Sinister Dusk at Barnbougle Castle

I had never been, and yet I knew it was there, sitting on the very edge of the Dalmeny Estate, shrouded in trees, tall and dark, old and haunted. My father once told me about this house, and I believe we once walked nearby he and I. 40 years later, I finally saw Barnbougle Castle, that derelict and unloved structure on the Forth Estuary. I had walked from South Queensferry, on an autumn afternoon, as dusk gathered gently and the woods became haunted and primeval, the home of goblins and the spectres of the Roman soldiers who once lived and died here. I was totally alone now, and I walked in silence. There was no sound, other than the gentle movement of crisp leaves. I passed a hidden bay with a beach of white sand; it reminded me of the islands in the far north and west of Scotland. And here Barnbougle Castle sat beyond a fence, lonely, left to rot. It was designed in Edinburgh’s Golden Age, a time of Georgian splendour, when the city was the Athens of the North by day and the ghoulish darkness of Burke and Hare by night. Despite being designed by Robert Adam, it was said to be cold and inhospitable, a legend told of waves crashing through the dining rooms on a stormy night. In the end it was used to store explosives, and inevitably an explosion rendered it obsolete. The family meanwhile had moved to the larger house further inland. I lingered a little at the gates of the castle. I had wanted to see it and now I was here.



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