Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Obsession with Castles

Jennifer's post the other day got me thinking about my own obsessions. One of my biggest obsessions has always been castles. I can't seem to get enough castles. I have castle pictures in my house. Castle calendars in many of the rooms. Castle wallpaper on my computer. Half of my personal book library is castle books. I dream about castles. I write about castles. And this summer I got to go visit all the castles in Scotland (well maybe not all of them, but it sure felt like it!)

Armdale Castle


Visiting as many castles as I could was one of the goals during my three weeks there. My journey started in Glasgow before heading straight into the Highlands. I decided to follow the outer perimeter of the mainland, and to hit the major isles.

Eileen Donan Castle






I felt like a kid in a candy store! Driving up to my first Scottish castle was an experience I will never forget. As my feet hit the gravel of the parking area, I walked as fast as I could up to the castle, camera in hand, and my heart pounding. Looking back now, I smile at my haste. What was I expecting, that the castle would disappear after having been rooted to that location for the past 700 years?

Holyroodhouse Castle



My whole experience in Scotland was like that: anxious for each new experience, savoring each event as it happened, relishing every nuance of the culture and the scenery, soaking up everything I could. I didn’t sleep much as I kept up my relentless pace of exploration.


Someone asked me when I returned home what my favorite memory was. There were so many inspirational moments that it was hard to narrow it down to only one, but this memory stands out among all the others: when I stood in the center of the craggy peaks of Glencoe, surrounded by the scent of heather, listening to the wind as it brushed past my cheeks and teased my hair into wild disarray. It was then that I thought of all the people who had walked in that same spot where I stood over the centuries—early man, the Celts, the Vikings, English invaders, Highlanders throughout the ages--and I felt a part of something bigger than myself. And much to my surprise, there wasn't a castle in sight!

Have you ever taken a journey that touched you in ways you didn’t expect?

12 comments:

Ashlyn Chase November 8, 2008 at 3:31 AM  

Absolutely, Gerri,

I've heard that moments like that may be a connection to a past life. I felt that way in the English countryside and in Innsbruck Austria. Then again, it may be ancestral memories. I'm of half English decent, half Austrian and Penn Dutch.

Are you Scottish? Maybe you were royalty, longing for your castle. I was probably an English farmer. I know my Austrian ancestor came from Vienna.

Amy C November 8, 2008 at 4:32 AM  

Hi Gerri,

What a great post. I would love to someday take a vacation to Scotland. My husband thinks I'm nuts.:)

I just learned of your books the other day and picked up Warrior's Lady and ordered the first two. I'm still waiting for them. They look very good!

Terri November 8, 2008 at 4:44 AM  

I loved visiting castles when we lived in Germany. I have to admit that the most impressive and one I could have just looked at forever was in Luxenburg. We were coming around the mountains and as we came around the bend, there in the distance was a storybook castle over looking the valley. It was the most beautiful castle I've ever seen and darn if I can't remember the name of it.

Terri

Amy C November 8, 2008 at 5:33 AM  

Terri, I lived in Germany for three years. Unfortunately, I was 12 when we left, so every castle we visited and the ones that were within walking distance, I never fully appreciated them. I would love to go back now and revisit all of them.

Cindy Holby November 8, 2008 at 8:50 AM  

Ohhh, that past life comment made me shiver. I get the same way when I'm deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My great grandmother was pure Cherokee so I wonder if that has anything to do with it.

I would love to go see some castles. England, Scotland, and especially Ireland as thats where the rest of my roots are.

I love the pics. Especially the one that's surrounded by water. It inspires me as Rhys's home in Breath Of Heaven.

Janet November 8, 2008 at 9:20 AM  

Great photos !!!

Would love to go to Scotland. To see the castles in person is one of my goals.

I'm from scottish and native american descent on my father's side, and irish descent on my mother's. Have always had a fascination with all things scottish. And the scottish/irish temper to go with it. :)

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner November 8, 2008 at 2:23 PM  

These are beautiful, Gerri. Thanks for sharing. Like Amy and Terri, I used to live in Germany (southern Germany, near Munich), where ruined (and preserved) castles dot the landscape. I loved seeing castles and keeps when I did something as simple as drive to the grocery store. Touching their stones was like touching the past.

Darlene November 8, 2008 at 3:33 PM  

The pictures are beutiful and I do enjoy stories of castles but will probalby never get the chanse to visit one.

Chez November 8, 2008 at 6:13 PM  

How gorgeous. I remember my trip to Scotland and the austere beauty of the landscape and the lovely castles.

Gerri Russell November 8, 2008 at 8:56 PM  

Ashlyn,

I'm only Scottish through marriage . . . but the past-life thing works for me! Though I fear I was probably a peasant. But a notorious one perhaps?

--Gerri

Gerri Russell November 8, 2008 at 8:58 PM  

Amy,

Scotland was by far the most beautiful country I have ever been to. It's worth a trip.

Thanks so much for picking up a copy of Warrior's Lady! I hope you enjoy it!

--Gerri

ddurance November 11, 2008 at 6:09 AM  

You are not the only one with an obsession with castles. I adore them, despite all the horrors that most of them have seen. I love anything historic and love those coffee-table type books full of pictures. I can just imagine myself as the lady of the castle.

The only place I've been to that has really been full of history is St. Augustine, Florida. My imagination works overtime thinking about what has been seen and done. It's mind-boggling.

Deidre

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