Scotland’s Buchanan Castle…. Ruins – Oh, If The Walls Could Talk!

It was thirty-four years since I had last been to Scotland with my only son, my first-born.   At that time, we saw the Buchanan Castle – only in the distance across Loch Lomond.  But, this time my grandson, Shaun was with us and we truly wanted to see Buchanan Castle up close and personal.  In a strange way, I was trying to connect the generations of us living with those in the past.

Our wonderful travel guide, Gerry McAllister, Markris Executive Chauffeur Service said “Aye, right, Margaret, ’tis nothing there. ‘Tis nothing but a ruin.”  And so it is…. but beautiful, majestic and one of the best parts of our trip to Scotland in May, 2017.

Fortunately, Gerry knew exactly where to find Buchanan Castle.   No signs or billboards indicated the way, as this particular castle is not a normal tourist stop.  Had we been traveling alone, we may have driven right past it.  We stepped out of Gerry’s Mercedes, just a short trip northwest from Glasgow in Drymen, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

The Castle Was Calling Us!

The boys and I sauntered down an unkept trail seeing faint glimpses of the castle in the distance.

Beautiful Buchanan Castle as we approach on foot

The sun was warm, casting shimmering flashes of light through the overgrown plants.

A beautiful day as we approached the side of Buchanan Castle at the fence line.

Welcoming streaks of sunlight crept through the shadows of the trees.  And, we listened as the birds seemed to call us hither.

In our effort to get closer we encountered a wire fence that circled the outside of the castle. The fence was mangled in spots with a sign, “DANGER, Keep Clear by Order of Montrose Trust.”

Well crap! I didn’t see a sign… did you?  We really wanted to get in!  My son, Patrick and I just looked at each other…thinking.  We had come all this way, three thousand miles across the ocean.  Were we going to let a flimsy wire fence stop us?  But, maybe it was dangerous.

Just then, the head of a young man came popping through the fence.

“There is an easier way in, just down the fence line a bit, he said.  It’s fantastic, but careful where you step.”

And so, trespass we did!

LadyRose walking through an opening in the fence line at Buchanan Castle.

A ruin, and yet a picture postcard wherever we looked.

Buchanan Castle … Talk to Us!

One of the amazing highlights of our trip to Scotland, seeing the ruins of the Buchanan Castle – our heritage!

As my maiden name is Buchanan, all three of us explored the castle as if it belonged to us. At the same time, it felt as if we were treading on sacred ground.  I imagined what it might be like to have my father or an old ancestor alongside us, whispering tales of their life and time. We were here NOW, and maybe never have this opportunity again.

We stepped over and around fallen logs, and missing steps.  But the castle walls seem to be full height and part of a turret still had its shape.

We ventured up spiral stair cases almost buried in muddy earth and found something fascinating wherever we looked.  It was hard to take it all in.  What might be right here in front of us that we were missing?

There was no roof  and the wooden insulation has been left exposed and rotting, vines taking root on them. My son, Patrick inspects something on the wall.

“Wow! Come look at this!” Patrick called.  We tried to make out what it said.  I wondered when and how it came to be on the inside wall of the castle.

Writing on the wall inside Buchanan Castle
Closer photo of writing in Buchanan Castle.

We found the writing is English but unintelligible! And probably not nearly as old as the wall.  Still, our imaginations ran wild as we took in the smell of earthy moss and envisioned what it was like to live here so many years ago.  Perhaps, the highland fling had been danced to bagpipes in the very spot where we were now standing.

Eventually, we found our way out of the fence and to the car.   “Well I was ready to call the Bobby, thought you Keelies fell in.” said Gerry.

Fortunately Shaun captured a short video as he explored this great gem of history – a ruin, yet still alive for the adventurous to check out for themselves.  Play the short  clip below for a glimpse of the castle for yourself.

More of Buchanan Castle

  • See some truly excellent professional photos of Buchanan Castle in an article on The Forgotten Scotland in the Daily Mail.
  • For more video, you should really click here for a different glimpse into the haunting and mysterious past within the castle walls.
  • For more history, check out the article in AtlasObscura.  Interestingly, Buchanan Castle was turned into a hospital during World War II and Rudolph Hess, Hitler’s right had man was treated for his wounds there after his airplane was shot down.
    “Lang may your lum reek, we other folks coal.”

    Until next time …. please, comment below.

The Interview: How I Launched My Career in the Wonderful World of Advertising!

At age twenty-six, it was high time I made some decisions.  Could I interview and land an interesting job that had growth potential?   Or should I figure out a way to support myself and go back to college? Did I even know what degree I wanted? Maybe something in law or journalism?

Continue reading “The Interview: How I Launched My Career in the Wonderful World of Advertising!”

Buffalo Nickels & Memories of Yesteryear

Packing for a flight to Philadelphia to visit family and celebrate my granddaughter’s birthday, I ran across a small bag of Buffalo/Indian head nickels in the dresser.  Buffalo Nickels have always had a special place in my heart.  They brings back fond memories of the 1950s.    I recall sorting through the coins collected with my brother when I had the privilege to join him on his paper route. Continue reading “Buffalo Nickels & Memories of Yesteryear”

I Forget! It’s Wonderful Sometimes!

So, how can forgetting ever be wonderful?  It is a matter of being selective.  I forget things, like what I’m looking for when I cross the threshold of a room.  I have to think twice and hope a delayed reaction will turn on the light bulb of remembrance.  My mother used to say, “Tie a string around your finger so you won’t forget next time!”  It always seemed like a dumb idea to me.  When Mom was out of sorts, her Scottish  brogue would kick in, saying: “Wean, ye would forget yer head if it wisnae attached on!” Continue reading “I Forget! It’s Wonderful Sometimes!”

Dancing, Dreaming and Shooting for the Stars!

It was “bloody two o’clock in the morning!” when Mom’s shouting alerted me from my reverie.  I was dancing the night away with Fred Astaire in our overgrown closet of a living room in the old duplex on Franklin Street – at least I was in my mind.  My imagination carried me away as I watched the great dance star on the old black and white movie on TV.

Continue reading “Dancing, Dreaming and Shooting for the Stars!”

Wrecking Havoc With The Magic of Christmas

There are a line of employees waiting to get into my Wilmington, DE publishing office with the latest problems, questions, or suggestions just before Christmas.  Jeff, a recent hire fresh out of Temple University is bursting with something to say.  “Hold that thought” I say, as I pick up the phone ringing by my desk.

It is the Director of KinderCare on the phone – “You have to do something, Margaret! Your son is telling all the children that Santa Claus is a fake!  He is claiming there is a different Santa at the Mall from the one on Main Street.” Continue reading “Wrecking Havoc With The Magic of Christmas”

A Scottish Festive Holiday Grace

My Scottish parents taught us to lift our glasses as grace was recited at any important family gathering.  Be it a holiday or a family gathering, everyone joined together at the supper table ready to eat.  The Scottish prayer was recited by my Dad in a manner that was more of a toast than a standard blessing on a meal. He commanded everyone’s attention, waited for silence, then raised his glass and reverently spoke in his thick Glaswegian brogue:

“Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thanket.”

Growing up in Pennsylvania, we recited this Scottish grace year after year, chiming in as we learned the words.  It was my understanding that the Continue reading “A Scottish Festive Holiday Grace”