Scotland Day 3

Day Three is in the books! 

This morning we got up early and enjoyed breakfast together before saying goodbye to Newcastle and eventually Northumbria. Our first stop this morning was at Warkworth Castle. A beautiful ruin that was originally a motte and bailey castle harking back to the twelfth century. Over the course of the castles’ life though, this border estate saw plenty of action between the thirteenth and fourteenth century feuds between the English and Scots amongst others. Today though, this castle featured plenty of space for all of us to run about and imagine what life was like for the ultra wealthy in the early modern period. It featured a private bathroom, two wine cellars, separate beer cellar, and its own cross shaped church that sat only feet away from the nearby keep.

The ruined nature of the walls was probably due to either Oliver Cromwell storming through and taking a cannonade to the castle defenses, or perhaps more surprisingly that the Lord of Warkworth Castle may have given permission to have pieces taking away from the castle’s fortifications. It is document that his original tower near the church was destroyed and the stone was redistributed to nearby villages. After a few months though, the lord missed the tower, and decided to have a new one erected! 

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We stopped for a group photo, gathered some water, and then took a delightful stroll down a nearby river to visit the Percy families’ private hermitage. After a discussion with a nearby docent- we learned that the “Hermitage” was a privately funded (and beautifully constructed) chapel created for a private priest whose sole purpose was to pray for the lord who was living at Warkworth Castle. We climbed into a small boat, and found the chapel carved into the rock face for the hermit’s home. The hermit’s front door was flanked by two giant yew trees that almost seemed to crawl towards the river when we approached! The interior even had a miraculously preserved sculpture of Joseph looking down on Mary, and on a baby Jesus in one of the window sills.

After leaving Warkworth, Ms. South and I decided that the students should eat and have time to grab a book or two at a great used bookstore named Barter Books. We sat down to enjoy some avocado toast, cheese toasties, as well as a variety of fudge and cookies. Ms. South lets us know that this was one of her favorite places to visit, and that the bookstore had become world famous after re-discovering the “Keep Calm, and Carry On” label from a World War II poster. After the discovery, they began plastering that message on an assortment of items for sale. I’m sure many of you either own, or have seen signs speaking to this same quote. Secondly, the store itself is in a beautiful nineteenth century train station- lending a particularly powerful ambience to an extensive supply of both common and exoctic first edition books. We were sad to leave after a quick bite and browse, but were happy to be on our way to Holy Island (or Lindisfarne).

We arrived at Lindisfarne after negotiating the tides to ensure that we would not be swept away nor would we get lost as the tide was out. We were all excited to see that our students were putting many of our previous connections together. For those who did light painting, Ian had discussed how syncretic practices brought both Celtic and Roman Christian beliefs together by using intricate patterns on newly erected crosses. We saw an abundance of these items in the nearby museum dedicated to the priory, before setting out to see the abbey itself. Lindisfarne was the original home to St. Cuthbert (the saint who we saw buried in Durham Cathedral). We saw his first burial spot, (Zoe immediately ran over to stand where Cuthbert had rested) and spent a bit over an hour walking around and seeing what life was like for these early Benedictine monks. We explored what life would have been like for these martyrs after realizing that Lindisfarne is precariously close to the sea. That proximity brought Vikings, and other problems to those living peacefully at the priory. 

After leaving Lindisfarne, we had one final leg of the trip as we headed back towards Edinburgh along the beautiful A1. This car ride gave Alex the chance to find a great “Mashed Taters” joint that offered both haggis, boar sausage, as well as more traditional cuisine. It was a great restaurant, and afterwards, Ms. South and I decided to have a game night in celebration of having such a great group of kids! I picked up the cookies, and we met the students down in the hotel lobby to play “Guillotine,” “E.R.S.,” and my absolute favorite “Timeline.” While it was a close match, Miranda and Zoe were victorious and even managed to know some pretty obscure history tidbits to take home the victory.

Tomorrow. We will break our fast at 8:00 a.m. and enjoy the amazing castle sitting on the extinct volcano across the street. Sleep well everyone, Edinburgh is coming at you bright and early!

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