You know that chest pounding feeling you get when you're in trouble? Either you know you've screwed up, or worse you have no idea what you've done and you're frantically trying to race through all of the possibilities. When I walked through a side door and stepped up the well worn and grooved stairs in the ruins of Elgin Cathedral (circa 1215) my mind was admittedly mostly focused on trying to shove my flying hair back into my hat. But then I realized where I was...the circular chapter house of the cathedral where decisions got discussed and handed down, and discpline was decided. I went back and looked at the well worn slope in the step. I walked slowly back in (properly this time). The administering bishop sat on the highest chair, with others spanning out by rank. It must have been terrifying and otherworldly in maybe the same kind of way we look at sci-fi. In fact, the round church court almost could have been a set piece from Star Wars, a reminder that the threads of history still weave their way into current culture in all kinds of ways?
Continuing with my hypothetical ghosts, this area had its own Ramsay Snow. The Wolf of Badenoch, bastard son of the King's brother. The curator told us he was married to a lady who was very prayerful but not exactly "bonny in the face". While they both probably resented their marriage, she took to praying to saints and he took to spawning a lot of children as he rampaged through the countryside tormenting everyone with his corruption and debauchary. The bishop (in the aforementioned cathedral) finally had enough and excommunicated our Ramsay Bolton...who responded by burning down the cathedral. It seems Cathedrals around these parts had a habit of burning down every fifty years or so (always to be rebuilt). Until the Reformation when it wasn't fire that destroyed the place, but cold hard pragmatism. The lead from the roof was taken to pay soldiers their salary and the wood was chopped up for firewood during a particularly harsh winter. Without a roof, the cathedral crumbled in short order. A giant lego set of untold thousands of man hours...gone. I think I need to read Ecclesiastes again.
I could go on and on about the cathedral, but I still have to get to the distillery, so I'll leave off with one last tidbit. Their were carved faces at the meeting point of each structural center. They were called vault bosses which to my American ears sounds like a stone gargoyle mafia. And I know I'm probably the last person on the planet to know this, but castles (and cathedrals) were painted! Like glazed easter eggs instead of the somber gray stone we see these days.
After saying our respects to all of the Knights (and babies) buried at Elgin. We headed over to the Glen Moray distillery (don't ask me how to pronounce "Moray". It's not "Mor- aye" , they say it like "Murray", but whenever I say it like that, I get corrected. I finally just told the tour guide to call me a Sassenach. He obliged.)
After we left Glen Moray we went to a historic distillery Dallas Dhu (whose grandson settled and named Dallas TX). Scottish whiskey is verra serious business and drinking it is practically a national occupation (Also, Jim is definitely in the wrong business.) It was so cool to crawl all over the old historic distillery after learning all the nuts and bolts over at the modern one. I could so picture Jamie and Fergus shoveling grain with wee Germaine helping. Did you know it comes out clear and only gets its color from the barrels? (hash tag...more things I probably should have already known).
We're in Inverness now in some sort of little hole in the wall hostel. But it's clean(ish) and doesn't smell of patchouli and weed, so I'm counting it a win. It's also smack dab in the center of town which makes walking and eating easy (two of our favorite pastimes). We had venison sausage over stilton mashed tatties and steak pie. Yum. Took us several laps around the city in the rain to walk it off.