Monday, July 31, 2017

Anatomy of a Castle: The Servants' Realm

Recreation of a hot and busy kitchen in Stirling Castle, Scotland. 
Castles were once well-oiled machines and the people that really held it together were the servants: the cooks, scullions (kitchen assistants), butlers, stewards, gardeners, chamber maids, blacksmiths, stable boys, maids, servers, and surely some folks I'm forgetting. Some of the more commonplace elements of castles are actually my favorite things: gigantic fireplaces, usually part of kitchens where whole animals might be roasting or being smoked, or where giant cauldrons could be hung to simmer stews and soups, dimly lit barrel vaulted cellars, beehive dovecotes which still serve as home to many birds.   

Fireplace at Craigmillar Castle, Scotland

Cellars Storeroom (Sometimes called and Undercroft) for storing ales, wines, food or supplies. Dirleton Castle, Scotland

Cellar at Dunnottar Castle, Scotland

Cellar at Dunnottar Castle, Scotland

Urqhart Castle, Scotland
Well at Dunnottar Castle - a source of fresh water within the castle walls was a necessity for any castle especially in the case of a siege. 
This beehive shaped structure is a Dovecote which is a home for pigeons or doves to nest, as these were a source of food for the castle. Think of them as the castles chicken coop. The birds were kept for their meat, eggs and dung (fertilizer). The bands on the outside prevented rats from climbing the structure to the top where the birds enter. This Dovecote is just below the tiered gardens of Aberdour Castle, Scotland

Dovecote at Aberdour Castle, Scotland - In Scotland they are often referred to as a doocote

The nesting boxes inside of dovecote at Hailes Castle, Scotland
Dovecote at Crossraguel Abbey, Scotland

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