Juxtaposition of Time and History

Edinburgh Castle and the Ross Fountain

Edinburgh Castle and the Ross Fountain – winter

There are wonderful juxtapositions of layers of history, all around the ancient heart of Edinburgh. The famous castle, so emblematic of the city, sits on the core of an ancient long extinct volcano. Formed 340 million years ago, this rocky foundation sets the scene for wonderful tales which ripple out across the ages. Around 1000 years before Christ was born, the ancient inhabitants of this land built upon this towering rock, and people have looked out across the landscape from here ever since. The tales of King Arthur and his family are woven deeply into the landscape, and they still echo in our minds today. Known as the Castle of the Maidens, this was an ancient holy site, sacred to the cult of the nine maidens, and Arthur’s mother Igraine was initiated here at the heart of the land of her birth.
Far below these sacred rocks lies the wonderful golden fountain of the maidens, in Princes Street gardens. Forged in France, the Ross fountain was erected here over 140 years ago, to much public outcry at the indecent nature of the voluptuous maidens. In many ways it is perfectly fitting, following in the long tradition of female veneration at the site, and yet the juxtaposition of golden French fantasy next to the robust and rugged rocks and stones of the castle and it’s rock make for an interesting contrast.

Sailsbury Craigs, Arthurs Seat, Edinburgh - snow storm begins

Sailsbury Crags, Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

In many ways Edinburgh is a city of wonderful contrasts, with its ancient volcanic bedrock still shaping the landscape today. Arthur’s Seat rises uncompromising and unapologetic in the centre of the city, giving us the gift of a wild and rugged mountain scape surrounded by the ever expanding flow of houses, churches and shops. The contrast between natures beauty and mans attempts, are served up side by side, leaving no doubt about the winner. It’s hard to ignore the layers of history when they are revealed so clearly before us. Old and new sit comfortably together, but the enduring qualities of natures creations are a humbling reminder about our place in the world. The collective endeavors of our ancestors are the layers which last, and that’s worth remembering in these self focused times. History rolls on, leaving stories and clues in her wake.

See more juxtapositions at the DP weekly photo challenge

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About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home with my husband, my son and a collection of cats and dogs. I am forever snapping shots of things which catch my eye. I love art which is here now and gone tomorrow...like food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist, and run the Maggies Highlands Cancer Centre, in Inverness, Scotland.
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57 Responses to Juxtaposition of Time and History

  1. Pingback: Unexpected Pairings | Pairings :: Art + What Goes With It

  2. All of your many posts have strongly proven the intimacy of contemporary life and history in your world. I’m jealous (I think I’ve said that before). Sorry for being out of touch for a few days … no excuses … it’s just that it’s been really cold here, and that always brings extra degrees of work. D

  3. Pete says:

    I love Edinburgh, I am only 70 odd miles away, but I get even more disgusted at the prices they charge to get into the castle to the point that I refuse to go in. Thank you for visiting my family, I did a series of images for an American author who was writing a children’s book which I didn’t think it came to print, cannot even remember the authors name. Thanks again πŸ™‚

    • Edinburgh’s such a pretty city it’s hard not to like it!
      I joined Historic Scotland as a way of getting round paying the entrance fee to the castle, it gets me into almost all of Scotland’s castles and Palaces for an annual fee equivalent to around 3 visits. I can also take children under 16 in for free, which is perfect for visiting nephews and nieces. My brother got married there in October and they were so tight that any wedding guests who weren’t members had to pay the entrance fee!! Stirling Castle charges the same Β£15 entrance fee, but I think these are the two most expensive attractions πŸ™‚

  4. ladyfi says:

    Old and new in harmony! Lovely

  5. tree girl says:

    We don’t have any man-made structures older than 230 years here. We have plenty of natural grandeur millions of years old though.

    It always amazes me – the age and size of the castles overseas, and always built in impossible places. The craftsmanship and effort astounds me. And the history! If those walls could speak.

    Your writing adds texture to your photographs, imbues them with meaning.

    • Oh I know, I love the history slipping through the cracks and stones. So many key moments of Scottish history happened within these walls, birth, death, plots and treachery!!
      Natural grandeur is even more wonderful I think πŸ™‚

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  9. Tina Schell says:

    Oh Seonaid, wonderful post as always. I MUST get to Scotland soon. Very high on my list – history, the moors and golf. How can you go wrong?!

  10. LB says:

    I’ve always been fascinated by, and read all I could, about the Arthurian legends, and your photos here are wonderful. But it is these words that struck me “the enduring qualities of natures creations are a humbling reminder about our place in the world”. So true!

    • It’s hard to avoid this truth in Scotland, and in Edinburgh in particular, as the rocks and hills are so prominent!
      Ever since I was little I was fascinated by Arthur’s Seat, and all the tales of King Arthur. As time has rolled on it seems doubtless now that the tales were written about this piece of earth, carried orally down to Wales by the Goddodin Princes( the British or Brythonic tribe from what is now the Lothians and Northumberland) who settled there, and then in turn taken and woven into the history of England! It’s amazing the way that stories travel and are re woven πŸ™‚

  11. Such fascinating history, Seonaid, beautifully told. Your photos are so perfect for the challenge. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, I’m delighted you enjoyed the history.
      Apparently the original plan for the fountain was to place it on Princes Street at the junction with Castle Street, but that was deemed to public a space for such a vivacious display of golden flesh!

  12. Leya says:

    It’s always a treat extraordinary to read your posts, Seonaid. Thank you for taking us on this tour – now I long even more to visit this summer!

    • Ann Christine, I can’t wait for your visit. The only problem is trying to decide where you want to visit, as there is so much to see πŸ™‚

      • Leya says:

        Oh, we have made up a route and booked hostels as usual. We followed your advice about the west coast, and will probably visit Skye once more – you have shown such wonderful photos and I don’t remember much from 1977, so, it will be a mix of our old trip and your advice!

        I’m so much looking forward to it! Hopefully you will have some minutes for me. It would be terrific to meet your sweet dogs too if possible…

      • Of course I’m looking forward to it.
        What are your Edinburgh dates Ann Christine?

      • Leya says:

        Finish our round trip in Edinburgh, arrival 16 July late afternoon from direction Perth (stay the night there) and stay in Edinburgh only 17 July, Leave 18th early in the morning for home. Booked those 2 nights in Euro Hostel Edinburgh Halls. Hired a car for the trip, so we are leaving it on the airport. 17 july is our one whole day in Edinburgh. Driving down from Perth july 16 is of course an opportunity too . depending on where you are/live and what time you can find!

      • I’ve marked the dates in my calendar, I usually work Wednesdays and Thursdays, so I will take one of them as a day off…. The Wednesday might work better, but I wonder what time you will get here from Perth? My email is seonaid@infernalmachines.co.uk if you want to private message….

      • Leya says:

        Well, a day off…is that possible? I don’t want you to lose income because of me. Maybe in the evening, after your work? I don’t at all know when we come from Perth. I will keep your e-mail then, thank you!

  13. Rachael Charmley says:

    Beautifully written – like a story – which I suppose it is! I have always found the idea of ‘layers of history’ very seductive, whether in a city (had a flat in Edinburgh for a while), the landscape, or even an old building. I once lived in a late medieval house which was an interesting experience. Simple things like finding the site of a medieval doorway – which explained the hundreds of oyster shells directly outside, half buried in the ground.
    This is a lovely piece, and reminds me of how enriching it is to connect our lives with the past. Thanks for sharing.

    • Rachael, that medieval house sounds wonderful, history literally beneath your feet! I love old houses, I’ve never lived anywhere less than 150 years old….but medieval would be utterly enchanting.
      Somehow I can never resist linking the present back through the past.

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  16. poppytump says:

    I love your ‘juxtaposition’ interpretation with the Castle and Fountain image Seonaid !
    I like the story behind it , it is very easy to imagine the outcry at that time – no doubt it fast became a popular attraction πŸ˜‰
    I can tell you are very proud of your City – and with good reason – as you’ve shown here .

    • It did Poppy, but unfortunately the poor old benefactor who bought and gifted it to the city died while the row raged about its suitability and where to place it! It looks even more stunning when it’s switched on and flowing with water πŸ™‚
      And you’re also right about my love of Edinburgh, I think it’s the vast and rich depth of history which enchants me so…..along with its beauty.

  17. I really like the effects on Arthur’s Seat – I have not seen it from this angle before.

    • Thanks, that shot was taken at the start of a snow storm, so the light was unusual. It’s taken from halfway round the park towards Duddingston village. Not so many visitors make it round that far, heading upwards towards the lions mane instead πŸ™‚

  18. Lucid Gypsy says:

    It’s fascinating how our cities evolve. Wouldn’t it be great if we could go back through history with a time lapse camera and see the layers unpeeled?

    • Oh Gilly, I would love to be able to do that. It happens in my mind, but I would love to see it. Imagine castle rock, surrounded by the Nor Loch and woodland, with wild deer running through the trees …….

  19. suej says:

    I love layers of history, thanks for the tour!

  20. I’m mesmerized by this post. Years upon years of history in your first photo with aeons to follow.

  21. aekshots says:

    Always enjoy your shots in and around Edinburgh…nice post.

  22. dadirri7 says:

    beautiful post, and such interesting tales, thank you … and I love the photo of the castle and fountain πŸ˜€

  23. Amy says:

    Enjoyed the tour of Edinburgh! The history is very interesting and informative.

  24. momasteblog says:

    What a fairy tale. This photos don’t even look of this earth. Sublime. Xo

  25. The image at the top is stunning. I’m assuming that’s your work. Well done.

  26. pommepal says:

    Good interpretation of the theme

  27. Suzanne says:

    What a fascinating insight into the history of Edinburgh. It sounds like quite a magical city

  28. mmtread says:

    I recall taking a photo in Rome that had, in one shot that spanned no more than a couple of hundred meters in depth, Roman ruins, medieval walls, a Renaissance building, a baroque cupola, and modern buildings immediately behind it all. Time compression at its most readily observable. Amazing.

    • I love compressed layers of history like this, they help me to keep life in perspective. I nearly posted a shot I took in Rome, but there are so many layers right here in my home town…..340 million years is hard to beat!

  29. I have always wanted to visit Edinburgh,and now, thanks to your enchanting tour, I have. Thank you for the historical tour.

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