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Of Castles and Bridges

The islands of Great Britain and Ireland are crammed with historic monuments from different time periods, reaching from pre-antiquity (Stonehenge) to the modern era (Shard in London). Many interesting sights though were built in medieval and early modern times (St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland, picture 1 and Culzean Castle, Scotland, pictures 3, 5 and 7) or in the time of industrialisation (Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, England, picture 2, Menai Bridge, Wales, picture 4 and Britannia Bridge, Wales, picture 6). Some impressions.

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Garden of Arundel

England is famous for it’s garden culture. The English garden was created in the 18th century in contrast to the French garden, which is very structured with symmetrical ways and central points. Hence it is a metaphor for the French absolutism of it’s time with the Sun king being in the center of power, all possible ways departing from him. The English system was more nuanced and unclear, hence there are more secret passage ways in the Gardens, an aura of mystery and uncertainty sometimes, the structures being not so clear and open to exploration. But of course the English garden like it’s French cousin is everything but natural, it is thoroughly human-made. One example being the Garden of Arundel at the grounds of the castle with the same name in Southern England. The temperated weather in this part of the UK allows for beautiful gardens with surprising diversity, consisting of local flowers but also more exotic ones.

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Land of the Clansmen

For centuries Scotland used to be the land of the Clansmen. The country was divided and governed by families like the MacDonalds, Camerons or MacKenzies. All of which had their own tartans, traditions and allegiances and were interlocked in a fight for influence and wealth. What they had in common was a deep connection and history with the land they occupied and an immense pride to be fierce fighters and survivors of the north. It was seldom though that they agreed on anything politically, it needed an outside force – a common enemy – to gather the concurring clans like in the wars led by national heroes like William Wallace (his monument is seen in the last picture), Robert the Bruce or lastly Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 18th century. That enemy of course was England. After the shattering battle of Culloden in which the Scottish forces lost against the English king the history of the clan-ships ended. Though their traditions and history can be seen all over the country – the spirit of fierce warriors and the deep connection to their native land can be felt and is still there.

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Wilds of Scotland

Scotland is a country of immense natural beauty. When speaking about the wilds of Scotland though it is important to notice, that the human influence on the nature over the last centuries up until today was huge. Before the arrival of humans and the dawn of agriculture Scotland as most of the island of Great Britain used to be covered by dense forests. The need to create new grazing areas for cattle and farming land lead to the burning and clearing of woodland. Additionally wood became an important material for construction, especially from the 17th century onwards with the growing importance for shipbuilding as the island became a major colonial power and ships were needed for trade and war. Though a lot changed and the natural world of Scotland was not left untouched by human hands, especially the north of the country far away from Edinburgh and Glasgow is still very raw and wild. Some impressions.

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Discovering Caledonia

The Romans used to call the country which we know today as Scotland Caledonia. It was a strange and foreign land with dangerous and wild inhabitants at the Northern end of the Roman world. Two immense walls were built by the Roman emperors Hadrian and Antonius to secure Britain from the blue painted warriors – or “Picts” – living in the northern lands. Also behind these barriers was a country of immense beauty and raw vastness.

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