Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dunrobin Castle

Our Scottish adventure wouldn't be complete without a visit to a castle! And this castle is extra special because it is owned by the Sutherland clan, a clan which we proudly belong to. Dunrobin Castle is also interesting because it's haunted! The daughter of the 14th Earl of Sutherland was imprisoned by her father in an attempt to prevent her from marrying someone he considered unsuitable. She tried to escape by climbing down a rope, but she fell to her death, and since then has roamed the upper rooms of the castle in despair.

Isn't it beautiful! I especially love that bright blue clock. Imagine living in a place like this, with narrow spiral staircases and huge fireplaces and elegant portraits of dead family members on the walls. The only downside I could find was how cold the castle was! If I do end up living in a castle (which, at this point, is not likely, thanks to Kate Middleton), we will have plenty of majestic fireplaces just like this one:

The Sutherland motto is written on this fireplace in the entrance hall: "Sans Peur," meaning "Without Fear." "Frangas non flectes" means something to the effect of, "You can bend, you will not break me." Clearly, it is not advisable to mess with a Sutherland.

Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures inside the castle, but we took plenty of pictures in the beautiful Italian gardens outside! That building in the back of the picture is a museum housing the stuffed heads of the many animals that the Sutherland family killed and brought back from their expeditions to Africa. There were elephants, giraffes, rhinoceroses, lions, and dozens and dozens of other animals. It was vaguely terrifying.

We watched a Falconry show after touring the gardens, and we saw hawks, falcons, and owls swooping right over our heads! The owl's wing even brushed my hood, which I kept up the whole time just in case. I get a little nervous when birds fly over me, because... well let's just say I've had a couple bad experiences and leave it at that. I try to keep this blog classy.

The whole time we were in this garden, the only thing I could think about was the incredible game of Ghost in the Graveyard we could play there. Casey, get your cute little self on over here right now and let's do it! And bring the Jackson family too because there are plenty of dirty places that I just know Josh would hide in.

Like I said before, you don't mess with the Sutherlands. They gon' find you.

To top it all off, the castle is right on the beach. How perfect! Can you imagine waking up every morning, looking out the window, and seeing this perfect view? I love all the different shades of green in the garden. It creates a sense of depth and mystery, like you could explore there forever and still not discover everything this garden has to offer.

After we left Dunrobin Castle, we stopped by a small town called Dornoch to look at some beautiful stained-glass windows in the church. The most notable thing we discovered in this church was the sarcophagus of Richard de Moravia, who was believed to be the founder of the church. It is said that he was killed in a battle against the Scandinavians, but not before he killed one of the enemy with nothing but the leg of a horse. And yes, he was also a Sutherland. Can you say Sans Peur?

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