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Scotland and Northumbria

Since first discovering Scotland, when I was sent there during my adolescence to learn English, I have felt attached to the country. Scotland has everything I love: romantic monuments, ghosts by the dozen, charming cities, and a countryside amongst the most beautiful in Europe. Scotland reminds me of Greece, but with different colors. Greece is blue and white, whereas Scotland is full of browns, greens, and grays. A few years ago, I revisited Scotland with my grandson Tigran.  We traveled throughout southern Scotland and the northern part of England, in the region of Northumbria, finding new treasures with every step.

 

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In the locality of Closbourn, the castle visible through the trees belongs to the maternal family of Empress Eugenie, the Kirkpatrick clan. A curse upon the family foretold that the eldest son would die tragically in the prime of his life, which is exactly what happened to the Imperial Prince, the only child of Empress Eugenie.

 

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The splendid Drumlanrig Castle belongs to the grandest lord of Scotland, the Duke of Buccleuch, who is also the largest landowner in Europe. Once, during my adolescence, I had the pleasure of staying there.

 

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The ruins of the Bladnoch Castle, the site of the unfortunate tragedy that inspired Donizetti’s opera “Lucia di Lammermoor.” The heroine was in love with a poor neighbor, yet was forced to marry her rich neighbor. On her wedding night, she stabbed her husband and became mad. In the opera, the husband died of his wounds when in reality he lived to be 90.

 

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Cows mingle cleverly with the fabulous past of Bladnoch Castle.

 

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Scotland is dotted with ruins in the most unexpected places, sometimes right in the middle of a farm.

 

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A lighthouse stands watch over England on the Solway Coast in southern Scotland

 

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The romantic ruins of Sweetheart Abbey, a most inspiring name.

 

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The Caerlaverock Castle, surrounded by a moat and a magnificent park, is the only European castle built in the shape of a triangle.

 

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My grandson Tigran looks out through a window of the Caerlaverock Castle. The splendid Renaissance decoration is still visible.

 

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The Featherstone Castle is famous for its ghostly history and the funeral cortege that brought back the body of a young groom who died tragically while hunting. The spectral cortege has reappeared many times through the centuries.

 

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The Durham Cathedral is one of the most beautiful in the United Kingdom.

 

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Seaton Delaval Hall is truly one England’s baroque marvels. A fire destroyed most of the interior, leaving the immense structure completely empty.

 

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Just off the North Umbrian coast rises Holy Island, full of ghosts and mystery.

 

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The ruins of the abbey destroyed by the Vikings are haunted by the monks who were massacred.

 

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On Holy Island, my grandson Tigran, in the foreground, and Pierre stop to indulge in a bit of reading and reflection.

 

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The fabulous Bamburgh Castle sits above an interminable shore. The castle has been featured in a number of films set in the Middle Ages.

 

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From the shores of Bamburgh one can see many small islands, and on this day, a ghostly sailboat.

 

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The Marchmont House in Berwickshire belonged to the McEwen family, who welcomed me into their home during my youth, and to this day continue to show me the same hospitality and affection. I spent many wonderful vacations in this home, surrounded by an exceptional family.

 

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Voilà, the most recognizable inhabitant of Scotland.


by  Prince Michael of Greece