Melgund Castle, lying around two kilometres due east of Aberlemno, is a 16th-century L-plan castle which has been partially restored as a private residence.
The land was initially held by the Cramonds, but it passed to the Clan Bethune or Beaton. castle has been said to have been built in 1543 on the orders of Cardinal David Beaton, Archbishop of St Andrews and Chancellor of Scotland, as a home for himself and his mistress, Margaret Ogilvie. However, Charles McKean has argued that the work of the 1540s was a re-modelling of an earlier building. Other sources believe that the builder of the castle was probably David Bethune, son of the Cardinal and Ogilvie, and date the building to about 1560. It much later passed by marriage to the Earls of Minto, who were granted the title Viscount Melgund, presently used by the heir to the earldom. It remained in the family until it was sold in 1990.
The castle was extensively investigated by archaeologists between 1990 and 1996 in preparation for its partial conversion into a residence. The work was completed in August 2002, mostly using local materials which included stone from a specially re-opened quarry nearby. The domestic range to the east of the keep has been retained in its ruined state and the primary exterior difference is the new roof to the keep.
It comprised a four-storey keep with an attic and a stair tower that appears to have been raised to act as a watchtower. Its two-storey domestic range on the east had a round tower at the north-east corner.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.