Monday, July 21, 2008

scotland--our final day

We left Helensbourgh at 11:00 and began the journey back to England. We had no definite plans--we were just going to stop whenever we saw something that interested us.
Our first stop, Dumbarton Castle, was only about an hour down the road in Dumbarton.
"From at least the 5th to the 11th century AD, this volcanic plug of basalt was the centre of the independent British kingdom of Strathclyde. For a short time in the 9th century it may have served as Viking headquarters."
There were probably 300 steps to the top, but it was a great cardio workout:) We loaded back up into the van and headed down the road! Michaela read. Emma sang. Steve dozed. I drove.
Our next stop was a few hours down the road...The New Abbey Corn Mill. Not sure why it was called a corn mill...they milled oats!!
The mill had been commercially in operation from the 1700's until 1946--with the same equipment, with the exception of the mill stones, since the 1700's. Now that is quality machinery!!! There has actually been a mill on that site for over 700 years (the abbey we visit next had maintained a mill while the monks resided there in the 1200's).

The pond that supplies the water for the mill

We bought some oatmeal flour and then headed up the hill to the abbey.

Before going into the abbey, we were able to look over the fence across the street and watch a game of lawn bowling. Emma had been asking what they knocked over in lawn bowling, so it was great to be able to show her people actually playing it. Interesting game---if only we knew all the rules! Sweetheart Abbey was established in 1273 by Devorgilla, Lady of Galloway, in memory of her husband, John Balliol. John Balliol was the father of King John of Scotland and the founder of Balliol College in Oxford. Lady Devorgilla died in 1289, and was buried with her husband's embalmed heart in front of the high alter of the church. I am not sure if that is romantic or just creepy!The Cistercian Order of monks lived there until 1560, when the reformation brought the life of the abbey to an end. Much of the cloister material was taken and used for building material elsewhere in the 'kingdom'. The abbey lay in ruin until 1779, when it was slated for demolition!!!!!! It was rescued and is now in state care.
It was now 5:00pm, and everything in the UK closes at 5:00, so we loaded back into the van and continued on our journey.

We finally were able to get a room on the base near church (we had been calling all three bases for a few days to try to get a room but they were all booked), so we headed east and MANY hours later we arrived at Mildenhall and crashed!!! We are back home.