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8-08-2015, 16:24

Scottish Tower Houses

The turrets and battlements of a French chateau also seem to sprout from the tops of Scottish tower houses, recalling the old alliance between Scotland and France. Like the Norman towers, these tower houses had their principal rooms and entrance on the second or even third floor. One or two projecting wings might be built to add additional spaces giving the plan a distinctive Z shape. A low wall enclosed a courtyard, called a barmkyn, with ranges of lodgings for retainers. The owner lived in the tower, not just as a matter of prestige but also for safety. The top of the building could be quite elaborate with a large hall surrounded on the exterior with two levels of battlements, whose machicolations and turrets were corbelled out over the walls. So popular were tower houses in Scotland that they continued to be built into the seventeenth century, with splendid examples like Craigevar and Crathes. In the far north not far from Aberdeen in Scotland, the merchant William Forbes built his tower house at Craigevar, finishing it in 1626 (Figure 30). The Scottish “lairds” (landholders, not necessarily noble “lords”) topped their towers with turrets, gables, and miniature battlements inspired by their French allies. Not only did they pierce the tower walls with little round holes, just the right size for a gun barrel, they also carved their water spouts in the shape of tiny stone cannons. These Scottish tower houses inspired the “Scottish Baronial” style of the nineteenth century, epitomized by the royal holiday residence, Balmoral Castle. Sir Walter Scott in Scotland, Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Angustus Pugin in England, and Viollet-le-Duc and Victor Hugo in France, not only re-created medieval architecture, they also inspired generations with their novels, poetry, and scholarly writing. They helped to save the castles and monasteries as evidence and reminders of their countries’ past.