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The ruins of Castle Urquhart, blown up by the Scots to prevent the English from getting the castle.
Craigievar Castle near Aberdeen.

Jedburgh Abbey in Jedburgh, Scotland along the Scottish-English border, is truly "a shell of its former self". Back in the 12th century it was the religious center of the border area; but the area and the abbey suffered from constant attacks by the English. In 1523, they burned it, leaving only the shell behind. Standing in the center of the Abbey today is like standing in the middle of an ancient Egyptian temple (but without the sand).

Jedburgh Abbey Exterior
Jedburgh Abbey Interior

In the 1600s, the Kerr family took over one of the transepts, walled it up and turned it into a crypt. Today, only Kerrs are permitted to visit the crypt; we told the caretaker we were Kerrs and asked to see it. She got the key, a huge, heavy skeleton key, escorted us to the small door, unlocked it and let us in. I had expected a crypt would be a small room, hidden away in dark, dank basement.

Not this one, room was 15' x 25' with 30 foot ceiling, stained glass windows (the only ones left in the abbey). In the center was a single stone sarcophagus where an Alexander Kerr, died 1832, was buried. On the walls are carved stone plaques behind which were older Kerrs going back to the 1600s. Several with our "Sero Sed Serio" ("Late, but in Earnest") motto.

Ferniehirst Castle

Next day, we visited Ferniehirst Castle; the ancestral home of the Kerrs. It dates from the 1400s and is the current residence of Lord Lothian, the Chief of Clan Kerr. It's only open to the public in July and we were there, bright and early the first day. Got to see Lord Lothian himself. Had a really nice tour of the home, chapel, and the Kerr Museum.

Their family living room had the feel of an ordinary, nice family home; except, of course, it's in a really neat castle and there are Christmas cards from Queen Elizabeth on the mantel.