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Thursday, 25 June 2015

Stitching and Dunrobin Castle

Once again we spent the morning stitching. My group worked for 3 1/2 hours on our crewel piece, adding the bowl to our thistle and a couple of leaves. The trick with this work is getting the angle of the stitch right. Phillipa is very accurate and precise in her teaching - really helpful.
After lunch we headed off to Dunrobin Castle - the northernmost Scottish stately home. It was an hour and a half drive from Inverness, over the Canon Bridge and up the side of the Dornoch Firth.
The weather was still overcast, but dry and a little warmer than yesterday. 

Dunrobin is just past the town of Golspie.
The castle sits on a cliff above the sea. It is the seat of the Earls of Sutherland. The lands were taken by Norsemen, then retrieved by Scottish kings and granted to Hugh de Moravia whose son William was made Earl of Sutherland in 1235.
It is the oldest Earldom in Scotland. It can pass through the female line, but the two times this has happened, first in the 16th Century and again in the 17th,  led to violence and a legal dispute respectively. In the legal dispute the law decided in favour of Elizabeth, daughter of the 18th Earl. She married George Levenson Gower, an Englishman who became Marquess of Stafford and later Duke of Sutherland, creating one of the wealthiest families in Britain.  
The Countess- Duchess lent her clothes to Marie-Antoinette to aid the latter's unsuccessful escape attempt.

It was also the first Duke of Sutherland who ordered the highland Clearances, creating destitution and suffering to hundreds and death for some.
Most of the exterior to the castle was built in the 19th century by the second Duke. More work was done after a fire in 1915 while the castle was being used as s naval hospital.
There is a museum, filled during 19th century with 'curiosities' including 400 animal heads, Garibaldi's slippers and the skulls of the sons of King Lochlann of Denmark.
We waited for the castle to close, had drinks and canap├ęs in the billiard room then a private tour.
Again, no photographs permitted inside. There are significant needleworks - tapestry dining chairs worked by the Countess between 1929 and 1939, tapestry sofas, large tapestry hangings, a fire screen, samplers, dolls clothes, uniforms and gowns.
There are, of course, plenty of paintings, furniture and some very lovely ornate plaster ceilings - and fabulous gardens overlooking the sea.

We left at 6.20 pm for the 70 minute drive back for dinner.

Tomorrow we leave for Pitlochry so packing tonight.


  1. Again a wonderful experience of history and art. Your brain must be reeling. Thistle looks good.

  2. Yes, it is a bit. Blogging helps me get it straight in my head, but not being able to photograph interiors skews the narrative. We will get a cd with photographs of some of the embroideries we saw at the end - which will be good for study purposes, but not for constructing the immediate narrative - which is my method of interpreting and remembering.

  3. It is so hard to remember every day of such a full itinerary. This is such a wonderful way to record and share all your experiences
    . I an imagine it is quite tiring.

  4. Beautiful gardens, and yes, the teaching is paying off! Your thistle looks excellent. :D