Bangour Village Hospital was a psychiatric hospital located west of Dechmont in West Lothian, Scotland. It was officially opened in October 1906 (under the name Edinburgh District Asylum), over two years after the first patients were admitted in June 1904. In 1918 Bangour General Hospital was created in the grounds, but the hospital began winding down in 1989 with services being transferred to the newly built St. John’s Hospital in the Howden area of Livingston. The final ward at Bangour eventually closed in 2004.
One of the villas towards the south east corner of the site carries graffiti applied in red paint: “MY MUM PUT ME HERE!” What makes this so chilling is the knowledge that for a century this vast complex of buildings served as a mental hospital, and you cannot help but wonder about the human story behind the graffiti: and then realise that it was just one of many thousands of individual human stories that would have been played out here during the hospital’s active life.
A villa in a mental hospital? In 1902 the Edinburgh District Lunacy Board purchased the 960 acre Bangour Estate. The aim was to build what for Scotland would be a new kind of mental hospital based on the “Continental Colony” system.
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Dunnottar Castle is a romantic, evocative and historically significant ruined Castle, perched on a giant conglomorate on the edge of the North-Sea. Once seen – never forgotten. The medieval fortress is located upon a rocky headland on the north-east coast of Scotland, about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) south of Stonehaven. The surviving buildings are largely of the 15th and 16th centuries, but the site is believed to have been fortified in the Early Middle Ages.
Dunnottar has played a prominent role in the history of Scotland through to the 18th-century Jacobite risings because of its strategic location and defensive strength. Dunnottar is best known as the place where the Honours of Scotland, the Scottish crown jewels, were hidden from Oliver Cromwell’s invading army in the 17th century. The property of the Keiths from the 14th century, and the seat of the Earl Marischal, Dunnottar declined after the last Earl forfeited his titles by taking part in the Jacobite rebellion of 1715. The castle was restored in the 20th century and is now open to the public.
William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II have graced the Castle with their presence. Most famously though, it was at Dunnottar Castle that a small garrison held out against the might of Cromwell’s army for eight months and saved the Scottish Crown Jewels, the ‘Honours of Scotland’, from destruction.
Summer (April 1st – September 30th)
09:00 – 18:00
Winter (October 1st – March 31st)
10:00 – 17:00 or half an hour before sunset, whichever is sooner
The Falkirk Wheel is a huge, rotating boat lift, operational since 2002. It forms a crucial part of the Millennium Link project that reconnected Edinburgh and Glasgow by canal, a means of transformation that had been allowed to slowly decay since the 1930s. The Union Canal runs from Scotland’s capital to the Wheel where it meets up with the Forth & Clyde Canal, continuing through to the country’s biggest city. Boats simple sail into the impressive apparatus and are lifted, or lowered, 24 metres from one canal to the other – although there are some locks involved too.
It’s a remarkable piece of contemporary engineering and an attraction in its own right with a visitor centre, café and boat trips that lets you fly gently through the air while afloat. The Wheel is just to the west of Falkirk but if you get the ScotRail train from Edinburgh Waverley or Haymarket to Falkirk High (25 minutes), you can walk there along the Union Canal towpath that passes immediately south of the station. Station platform to Wheel is 3.5km.
A stone’s throw from the Falkirk Wheel is Helix Park, home to the Kelpies: two monumental sculptures depicting the heads of mythical water horses, each nearly 30 metres high, built of steel.
They are enormous, glittering, utterly magnificent and new – only open to the public since spring 2014.
The main reason people come to Linlithgow is to see the striking ruins of its royal residence. The birthplace of both James V and his daughter Mary, Queen of Scots, Linlithgow Palace echoes with the history of the Stewart dynasty that ruled Scotland from 1371.
It sits on the shore of the town’s small loch, right next to St Michael’s Church with its distinctive modern steeple. There has been some form of royal palace here since the 12th century although the current structure developed in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its heyday as a favourite residence for the Stewart came to an end when James VI became King of Great Britain in1603 and skedaddled off to London with his court. The building fell into disrepair over the next hundred years or so, and a fire finally put the old place out of its misery in 1746.
Atmospheric and resonant, it’s now cared for by Historic Scotland and, if you catch it on a fine day, its red sandstone comes alive in the sunlight.
The High Street is where to find places to eat and drink, or you can head away from the town to sit by the Union Canal. If you feel like a saunter along the towpath, ScotRail trains from Edinburgh Waverley or Haymarket to Linlithgow take around 20 minutes.