My History Blog, Focussing mostly on Roman and Mediaeval Times


25/10/2009
  Doune Castle - A Virtual Tour

This post is not only aimed at my regular readers, but also at the fans of George RR Martins' epic Fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire on the Westeros forums. The books may be turned into a TV series by HBO, and filming of the pilot has started this weekend. Besides shootings in Belfast and Morocco, Doune Castle will be used for some settings, most probably Winterfell, the seat of Lord Eddard Stark.

If you are interested, please, follow me on a virtual tour of the castle:

Doune Castle, north front

Contrary to most castles in Scotland that have been altered over the times, Doune is the product of a single building period and has survived relatively unchanged - albeit somewhat renovated - until today. It was built by Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany (1340-1420, duke since 1398), son of King Robert II of Scotland and Regent of Scotland since 1388, ruling first for a weak father and then for his nephew, James I, who was a prisoner of the English. He may also have had a hand in the untimely demise of another nephew, David Duke of Rothesay, but that could never be proven.

Robert Stewart became Earl of Menteith by marriage to the heiress Margaret Graham, and was granted the lands on which Castle Doune stands in 1361. It's the earliest date construction may have started. The castle was at least partially complete in 1381 when a charter was signed there.

Courtyard seen from the Lord's Hall
(The windows are glazed today, thus I could not avoid some reflections)

Doune was obviously planned as courtyard with buildings on all sides (there are windows in the southern curtain wall, fe.), but the only buildings that were completed are the gatehouse tower with the rooms of the lord and his family, the great hall, and the kitchen tower with kitchen and guest rooms. Those buildings range along the north and part of the west side. Doune can be seen as development towards the palaces arranged around a courtyard like Linlithgow, built in the 15th and 16th century. Though the curtain walls of Doune were much stronger than the defenses, if you can call them that, of Linlithgow Palace. The remaining stonework is still mostly from the later 14th century.

The castle displays the wealth and status of its owner, who was called the 'Big Spender' - though Doune was not the only castle he spent big on, albeit it became his favourite residence.

Doune Castle, Gatehouse Tower

The rectangular gatehouse tower has a size of 18 x 13 metres (59x43 ft) and rises to 29 metres (95 ft), according to Wikipedia. The Historic Scotland guidebook gives no measurements. There is a projecting round tower on the north-east corner; I guess one possible function could have been to shoot missiles at attackers of the gate. The somewhat older Dunstaffnage Castle once had a corner tower serving that purpose.

The gatehouse tower held the lord's hall and three storeys of chambers. The function of most of those can only be guessed at since comparable architectural features have not been found in other castles

Entrance archway

The 14 metres long vaulted passage was once secured by timber doors and iron grilles, so called yetts, on both ends. The outer one can still be seen. On both sides are guardrooms; one serves as castle shop today. The entire entrance was separated from the rest of the castle, and the thick stone vault protected the tower from fire.

It could be used to film Lord Stark of Winterfell or even King Robert riding through. *grin*

Kitchen Tower, seen from the courtyard

The kitchen tower can be considered as second tower house, measung 17 x 8 metres (56x26 ft). The kitchen is on hall level, beneath are storage cellars. The kitchen had an oven for baking bread, and an 18 ft wide fireplace, large enough to roast entire animals on a spit. The vaulted ceiling has smoke holes above the windows, and there are slop-drains on one side.

A staircase leads to the so-called Royal Appertments on the upper floor. They are also known as Queen Mary's Chamber, though we can't be sure she ever visited Doune Castle. The chamber plus adjacent sleeping closet and latrine were fit to host guests of high rank. The location over the kitchen made the rooms some of the warmest in the castle.

Servery, seen from the entrance to the Great Hall

The righthand staircase on the photo of the kitchen tower leads into a triangular lobby, the servery, which links kitchen and hall. You can see two arched serving hatches on the left, big enough to pass a roast hog through; a feature unusual for the period. There's a nice drawing in the guidebook of servants retrieving platters from the hatches and carrying them into the hall, where the guests are seated. I bet GRR Martin would approve of a feature like that - after all, King Robert will want his meat hot and juicy. In other castles like Caernarfon, the way between kitchen and hall was much longer.

The Great Hall

The great hall is an impressive room of 20 x 8 metres (66x28 ft) and 12 metres (39 ft) high, with a timber roof (reconstructed in the 19th century) spouting a smolke hole in the middle. The hall has no fireplace and was probably heated by a central fire in a the fire basket like the one you can see today, though I wonder how much use that would be in a room of such dimensions. A roaring fireplace or two should have worked better.

The entrance is on the opposite side of the photo, with a wooden minstrel's gallery (also reconstructed) above, and a staircase leading down to the buttery where the wine and beer were kept. The walkways on the battlements could also be reached from the gallery.

Five windows of different shapes lit the hall. One large dais window hides a little side door to a latrine.

The Lord's Hall
(The mason must have been a bit drunk, compare the lines of the fireplace to the candelabrum.)

This large room above the entrance in the gatehouse tower and adjacent to the great hall is also called the Duke's Hall. It would have been used for smaller parties and audiences. The room has an unusual double fireplace which is original, but the furniture dates to the renovation of 1883. A staircase on the north side (not seen in the photo) gives access to the minstrel's gallery and the battlements. The staircase on the pic leads to a chamber above.

Said chamber has a fireplace and a latrine closet. It is assumed that it was the duke's bedchamber. As I said above, the function of some other rooms in the gatehouse tower and the annexed round tower are not easily to determined, but a similar chamber above the duke's could have been the duchess' bedchamber.

The Duchess' Hall

The second hall above the Lord's Hall that is supposed to have been the duchess' hall. Midway along the courtyard side is some sort of alcove that may have been screened from the rest of the room and served as oratory or private chapel (on the right side of the photo). On the wall is a so-called credence which held the consectated vessels and a basin to wash them. There would have been a small altar as well.

The ceiling of this room is missing today (you can see a glimpse of an upper floor window on the right). Originally, the topmost floor might have been divided into smaller chambers for the duke's family and higher ranking members of the staff and the duchess' ladies-in-waiting. A man of the social status of the Duke of Albany would have had a permanent staff of some 50 people - most of those had to bed down in the great hall and kitchen. Though the latter was probably not the worst place because it was warm. :)

Cellars in the Kitchen Tower

The crypts of Winterfell. Well, not really, those were storage cellars in the kitchen tower.

The Duke of Albany died in 1420, and both dukedom and Regency passed to his son Murdoch (born 1362). When King James I finally returned to Scotland after his ransom had been paid in 1424, he was not happy about the way some nobles had taken up control of the kingdom. He had Duke Murdoch of Albany and his sons arrested for treason and executed in 1425. Doune Castle fell to the Crown and served as hunting lodge for the Scottish monarchs during the next decades. In the end, the Stewards of Albany lost the Game of Thrones.

Some more pics are here.
 
Comments:
Great pictures as always!
 
Lovely stuff!
Regards, Le Loup.
 
Nice to see "proper" fire places...that is, fire places that are higher than they are wide. Low squat fireplaces like they build here in North America let smoke out into the room.
I like that they built two fireplaces side by side rather than try to get a big draughty one to work.
Very cozy indeed.
 
Impressive castle, and impressive photos to go with it! It looks a grand place for a location shoot.

Wonder how long the series will be? If they're going to do all the books, it will run and run :-)
 
Thank you, Daphne and Loup.

Stag, that's interesting to know. Fireplaces aren't so common here, so I would not know which ones smoke.

Carla, a season per book for the first two, maybe two seasons for the third - I don't think they planned too far aheard. What the do right now is the pilot with a hope to get the first season greenlighted at least.

But if it comes to the big thing, Martin will have to finish the series some day. ;)
 
Thanks for posting these great pics and fascinating history, Gabriele. I learned a lot.
 
Thank you, Alianore. You're welcome.
 
Oooh, I love virtual tours! What a great place!

But Gabriele, I'm rather disappointed at no gratuitous pic of Sean Bean lol!
 
Lol, Lady D, fangirl much? Not that I can blame you. ;)
 
Very beautiful blog, informative info, Many thanks for your efforts. I hope my blog http://crusades-medieval.blogspot.com to be like yours.
 
Hi secblog, thanks for coming over. Your blog looks very interesting indeed.
 
Will be visiting Doune in October, this has whetted my appetite
 
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The Lost Fort is a history blog based on my journeys in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and other places. It includes essays on Roman and Mediaeval history and architecture, as well as some geology, illustrated with my own photos of old castles and churches, Roman remains, pretty towns and beautiful landscapes.

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I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who still hasn't got an Instagram account.
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The Counts of Winzenburg

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The Lüneburg Succession War
The Thuringian Succession War - Introduction
The Star Wars

Royal Troubles
Otto IV and Bishop Adalbert II of Magdeburg


England and Normandy

From the Conquest to King John

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From Henry III to the War of the Roses

Great Fiefs
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Kings of Scots

House Dunkeld
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King David and the Civil War (1)
King David and the Civil War (2)

Houses Bruce and Stewart
Robert the Bruce and Stirling Castle
The Early Stewart Kings

Scottish Nobles and their Quarrels

Clan Feuds
MacLeans and MacDonalds
A Scottish Wedding


Wales

Princes and Rebels

The Princes of Gwynedd
The Rise of House Aberffraw

The Rebellions
From Llywellyn ap Gruffudd to Owain Glyn Dŵr


Scandinavia

Kings and Vikings

Kings of Norway
King Eirik's Scottish Marriages

Famous Nobles and their Feuds
Alv Erlingsson of Tønsberg


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Post-Mediaeval History

Discoveries
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Raising a Wreck, Now and Then (Vasa Museum in Stockholm)

Explorers
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Fram Expedition to the South Pole

History in Opera and Literature

Opera

Belcanto and Historicism
Maria Padilla - Mistress Royal
The Siege of Calais in Donizetti's Opera

Historical Ballads

Ballads by Th. Fontane, translated by me
About Theodor Fontane
Archibald Douglas
Gorm Grymme
Sir Walter Scott in Abbotsford
The Tragedy of Afghanistan


Geological Landscapes

The Baltic Sea
Geology of the Curonian Spit

The Harz
Karst Landscape
Karst - Lonau Falls
Karst - Rhume Springs

Meissner / Kaufunger Wald
Blue Dome near Eschwege
Diabase and Basalt Formations
Karst Formations

Solling-Vogler
Raised Bogs
The Hannover Cliffs

The Shores of Scotland
Staffa

Paleontology

Fossils
Ammonites


Fun Stuff

Not So Serious Romans
Aelius Rufus Visits the Future Series
Building Hadrian's Wall
Playmobil Romans

Royal (Hi)Stories
Kings Having a Bad Hair Day
The Case of the Vanished Wine Cask

Historical Memes
Charlemagne meme
Historical Christmas Wishes
New Year Resolutions
Aelius Rufus does a Meme
Rules for Writing Scottish Romances

Funny Sights
Tourist Kitsch in St.Petersburg

My Novels in Progress / Planning

I'm a bit of a writer, too; here are the novel projects on which I'm currently working

Roman Novels (Historical Fiction)
The Saga of House Sichelstein (Historical Fiction)
Kings and Rebels (Fantasy)


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Ancient Times (Mary Harrsch)
Bread and Circuses (Adrian Murdoch)
Following Hadrian (Carole Raddato)
Mike Anderson's Ancient History Blog
Mos Maiorum - Der römische Weg
Per Lineam Valli (M.C. Bishop)
Zenobia (Judith Weingarten)

Digging Up Fun Stuff
The Anglo-Saxon Archaeology Blog
Arkeologi i Nord
The Journal of Antiquities (Britain)
The Northern Antiquarian
The Roman Archaeology Blog

History Blogs - Mediaeval

Þaér wæs Hearpan Swég
Anglo Saxon, Norse & Celtic Blog
Casting Light upon the Shadow (A. Whitehead)
Norse and Viking Ramblings
Outtakes of a Historical Novelist (Kim Rendfeld)

Beholden Ye Aulde Blogges
A Clerk of Oxford
Daily Medieval
Historical Britain Blog (Mercedes Rochelle)
Magistra et Mater (Rachel Stone)
Michelle of Heavenfield (Michelle Ziegler)
Senchus (Tim Clarkson)
Viking Strathclyde (Tim Clarkson)

Royal and Other Troubles
Edward II (Kathryn Warner)
Henry the Young King (Kasia Ogrodnik)
Piers Gaveston (Anerje)
Lady Despenser's Scribery
Simon de Montfort (Darren Baker)
Weaving the Tapestry (Scottish Houses Dunkeld and Stewart)

A Mixed Bag of History
English Historical Fiction Authors
The Freelance History Writer (Susan Abernethy)
The History Blog
History, the Interesting Bits (S.B. Connolly)
Mediaeval Manuscripts Blog
Mediaeval News (Niall O'Brian)
Time Present and Time Past (Mark Patton)

Thoughts and Images

Reading and Reviews
Black Gate Blog
The Blog That Time Forgot (Al Harron)
Parmenion Books
Reading the Past
The Wertzone

Imaginations
David Blixt
Ex Urbe (Ada Palmer)
Constance A. Brewer
Jenny Dolfen Illustrations
Wild and Wonderful (Caroline Gill)

German Travel Blogs
Alte Steine
Blickgewinkelt
Meerblog
Reiseaufnahmen
Sonne und Wolken
Teilzeitreisender
Travelita
Unterwegs und Daheim

Highland Mountains
The Hazel Tree (Jo Woolf)
Helen in Wales
Mountains and Sea Scotland

The Colours of the World
Shutterbugs


Research

Archaeology
Past Horizons
Archaeology in Europe
Orkneyar

Roman History
Deutsche Limeskommission
Internet Ancient Sourcebook
Livius.org
Roman Army
Roman Britain
The Romans in Britain
Vindolanda Tablets

Not so Dark Ages
Burgundians in the Mist
Viking Society for Northern Research

Mediaeval History
De Re Militari
Internet Mediaeval Sourcebook
Kulturzeit
The Labyrinth
Mediaeval Crusades
Medievalists.Net

Castles
Burgenarchiv
Burgerbe
Burgenwelt
Exploring Castles
The World of Castles

Miscellaneous History
Heritage Daily
The History Files

Mythology
Ancient History
Encyclopedia Mythica

Online Journals
Ancient Warfare
The Heroic Age
The History Files

Travel and Guide Sites

Germany - History
Antike Stätten in Deutschland
Burgenarchiv
Strasse der Romanik

Germany - Nature
HarzLife
Naturpark Meissner
Naturpark Solling-Vogler

England
English Heritage
Visit Northumberland

Scotland
The Chain Mail (Scottish History)
Historic Scotland
National Trust Scotland

Books and Writing

Interesting Author Websites
Bernard Cornwell
Dorothy Dunnett
Steven Erikson
Diana Gabaldon
Guy Gavriel Kay
George R.R. Martin
Sharon Kay Penman
Brandon Sanderson
J.R.R. Tolkien
Tad Williams

Historical Fiction
Historical Novel Society
Historia Magazine

Writing Sites
Absolute Write
TheLitForum.com
National Novel Writing Month


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