Scottish Tour Guide's Blog

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Lancaster Castle, England

This afternoon I visited Lancaster Castle in Northern England. This was much different from the usual medieval ruins of British castles. Although parts of this substantial building date from the Norman period of the 11th century, there were further additions up to the 15th century. However, there were further expansions in the 18th and 19th centuries to accommodate the needs of a combined County Court and prison. In fact the Castle ceased to have a custodial function as recently as 2011. The courtrooms for civil cases ( very elaborate) and criminal cases are still in use and were included in our tour as was a section of the former prison cells. In one of the exhibition rooms there was even a Roman altar, which was found locally and confirms the long history of settlement in Lancaster. We learned about the gruesome punishments handed out in the 18th and 19th centuries when capital punishments, deportations and quasi torture were commonplace. The tour lasted about 95 minutes and was very informative. Opportunities for photographs were limited because of legal restrictions applying to the interior courts section.

Historic still at Bushmills Distillery, Ireland

This evening, I am focusing on Northern Ireland’s only whiskey distiller, Bushmills.

Key facts and information concerning Bushmills:

  • Located close to the town of Bushmills and near to the Giant’s Causeway and other popular visitor sites.
  • Enjoys a long pedigree. A licence to distil in the area was first granted in 1608 but the distillery as exists today was first registered in 1784.
  • Now part of the Diageo, international drinks group which includes about one-third of the Scotch whisky industry.
  • Production is about 4.5 million litres p.a. ( A medium size distillery by Scottish standards.)
  • In common with other Irish distillers, Bushmills triple distills the spirit using ten stills.
  • The distillery produces a range of single malts and blends, viz:
    • 10, 12. 16 and 21 years old single malts.
    • Bushmills and Black Bushmills blends.
    • Irish Honey, which is technically not whiskey because alcohol content is less tha 40 pct.
  • A bottling plant is incorporated in the distillery.
  • Distillery tours are provided but photography is not permitted, hence limited range of images in this post.


Bushmills 12 year old Irish Whiskey, Northern Ireland



Antique bottle of Old Bushmills Irish Whiskey, Ireland





Old Maltings at Bushmills Distillery, Northern Ireland



Warehouse at Bushmills Distillery, Northern Ireland



Bushmills Distillery, Northern Ireland


This evening, I am posting information on Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland which is located on the North Antrim Coast a few miles west of the Giant’s Causeway.

As a power base the site is relatively young by British standards. The earliest standing remains date from around 1500 but the castle reached its zenith in the early 17th century under Randal MacDonnell and his son, also Randal MacDonnell both whom achieved status of Earls of Antrim under King James I.

The MacDonnells brought to Ireland large numbers of Scots to act as a counterweight to Irish Catholics and suppress revolts from that quarter. The MacDonnells were initially very successful and gained large estates and wealth. However, Randal fell foul of the British when he was arrested in 1642. Whilst Randal regained his estates in 1665 the family chose other sites as residence and Dunluce progressively fell into ruin.

Today, the remains include:

  • A Brew House.
  • Stables.
  • lodgings.
  • Bridge.
  • Gatehouse.
  • Curtain Wall
  • Loggia ( covered walkway).
  • S.E. Tower.
  • Manor House ( Jacobian Mansion)
  • N.E. Tower.
  • Souterrian ( probably dating from the first millennium AD)
  • Kitchen
  • Buttery
  • Inner Ward.

Close to the castle archaeologists have found the remains of Dunluce Town which was abandoned around 1680.

The promontory location offers superb views of the the local coastline.

Coast view from Dunluce Castle