Culture’em early!

ccnancyjardineThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

Our local schools have recently had their 2 week spring holiday. When I was teaching, those two weeks were avidly awaited – they were an opportunity to recharge my batteries and snatch a short break in cultural venues steeped in history like Vienna, Barcelona, or Mediterranean islands like Malta or Crete. The destinations never needed long haul flights, European cities being easily achievable in a couple of hours from a Scottish airport.

Now it’s my grand kids who’re locked into the school holiday system so, as a regular carer, I’m back to taking spring holiday breaks. We’ll work up to a whole week away…but not just yet… that’ll take a wee bit of practising! At present it’s a ‘Day Out’, one at a time.

Crathes Castle taken 2013

Last week we picnicked at 16th century Crathes Castle, along with my daughter who had a day off work. After a long visit to a brand new soft play area, there was heaps of grass to play ball on and space to throw a Frisbee. My 4½ year old granddaughter wanted to go into the walled garden having remembered the fountain and various other interesting features from previous visits, her recall of things quite astounding.


April 2016
My grandson, only just turned 2 years old, was convinced it was Tinkerbell’s Castle and wanted to go inside, though an inside tour hadn’t been on the original plan for the day. With two adults it was doable—one adult and two little kids not so much.

Aberdeenshire is coined as ‘castle country’. It has the greatest amount of castles per acre in Scotland and there’s a plethora of them to visit, some of them now administered by The National Trust of Scotland of which I’ve been a member for the last thirty years. The interiors are all distinctively different, well preserved, and full of ancient treasures so it’s with trepidation that I enter the portals with a two year old, but I think that you’ve got to culture’em early!

Crathes Castle is set in magnificent grounds of around 600 acres which are typical of other grand estates in Royal Deeside. Aberdeenshire castles have an impressive history that’s documented but also shrouded in legend. The present Crathes Castle, completed c. 1596 and which took around 40 years to build, was the home of the Burnett family for many centuries and was only given over to The National Trust for Scotland organisation in 1959, when the new Burnett heir, resident in New Zealand, couldn’t maintain the property.

via amazon

Legend plays a part in the story because it’s said that the most prized treasure of Crathes Castle is ‘The Horn of Leys’ which Alexander de Burnard received from King Robert The Bruce in 1323 as his badge of office as forester (overseer of the estates). ‘The Horn of Leys’ is a highly decorated carved ivory horn which now hangs encased behind glass in the High Hall at Crathes Castle;  the horn symbol also a part of the Heraldic Coat of Arms of the Burnett family (the name change from Burnard was a common trait) . Photography is not allowed in the castle but the general idea at left of the horn has been taken from a book on Amazon. (I’m not sure I’d be willing to pay over £200 for this copy, though)

My problem with visiting even fairly well known castles is that there’s always something new that I’ve not absorbed on earlier visits that just begs to be researched. I’d never thought before of what the first family dwelling of the Burnetts  might have been, i.e. before the present castle was built, but it’s an intriguing question that begs to be researched. The problem is that there’s no documentation from the early 1300s to clarify the answer!

If you’re interested in learning more there are some scant details about our visit to the castle and an intriguing mystery about the first home of the Burnett family who lived on the Crathes estate on my BLOG .

What do you think about culturing ’em early? 

Whatever you’re doing this weekend – enjoy it!

Nancy Jardine writes:

Historical Romantic AdventuresCFS End Sept 2015 




Contemporary Romantic Mysteries3 mysteries




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19 thoughts on “Culture’em early!

  1. I’m not doing anything too entirely cultural this weekend, though I did get to see a musical Wednesday. I was writing a review of it so they let me in to watch the final dress rehearsal.


    1. That might have been a very telling experience, Joe. Dress rehearsals often have their ‘moments’. 🙂 Sounds like you’re having fun doing the pre-review writing bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Since I don’t have kids or grandkids, I can’t speak on such a personal level, but having been an education coordinator for a history center and for a humane society, I do believe we need to teach children about history and to reach their hearts about the plight of animals. Kids need an understanding not only of heritage but also of worlds different from theirs, including animals and people in need. I hope to instill empathy and respect into the lives I reach through my school visits today, and sometimes that respect includes remembering our ancestors and the travails they endured. Thanks for sharing your history, and your future, with us, Nancy! 🙂 Enjoy these next two weeks!


  3. Fascinating, since I’ve read some regency romances that almost always include castles, I’d love to visit some real ones. I did visit one in Victoria, Britsh Columbia, Canada, but far smaller than the ones you are describing. I agree about introducing the children early, it will stay with them. Sounds like your grandchildren have great memories too. Thanks for sharing your adventures.


    1. Thanks, Neva and I hope you get to a castle like those around me, someday. I had afternoon tea in a very grand builiding in Victoria, British Columbia, when I was visiting Vancouver Island but I don’t remember it being a castle. We only spent an afternoon in Victoria having come off the ferry so only saw the famous (and fabulous) Butchart Gardens.


  4. You are so right, and you are the perfect person to teach them. With you’re knowledge and v of course, patience with your grandchildren. This sound like a very interesting castle. If I ever make it to Scotland, I hope you will show me some odd those places of interest. Cher’ley


  5. I think it’s a great idea to start them young. Sounds like a wonderful place to explore. Here in the USA we don’t have the long history, as you do, but we took our kids to lots of historical sites and museums and such. Lots of complaints as they got to be teens but they secretly enjoyed it. Have fun with the grandkids!


    1. Thanks, Kate. Yes, there comes that grudging time but when they talk about the visits as adults you can tell they are memorable.


  6. I don’t have grandkids to take on cultural visits to historic places. I’ve toured Civil War battlefields with buddies. In North Carolina during visits by my Mom, we’d take in some of the historic places — Asheville’s Biltmore, a quite impressive 19th century mansion and estate built by railroad tycoon Vanderbilt; the last home of Carl Sandburg near Asheville; Kill Devil Hills where the Wright Brothers flew. Mom has since passed, but those trips with her are precious memories.


    1. Yes,Mike. It isn’t just kids that I take to such places. My Canadian cousin visited a couple of years ago, one I’d not ever met before, and she loved the historic sites we visited. I have plenty of U.S places to cover on future visits. I’m heading for Pasadena at the end of Aug/ into Sept for a family wedding and hope to also get to Las Vegas which I’ve not been to. Bryce Canyon is also on the list and I hope to visit some heritage places on our travels.


  7. All I can say is that you have some lucky grandchildren! To have a grandmother that takes the time to see that they are immersed in culture early on is not only fantastic, but fortunate for them, as they learn about the history of their country. When my husband was stationed in Germany in the 60’s we toured every castle close enough to drive in a day or often went on bus trips. I was fascinated and the memories are still vivid!


    1. Thanks Linda. German castles are really impressive. I’ve visited a few Rhine ones many years ago- breathtaking and huge. Heidelberg Castle is a bit different. I added a bit about the Apothecary Museum at Heidelberg Castle into my mystery – Topaz Eyes because it was quirkily different!


  8. “Culture ’em early.” Exactly. I suspect your grandchildren will treasure the time your days together when they’re older. It must be lovely to live in a place where history is valued and preserved for the public.


  9. I definitely believe in “culture ’em early.” I fear too many American kids don’t travel or leave their state or become exposed to things like museums often enough. I think it’s so important to learn about other cultures which teaches kids the value of acceptance and opens their minds to new things. I hope to visit Scotland one day, it’s one of the few countries I didn’t get to visit in my whirlwind Europe tour with my dad when I was young.


  10. I have always believed it is important to teach children a variety of things when they are young. The more you expose them to the more you expand their view of the world.


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