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The Art of Retrospection and the Country Houses of Post-Restoration Scotland

The Art of Retrospection and the Country Houses of Post-Restoration Scotland Charles Wemyss The philosophy of The Scottish Chateau undermined the established theory that the Restoration marked Scotland's emergence from the Dark Ages to a brilliant new dawn of refinement and culture. Far from isolated and barbaric, the Scottish nobility had been educated in Paris, Rome or Leiden and were as enlightened as any in Europe. Yet the idea of the defensive tower-house persists. This article argues that retrospective reference to castellated tradition in the seventeenthcentury Scottish nobleman's house was rather a conscious assertion of ancestry. It had become clear that the `castles' were castles only in name, and that, in many cases, such a name was a modern attribution. They were, rather, indefensible stately houses or country seats. Yet what extraordinary passion this interpretation provoked . . . To remove the warlike overcoat of these great houses was tantamount to robbing them of their dignity and personality. (Charles McKean, The Scottish Chateau1 ) The pictorial evidence of post-Restoration Scotland illustrates a society that was far from enlightened: contemporary portraits reveal a succession of noblemen dressed in armour as if for battle.2 Furthermore, this old-fashioned lifestyle is well documented. The diary of Thomas Kirke, who travelled around Scotland in http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Architectural Heritage Edinburgh University Press

The Art of Retrospection and the Country Houses of Post-Restoration Scotland

Architectural Heritage , Volume 26 (1): 25 – Nov 1, 2015

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
© The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, 2015
Subject
Historical Studies
ISSN
1350-7524
eISSN
1755-1641
DOI
10.3366/arch.2015.0065
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Charles Wemyss The philosophy of The Scottish Chateau undermined the established theory that the Restoration marked Scotland's emergence from the Dark Ages to a brilliant new dawn of refinement and culture. Far from isolated and barbaric, the Scottish nobility had been educated in Paris, Rome or Leiden and were as enlightened as any in Europe. Yet the idea of the defensive tower-house persists. This article argues that retrospective reference to castellated tradition in the seventeenthcentury Scottish nobleman's house was rather a conscious assertion of ancestry. It had become clear that the `castles' were castles only in name, and that, in many cases, such a name was a modern attribution. They were, rather, indefensible stately houses or country seats. Yet what extraordinary passion this interpretation provoked . . . To remove the warlike overcoat of these great houses was tantamount to robbing them of their dignity and personality. (Charles McKean, The Scottish Chateau1 ) The pictorial evidence of post-Restoration Scotland illustrates a society that was far from enlightened: contemporary portraits reveal a succession of noblemen dressed in armour as if for battle.2 Furthermore, this old-fashioned lifestyle is well documented. The diary of Thomas Kirke, who travelled around Scotland in

Journal

Architectural HeritageEdinburgh University Press

Published: Nov 1, 2015

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