Wemyss Castle is situated on the sea cliffs between the villages of East Wemyss and West Wemyss. Accounts date the construction of the castle to 1421 when Sir John Wemyss decided to build a fortified castle to replace one destroyed by the Duke of Rothesay at Kilconquhar in 1402. The castle is thus the ancient seat of the Earls of Wemyss and their families. Historically, the castle is perhaps best known as the location where Mary, Queen of Scots, met her future husband Lord Darnley, in 1565.
On 11 May 1590 a party of Danish commissioners led by Peder Munk and the Scottish lawyer John Skene stayed at Wemyss Castle. Their task was to view and take sasine of Falkland Palace and Dunfermline Palace and Linlithgow Palace, the properties given to Anne of Denmark by James VI of Scotland as a 'morning gift'.
In April 1591 King James had Lilias (or Sophia) Ruthven, a daughter of William Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie, shut away in Wemyss Castle to prevent her marrying Ludovic Stewart, 2nd Duke of Lennox. Lennox managed to get his bride out of the castle and marry her at Dunkeld, and after 10 days the king allowed the couple to come to court.
In 1592 Sir John Wemyss of Wemyss provided a refuge at the castle for the queen's Danish lady-in-waiting Margaret Winstar whose partner John Wemyss of Logie had plotted with Francis Stewart, 5th Earl of Bothwell against the king.
In the 1890s the nearby Coaltown of Wemyss was established as an estate village on land belonging to Wemyss Castle, in order to house mineworkers employed in several coal mines in the area.
Wemyss is an imposing castle sitting high atop cliffs with a view over the Firth of Forth. Two particular points of interest are that one of the towers from an earlier building has been re-used, first as a windmill and later as a dovecote. There is also an oval-shaped dungeon within the castle, connected to the building by a 30m zigzag passage. Wemyss castle was restored in the 1950s and remains a residence. Members of today's Royal Family, including the Queen, have visited.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.