My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Cilgerran Castle & Teifi Gorge

I've been on holiday! 

Day 1 of my holiday was in Wales, in the South West of the country. I visited Cilgerran Castle in Pembrokeshire with Raven. Raven, though Irish, lived in Wales for over 20 years and has been teaching me snippets of Welsh vocabulary. 

Afon - River
(Hence the River Avon in Somerset, West England, as 'f' is pronounced like 'v' in Welsh)
Pysgod - Fish

Raven drove in the sunshine across the Welsh countryside along narrow winding roads with spectacular views until we got to this small village above the Teifi Gorge. We went down a particularly steep and narrow lane to a car-park down beside the river where there were some remarkably posh stone-built public toilets with a sheltered display on the outside wall of informative plaques telling of the river's history in both Welsh and English. As it was Easter Sunday afternoon and actually sunny, it was quite busy with families out to enjoy the outdoors.
Path above the River Teifi
Photograph by the Housecat
We strolled along the riverside and up the wooded slope, and rapidly I figured that a long skirt and even low-heeled granny-boots were both a bit impractical as I snagged my skirts on brambles and walked very carefully up the many steps indeed. Raven rather enjoyed photographing every interesting thing he came across, as did I. In the end I took over 100 photographs that afternoon, even if I am only showing a few here on this blog entry - things could get rather slow on the loading time otherwise! We walked past an old slate quarry and up alongside the river. 
Taking notes
Photograph by Raven of Chance Photography
I sat for a bit in this wonderful slate-encircled seating area amongst the trees, which if I go again I will note as a nice picnic spot. In the photograph I am writing in a notebook I bought especially for this holiday, to take notes for both my diary and my blog. 
The Sally Gate
Photograph by the Housecat
We walked beneath the castle for a bit, looking up at the towers and in through the 'Sally Gate' as I heard someone call it. I over-heard a father tell his son that it was not named after a woman called Sally but thus called because one sallies through it! I took several photos of the gate, but I liked these two detailed photos most of all. 
A closer detail of the gate.
Photograph by the Housecat
At this point I could hear distant strains of music on the wind. I couldn't make out quite what it was that was playing (I presume it was a radio or other recorded music) but it sounded like a woman singing in Welsh. It seemed quite beautiful and a bit magical to hear just these snatches of wonderful singing. Anyway, around this point I dropped the pen I had borrowed off Raven, so I didn't take many notes for a while! 

Castell - Castle
Tŵr - Tower
(These two are quite similar in both languages)

We then walked a bit further along and down to the river at a different point. Raven skimmed stones and I walked on the shallow shores where the water was an inch at most above the water and had a go at skimming stones too, but I am quite useless at this! 
Raven at the River Teifi
Photograph by the Housecat
I was wearing a scarf about my hair because even though it was sunny, it was a bit breezy and my hair kept blowing into my eyes. At least you get to see the skull scarf I was wearing, which is a cheap one from Primark, but does have a nice lace-like skull pattern on it. 
Looking out across the Teifi
Photograph by Raven of Chance Photography
After a brief hunt for the lost pen, we walked up to the castle and entered it properly. The castle is pay-to-enter and owned by the National Trust. Raven paid for my entry and I used my entry money to buy my little niece a children's book called 'The Little Dragon' and deep plum-coloured quill to carry on my note-taking with. 
Tower and cloudy sky
Photograph by the Housecat
There has been a castle on the site since around 1100CE, but the castle in its present form was built between the 13th and 14thC, with a lot done in 1223 by William Marshal Jr. (See, reading those plaques in the Castle grounds is educational!).
Walkways within the castle
Photograph by the Housecat
One of the wonderful things about visiting the castle is that you can walk inside the buildings as it is reasonably well preserved for a ruin, and as bridges have been built between the remaining stairwells. Raven took a photograph of me from above - he on a walkway, I in the base of the tower.
The Housecat with camera
Photograph by Raven
All the roofs are gone, as is often the case with ancient buildings as the timber rots once the slates or tiles fall or are salvaged (I would imagine slates at this castle, as there is so much of the stuff locally) but the stone, if built well, seems to withstand the centuries so much better. I took the photo below looking upwards in one of the towers. 
Into the light!
Photograph by the Housecat
One of my favourite things about looking at ruins is it gives such a glimpse into how the building was built. The rows of holes in the wall of this tower are where huge wooden beams would have once kept the floors up, for example. The whole castle is built of quite small (relatively) and flat blocks of slate - the local stone - and it is interesting to see something other than roof tiles as an architectural use of slate. I also like seeing the 'fans' of slate above the windows - you see that done nowadays still! Slate is quite an interesting material, with a good variety of uses. 

Anyway, I hope the castle photographs are pleasing, as there is another castle post on its way tomorrow. 


  1. I really want to go to Wales one day. I am part Welsh, and I feel like maybe it is the place where my heart is.

    I love the black and white photos, they look beautiful. The one of you sitting on the bench all cloaked is rather mysterious, like a ghost or spirit.

    I love slate. As a kid I lived in a house with black slate floors in the living room. Rather cold in winter but rather beautiful. The sensation of the slate is rather unique, not quite like rock, if I remember right.

    1. Slate, while it is a rock, feels different from many sedimentary rocks often used in building like sandstone or flooring, like marbles. Like flint and marble, it's an architectural stone with a very unique set of properties.

      The one of me on the bench writing notes makes me think of something between a ghoul and a monk.

  2. It looks like a very special place. It must have been awe inspiring to actually go inside a castle. Such a visit would have my imagination running wild.

    1. I have been visiting castles for as long as I can remember - from the fortified abbey at Mont Saint- Michel (off the Normandy coast, and not too long a drive away from Saint-Malo and Rennes, where my maternal family live) that I actually cannot remember visiting it was so long ago and I was so little, onwards and even so, these structures continue to fascinate, impress and inspire me.

  3. The black and white imagery works very well. We were in Wales earlier in the year (March time) and got to visit a castle or two. We tried getting ocean shots, but the light wasn't right, plus, Wales, torrential rain ..

    1. It often rains in Wales, but they do have sunshine sometimes!


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