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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Meanwhile...

A nice day out

Well I'm over east again visiting my folks, and my sister and her family are visiting too. So today we went out for a bit of sightseeing. We visited Dunnottar castle, just a couple of miles south of Stonehaven. I last visited this place many years ago as a child, and was pleased finally to get to visit it again because it is a very interesting place with a lot of history behind it.

The first thing that is notable about Dunnottar is its location: perched atop a large rock jutting out into a small bay on the North Sea. It looks a bit like a miniature Fauschlag of Middenheim fame in the WFRP Old World. Here is a picture that my brother-in-law took showing the ruined castle's imposing presence on the coastline.

The location itself positively reeks of history. The rock has been a site of importance since the earliest days of Christian Scotland; there was a Pictish castle here that was captured and destroyed by the Vikings during a 9th century invasion; and an earth an timber fort was built there some 250 years later. The history of the site as we see it today dates to the 14th century. Thereafter, the site played a role in pretty much every major conflict over the next 300 years, from Wallace's wars with the English to Cromwell's revolutionary wars against the royalists.

These ruins are a great place for roleplayers to visit to get an idea of the sort of castle that could be a major strategic location in a region of a campaign setting. Although ruined, enough of the castle's shell remains to give visitors an idea of the scale and the layout of both defences and the amenities of everyday life. The place is full of all sorts of nooks and crannies that are fascinating to wander through. Moreover, the ruins have just been preserved and not turned into some kind of miniature theme park, so that they convey all the better a sense of the bleakness that must surely have characterised life at Dunnottar even at the height of its fortunes.

All in all then a fascinating place to visit. My WFRP players can expect to see Dunnottar standing in for one of the fortresses of the Empire in the Old World one of these days. ;)
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