Glamis Castle, Angus, Scotland

This morning, we departed our lodgings near St Andrews, drove across the Tay Bridge to Dundee then to Glamis Castle in the county of Angus. Trip took about 45 mins.

Glamis Castle has been the home of the Earls of Strathmore since 1372. The castle is perhaps best known for its links with the British Royal Family, in particular the late Queen Mother (1900-2002). Additionally, Shakespeare described Macbeth as being Thane of Glamis.

Guests undertook a tour of the castle which lasted about 50 minutes and took the visitors through the Victorian Dining Room, Medieval Crypt, 17th century Drawing Room, Chapel, Billiard Room and the Royal Apartments. Other facilities and attractions at Glamis include:

  • Italian Garden
  • Nature Trail
  • Garden Walks
  • Highland Cattle
  • Exhibitions
  • Shopping
  • Food and Drink

Glamis Castle from Italian Garden.

Next, we drove to nearby Meigle in Perthshire, central Scotland to connect with the Picts who were the indigenous people who occupied Scotland prior to arrival of the Scots.

Pictish carving at Meigle, Scotland

We learn of the Picts from the Romans who called the people Pictii or ‘Painted Men’. Our knowledge base of the Picts is woefully low with much left to speculation. This is because (a) the Picts seem to have left no record of a written language and (b) they were never assimilated within the Roman Empire thus only tid bits of information from Roman sources are available. The Picts were ultimately subsumed, around the 9th century, within a united country of what is now Scotland ruled by the Gaelic speaking Scots.

Pictish carving at Meigle Museum

What is known about the Picts can be summarised as follows:

  • As first settlers they chose the best sites  which were usually south facing.
  • Their place names usually began with Pet or Pit and possibly Pent as well. Thus we can be reasonably sure that places like Pitlochry, Pitagowan, Pitcairn and Pitmeddan were all founded by Pictish people.
  • They were expert stone carvers and have left us with a considerable endowment of elaborate stone carvings found in around 125 sites, mainly in the north and east of Scotland. We do not fully understand the significance of these carvings which feature a combination of abstract shapes, rods, animals and objects representing everyday life. Some of the carvings may represent propaganda and/or convey other type of messages to the illiterate communities of the day.

Pictish Carved Stone at Meigle Museum

Most of the carvings are available to the public for viewing. In the county of Angus there is a Pictish Trail which includes the museum at Meigle which holds over 30 sculptured stones dating from the late 700s to late 900s.

Pictish Carved Stone at Meigle Museum.

To sum up.the Picts continue to prove elusive because of almost complete lack of written records. On the other hand they have left a very tangible record of elaborately carved stones the meanings of which leave much to guess-work and speculation.

After concluding our visit to Meigle we embarked on a three-hour drive north-west to Fort William. In course of this trip we departed the rich, rolling farming landscapes of central Scotland for the Scottish Highlands which at this time of year benefit from a covering of heather in flower. We stopped en-route at a coffee shop called ‘Yummy Things’ in the Strathspey region.

Strathspey landscape.

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