Earlshall Castle was built by Sir William Bruce, a survivor of the Battle of Flodden, in 1546. One member of the family died at the battle of Worcester in 1651. Another, Sir Andrew, gained himself the name “Bloody Bruce” by hacking off the hands and head of Covenanter Richard Cameron after defeating him at the battle of Airds Moss during the Killing Time.
The castle became abandoned and ruinous, until it was restored by Sir Robert Lorimer in 1892, for R W R Mackenzie, a bleacher from Perth. It has passed through several hands since, and is still occupied. The tapestries, paintings and Lorimer furniture have been dispersed.
There is a main block of three storeys and a garret. There is a large tower at one corner, with a small stair-turret in the angle with the main block. On the other corner a round stair tower is corbelled out to square; at the top is a watch-chamber. The dormer pediments are decorated by carved heraldic devices.
The vaulted basement is reached through the entrance in the stair-tower. On the first floor is the hall, which has panelled walls, and a large carved fireplace, 2.7 metres wide.
The second floor ceiling is decorated in tempera; this dates from 1620. The decoration includes paintings of an ostrich and an armadillo, and mottoes such as “A NICE WYF AND A BACK DOORE OFT MAKETH A RICH MAN POORE”. The ceiling was carefully taken down and the missing parts replaced during the restoration by Lorimer.
The main block, with a slightly higher wing, occupies two sides of the courtyard; there is a separate tower with three storey, the lower two vaulted, and some buildings dated to the 17th century. The courtyard is entered through an archway, dated 1546, bearing the arms of Sir William Bruce.
There is a formal garden, replanted since the restoration of 1892. It has yew hedges and topiary.
As of 2019, the castle was a private residence with ten bedrooms and eight reception rooms, including the Long Galley with a famous painted ceiling, restored by Sir Robert Lorimer.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.