Friday, January 9, 2015

Gylen Castle - Kerrera

The walk to Gylen Castle is one of the best in the islands. Making it a loop, by going via Barnamboc on the west side of Kerrera, makes it even better. Gylen is an impressive ruin, a 50 foot high tower house standing atop a cliff at the south end of Kerrera. I have seen its Gaelic name, Caisteal nan Geimhlean, translated as 'Castle of Springs', but the word Geimhlean can mean enslavement, or imprisonment, so its name may better translate to 'The Prison'.

For more on Gylen see this RCAHMS page.

Gylen Castle - seaward side seen from the courtyard at the edge of the cliff (stitched photo)
Gylen Castle - Landward side with Oriel window (top left)
Gylen from the west - Scarba in the far distance
Gylen from the east
Gylen from the sea
Gylen is also known for its oriel window. Inset in the window is a carving of a woman’s head; her long hair spreading down and out in both directions to become a cable moulding that runs along the bottom of the window. One braid of her hair winds around to the carving of a man in a skull-cap, who is pulling on this rope of hair (left side of photo). Her other braid winds around to the carving of what looks to be a man wearing a helmet or, as was reported by a visitor in 1800, a bagpipe player, who is also pulling on the rope of hair. It would be interesting to know the story behind this tug-of-war for the lady’s attention. Which course in life do you think she chose? Life with a musician, or life as a religious?

Oriel Window
Oriel window carving detail
A visit to the castle is not complete without a stop at nearby Gylen Tearoom. Last time I passed by it was closed, hopefully it will be open next time.

Gylen Tearoom

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