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, 21 May 2017

Dundee City

For New Year's/Hogmanay, I went to stay with some friends in Dundee. I think it was either New Year's Day or 2nd January, but one of the days of the trip, Raven and I went for a wander around the city. There's a lot of very pretty architecture there, and an interesting cemetery in the city centre. Raven and I were on a quest to find a specific restaurant, so most of the pictures were just snapshots, and I didn't get a chance to look at what they actually were, and with this being exam season (and with me having been generally extremely busy with college this spring) so there's not my usual historical and architectural context.

Quiet Dundee Streets

The one place I have some context on is the Howff Burial Ground. It is urban, bordered on two sides by walls and roads, and on the other two by the rear walls - and windows - of tall Victorian buildings, including the former newspaper offices. There's a windowed tourelle on one of the old newspaper offices that seems to be firstly an afterthought, and both leaking and leaning precariously, which seemed expected - the whole cemetery seemed like a bubble within the city that was in a different time and a little bit like a different world. Even the trees there were tangled, winding and strangely shaped! The burial ground was originally part of the grounds of a Franciscan monastery, and I think the wall with the arches dates from 1601!

Tangle-wood tree

I don't know if this is is a specific species of tree that grows like this, or the result of some kind of pruning technique, but this tree just grew in knots and tangles and lumps and snags. I've never seen a tree like it, but there were at least two in Howff Cemetery. There were no leaves or flowers on it so I, who am no expert on trees, didn't even have that to go on to identify them.

It is possible to do a virtual cemetery tour if you look up 'The Howff' in Dundee, Scotland, on Google StreetView. Apparently it was uploaded by a Google user (a Kevin Reid) - I didn't even know that was possible! It looks like it was done with one of those 360° image cameras or something, as a series of "image spheres" at locations all around the cemetery paths. I don't know how you link to a specific place in Google StreetView, so I won't add the link here, but I do recommend looking it up. 

Neoclassical tower

Near the cemetery was this rather large and fancy Neoclassical building - I didn't catch what it actually was, as I was walking within the cemetery walls, not without, and didn't actually walk past the exterior of whatever it was to see a sign or anything. Whatever it is, it's a very ornate and grand building, and the light on that wintry day caught it beautifully. I looked it up on Google StreetView, and it looks like a concert hall or theatre. 

Church tower, one of a pair

I liked this church, but it was hard to get a god photograph of it because there is a bus stop right in front of it. It is on Panmore Street and has two of these towers and a charming rose window. I thought I'd take one of its 'witches' hat' roofed spire. I love the vents - possibly to help the sound of bells escape. 

McManus Galleries

I had a walk around the McManus Galleries - an amazing Gothic Revival building. I didn't get to go inside them as they were shut, but I took several photographs of the exterior. I would love to do a photo-shoot on the fabulous steps - I wonder if that could be arranged! I also think the steps - in Baroque swirling design - work really well with this otherwise very Gothic design. It's an altogether fabulous, magical-looking building... 

Steeple under rainy skies

This is the steeple on a rather interesting building. In the centre of Dundee is a building that, at first glance, would look like a cathedral. It is huge, old, and Gothic and very definitely the size and shape of the average cathedral. However, it is not a single-purpose building. It has been subdivided, and done so historically. There is the steeple, shown above, which I think is a municipally run clock tower, and at least two churches and a youth group using the rest of the building, with the spaces subdivided for these uses. Apparently subdividing the building became a necessity centuries ago, as there have been several serious fires in the building. The history of the site is very long with the earliest church on the site being from 1192 - a time-line of history of the building can be read ::here::. It's currently surrounded by a shopping mall!

The observant will have noticed that some of the photographs -specifically the ones of  buildings and monuments - are watermarked 'Architecturally Gothic'. This is one of the two Tumblr accounts I run. ::Architecturally Gothic:: is  my architectural photography Tumblr. It's mostly my own work, but I reblog a lot of other people's architectural photography too. 


  1. Thanks for that post. Really enjoyed that. Living not too far away from Dundee I tend to drive through or round it a few times a year but never actually stop and walk around. I need to do that some time. That made me think of a concept.... What would be the best place in Scotland to hold a Gothic weekend ( Whitby-ish ). Thinking of Architecture, history, significant past figures etc?

    1. There are a good few castles-for-hire in Scotland, but I would suggest Aldourie Castle if you want to have the whole ball-gowns-and-fancy-clothes sort of event, as it's a) a fairy-tale style castle on the banks of Loch Ness (which is famed, of course, for its monster), and is also not too far away from the burnt-out remains of Boleskine House, which is where Aleister Crowley lived for a while (I'm a member of a group that is looking to raise funds to restore it, but right now it is mostly destroyed). It's also across the water from the ruins of Urquhart Castle. If you arranged some sort of agreement with Jacobite Cruises, who run the boat tours of the Loch, you might even get them to do special monster/spooky/historical tours!It also has views that are utterly magnificent. It's proper fantasy-novel country out there, and the inspiration for a lot of the scenery in 'Brave'. Dingwall is a real place nearby :P

      Edinburgh has a LOT of glorious architecture and spooky history, and also a lot of venues (including some in magnificent Gothic and Gothic Revival buildings), and might be better in terms of holding an event that is more musically based. The only thing is that unless you held it in something like ultra-modern EICC, it would be all spread out between venues, and Edinburgh in tourist season is pretty packed, and even with the trams and busses a bit annoying to get around.

      Another option would be near Brodie or Cawdor castles, for the Macbeth connection. Cawdor Castle is still a private residence, although it is open for tours, but Brodie Castle is owned by the National Trust, and can be hired. They already run a large country fayre there, and both accommodation and venue hire are options according to the website, plus it's near the hill the 'three witches' are supposed to have done their hocus-pocus in Macbeth. It's also not far away from Cawdor Castle itself, and a variety of other interesting historical buildings including the ruins of Rait Castle, and it's 25 miles out from Inverness city, and about 8 miles out from the town of Nairn. It's quite the visitor attraction already, so there's a good infrastructure in the general area of B&Bs, hotels, campsites, etc.

      I've written about Urquhart Castle, Rait Castle and Cawdor castle on this blog already (and will be writing about Cawdor again as I visited it again recently). Rait castle is supposed to be haunted.

  2. The cemetery you mention sounds interesting. As for the trees, your description of them makes me think of a haunted cemetery where such a ghastly evil exists that the trees grow deformed.

    When I have some extra time I'll definitely take the virtual tour. Thank you, HouseCat!

    1. Perhaps being next to a newspaper printers caused the ground to be contaminated with whatever they used for ink in Victorian times? The cemetery didn't seem particularly creepy to me, but there again I was more concerned about a precipitously decrepit turret falling off the building than any spirits.

  3. I am always fascinated by the small variations and style differences of architectures depending on cities regions and even countries. Particularly when it comes to both the North and south of England.

    1. I've started to spot them between cities in Scotland. Some of it is obvious; Inverness is built mostly of pink sandstone with yellow sandstone for the finer masonry as I think it is a tad harder and keeps a crisper shape, and Aberdeen is built of granite, for example... but then there are other differences. Inverness had trade with the low countries, so there are more Flemmish influences (eg. our town hall ('town house') is of a Gothic Revival style that incorporates both Flemmish Gothic and Scottish Baronial, and being one of the few buildings in the hybrid 'Flemmish Baronial' style. Edinburgh and Dundee, at least in their older buildings, are quite similar - and they are geographically quite close - but Perth is nearby, and has different architecture, perhaps because more of it is in the valley basin, whereas much of Edinburgh and Dundee are built on hills.

      When it comes to styles that are revivals of earlier styles (Neoclassical, Gothic Revival), there tends to be more local variation in material than form, sandstone and flint, or flint-and-brick for Gothic Revival churches in Berkshire, solid granite for them in Aberdeen, copper roofs in Bristol, and slate roofs in the Highlands, etc.

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