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This is the place to search for places and things of interest to visit in Britain, by name, location, type, keyword – or just have a browse. It is a growing directory – 700+ entries as of October 2019. Most entries have links for further information.
The supposed site of Scotland's first church, built by St Ninian in the late 4th or early 5th century and known as the 'Candida Casa' - or 'white house' - hence 'whithorn'. There are the modest remains of a 12th century Premonstratensian abbey church, a shrine to St Ninian, a 19th century parish church dedicated to St Ninian and a small museum which contains the Latinus Stone, Scotland's earliest Christian monument.
This place is for enthusiasts only. The museum has limited opening - check before making a special trip. Whithorn itself has limited facilities.
A 17th century residence (possibly the original Maxwell House?!), built inside a forbidding triangular medieval fortress, surrounded by a romantic moat, besieged by the English, ruined by religion. Plus a colony of Natterjack toads AND the site of an earlier castle.
What more could you ask?
It is about 6 miles south of Dumfries off the B725. Follow the A75 west from the M6/M74.
14th century stronghold of the Black Douglases, built by Archibald the Grim, Threave Castle stands on an island in the river Dee. Access is via a small boat, summoned by ringing a bell...fabulous! Not much to see, but worth it for the excitement.
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park offers the romance of Britain's largest lake (will you take the high road, or the low road?), sea lochs, Rob Roy's cave, mountains in excess of 3,000 feet, beautiful glens, forests and wildlife. And it's right on Glasgow's doorstep. The Trossachs is an area between Loch Lomond and Stirling, which includes lochs, hills, forests and villages. But the entire park covers an area of 720 square miles.
Impressive ruins of the fortress of the Red Douglases, built in the 14th century. Besieged by James IV and V, it ultimately fell to Oliver Cromwell's forces under General Monck in 1651, and was destroyed. It is an unusual castle; situated on a headland, it has a single curtain wall blocking off the entire site, with defence on the remaining three sides relying on the sheer cliffs and the surrounding sea. Tantallon offers great views of the Bass Rock - and a grim pit prison. Ugh!
The tiny ruins of Blackfriars' Chapel are the only visible remains of a Dominican Friary that was established in St Andrews c1464. The friars wore black robes - hence the name. The chapel was built in 1525 as an extension to the church, but was destroyed during the Scottish Reformation, presumably when, or shortly after, the friars were 'violently expelled' in 1559. So, there's very little to see but it's worth having a look when you're in town.
There is a tradition that the origins of Culross were as a 6th century Christian community, headed by St Serf. St Mungo, or St Kentigern, is reputed to have been born here and a chapel, the ruins of which can be visited, was built on the site of his birth. An abbey was founded in the 13th century and the monks began coal mining. There was an iron industry too, and salt panning. It was a busy port. In 1575, Sir George Bruce, a descendant of Robert the Bruce, was granted the lease of the abbey's collieries. Bruce built what is believed to be the first coal mine to extend under the sea, and invented the means by which it could be kept drained. He was also the builder of Culross Palace. James VI visited and granted the burgh of Culross royal status – so as ‘the Royal Burgh of Culross’, it prospered. However, a great storm destroyed the submarine coal mine. For a while, Culross had a thriving boot and shoe industry. But industries declined and so did the town. The National Trust for Scotland acquired the palace in the 1930s and set about preserving and restoring it, as well as many of the town’s other buildings. The result is that Culross looks like something from the 17th century, albeit a little sanitised version of it (thank goodness). In addition to the ochre-coloured palace and its garden, highlights include the Town House (reputedly used as a prison for witches) and the abbey. But simply wandering round the old cobbled streets is very pleasant too.
There is a car park a short walk from the village centre.
Culross Abbey was founded by Malcolm, earl of Fife in 1217-1218 as a daughter house of the Cistercian monastery at Kinloss. The abbey church was built soon after, with work continuing into the 1300s. The abbey had a reputation for producing fine books, but monastic life came to an end with the Reformation of 1560. The choir and presbytery of the abbey church were taken over as the parish church, but most of the abbey buildings fell into ruin, so little remains. What there is is fascinating, however (including a climb up a ladder into the remains of the vaulted refectory). The church itself is cruciform and contains several items of particular interest. Probably the most impressive is the Bruce Vault, built in 1642, which houses the marble memorial to Sir George Bruce, builder of Culross Palace, and his wife. The memorial includes eight kneeling statues, representing the couple's children, in front of the memorial. There are also the effigies of a knight in armour and a lady, John Stewart of Innermeath, Lord of Lorn, and his wife, dating from 1445 but badly defaced during the Reformation.
Culross Palace is actually not a palace, but a rich merchant's house. It was constructed, mainly in the early 17th century, by Sir George Bruce. Bruce was something of an engineer and pioneered submarine coal mining in Culross, using an Egyptian wheel to keep the mine drained. He ran salt works which burned coal to evaporate sea water. At the time, Bruce's mines and salt works were the most technically advanced such enterprises in Scotland, if not the whole of Britain. He also traded extensively with the Low Countries, Sweden and other ports along the Forth. The ‘palace’ includes many materials obtained overseas, including roof tiles and timber, and contains some astonishing painted woodwork, including ceilings, as well as contemporary furnishings. The National Trust for Scotland has done a wonderful preservation job and the palace is now finished in a warm yellow ochre colour. They have restored the unusual, if not unique, terraced garden, which grows fruit, vegetables and herbs used in the early 17th century. James VI visited in 1617 and it is believed he generously referred to Sir George’s house as ‘a palace’.
Originally a radar station, the site was converted to an underground Regional Government HQ (RGHQ) and war room during the Cold War, with capacity for 300 people, including the Secretary of State for Scotland, in the event of a nuclear attack. Now open to the public as a museum.