way. 

(...) he had a plan that was so cunning you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel.
- Our guide narrates about the assault of 1314

The garrison sleeps in the citadel
With the ghosts and the ancient stones
- What it is, Mark Knopfler

High up on the parapet
A Scottish piper stands alone
And high on the wind
The Highland drums begin to roll
And something from the past just comes
And stares into my soul
- What it is, Mark Knopfler

The first part of the tour was up the French Road, a cobbled, bending stretch of uphill road that can be seen closest to the castle wall in the picture below, and the name stems from the fact that it was made by prisoners taken captive in the Napoleonic Wars. The road was commissioned because the original cobblestones - closest to the camera in the picture below - were too slippery for horses to manage whenever there had been a rainfall, which of course was, and is, a frequent occurrence in Edinburgh. It is this band of prisoners Robert Louis Stevenson writes about in his novel St. Ives.

The more part, as I have said,were peasants, somewhat bettered perhaps by the drill-sergeant, but for all that ungainly, loutish fellows, with no more than a mere barrack-room smartness of address: indeed, you could have seen our army no more discreditably represented than in this Castle of Edinburgh.
- St. Ives, Robert Louis Stevenson

The chapel dedicated to St. Margaret of Scotland (c. 1045-1092), an Englishwoman married to king Malcolm III of Scotland.She exacted great piety in her lifetime and was canonised by Pope Innocent IV in 1250. This chapel was raised in the early 12th century by her son David I ( ruled 1124-53). Her husband Malcolm III is the Malcolm featuring in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Facsimile of St. Margaret's gospel book.

Having a particular fascination for stone figures in architecture I was delighted to see this one. The sensation waned quickly when I had a closer look and discovered that this is a stiff and ugly modern rendition, quite possibly Victorian.

 In this building is an interesting array of tableaux depicting the history of the Scottish crown jewels, leading on to the chamber of the regalia themselves. It is prohibited to take pictures of the regalia, but I didn't think it was probably more than allowed to photograph the sceneries until it was to late. I apologise.

As you can see, the dragons are far more edged and roughly rendered than the smooth Medieval carvings I'm used to.

The War Memorial, containing a list of every Scottish soldier killed in warfare from World War I and onwards.

Make all our trumpets speak: give them all breath,
Those clamorous harbingers of blood and death.
-The Tragedy of Macbeth, William Shakespeare

The Fore Well, the main water supply of the castle up to the 19th century.

 The dog cemetery.

Mons Meg, a 15th century siege gun crafted in modern-day Belgium. It was given to James II in 1457. It has not been fired since its barrel burst in 1681.

Your burgh of beggeris is ane nest,
To schout thai swentyouris will not rest.
All honest folk they do molest,
Sa piteuslie thai cry and rame.
- To the Merchants of Edinburgh, William Dunbar

 The French Road.

 The One O'Clock Gun. The cannonfire was used as a time signal for sailors on the Port of Leith.

Calton Hill.

Edinburgh and beyond.