Study Abroad

Day 8: Glamis Castle & Arbroath Abbey

Tuesday June 12, 2018

Let me say this first: Dundee is a mundane place. Yes, the buildings everywhere in Scotland are beautiful and old, but our time in Dundee was filled with heavy fog and mist and rain. The city was a polar opposite of Edinburgh and, honestly, it took some getting used to, at least personally. There was not a plethora of restaurants or night life, so we stayed in every night after dinner, catching up on our Lightroom editing and sleep.

On Tuesday, I went down to breakfast before our early departure to Glamis Castle, about 45 minutes outside the city. Luckily, we had some good weather as we were given a tour of the brilliant castle and explored the grounds. Inside the castle, we learned that (idk what number) an Earl owned the castle and lived in the apartments just outside the main castle. Surprising to me, it was where The Queen Mother herself had grown up, which surprised me because we were in Scotland. Her mother had lived there too and she is one of many siblings, as I had learned.

The rooms were full of detail and beautiful china as well as polished silver and deep wood carved tables and chairs. The fireplaces were almost as tall as I was, and there were artifacts in there that dated back hundreds of years. We started in the sitting room, which was still used today, and then moved into the crypt. This was interesting to me because, not only were there deer heads (and one elephant head) that covered the walls, but our lovely tour guide informed us that there was once a room in there, but was sealed up at one point. No ne knew why it had been sealed, but it was evident on the stone that there was newer plaster on it than the other parts of the stone. Outside we could even see the mysterious, barred window that belonged to this room, but there was no longer an entry to it.

After the crypt, we ventured into another sitting room and a few bedrooms. This is all jumbled in my memory now, but I did get to see The Queen Mother’s crib and old bedroom. It was crazy to me how many rooms they had for socializing back then, but then I remembered that things are drastically different now than they were back then. People sought each other for entertainment rather than in phones or movies or anything else for that matter. They sought stories, memories and witty conversation. A small part of me yearned to experience a time like that, with minimal distractions and daily embroidered dresses. The castle was dressed in the finest cloths and embroideries and it was really cool getting to know about the history of the grounds.

After the tour, we all split up and began shooting. We hadn’t been shooting in the castle because it was not allowed, which as I have learned, is the case for many historic places like palaces and churches and castles. I ventured to the gardens, which were spectacularly colorful and filled with rich greenery and trees that yearned to touch the sky. Birds chirped happily and nature’s sounds filled my ears and I was feeling extremely blessed and peaceful to be walking in such an old and beautiful area. We ventured into a more structured garden where more of my fellow classmates were shooting. My photography professor, Dr. Foster, says that so many people shoot the same scene over and over again that it is almost impossible to enhance it or capture a new moment. He says that to do this, you need a human element, to see the scene in a different way. We saw this when an elderly woman rounded the corner of the structured garden, moving slowly with her can towards where we were. All of us started shooting because it was just such a great photo opportunity, especially after what Dr. Foster had just said. I asked “what we say if she asks us why we are taking photos of her” and my professor replied “because she is beautiful”. And he was right, she was, especially walking in such a beautifully landscaped garden.

After Glamis Castle, we ate questionable steak pies in a small city called Forfar, just outside of Glamis. After, we ventured to Arbroath to visit Arbroath Abbey and its ruins. From what I recall, it looked a lot like the St. Andrews cathedral ruins, but in more of a deep red color instead of the gray, white stone we had seen before. We learned that it used to be run by monks, and there were several weather events and fires that burnt down the Abbey. In the drawn pictures, the monks looked like they had shaved their head, but left a line of hair going around the circumference of their head. This was very strange to me. They wore grey cloaks and worked the entirety of the day while living at the Abbey. This place, too had many tombstones that had grown darker with age, and pillars that once stretched to the ceilings.

After the Abbey, we explored the length of the small fishing city to the coast, where the dark waves splashed against the stone wall, creating a sea spray over my friends and I as we walked by. We shot some of the crab cages and lone boats that floated back and forth in the marina. We walked to the coast, which was mainly made up of rocks and no sand, to our disappointment. We walked back to the bus and then rode back to our temporary home at the Holiday Inn Express in Dundee.



Sunset chasing, travel dreaming, coffee sipping, moment seeker, literature lover & wanderlust enthusiast.

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