Things I Stole From Castles

Earthen floor at Drum Castle: things I stole from castles

A Stolen Floor

That’s the earthen floor of the medieval great hall at Drum Castle.

I love it.

So I took it!


Bessie had shown me the great hall, a huge room that put one in mind of a church. Sunlight fell through twelve windows, making narrow shapes on the earthen floor of that place…

I did rather fill up my writer’s swag bag at Drum.

Below is a beautiful bedpost…

oaken leaves on a bedpost at Drum: things I stole from castles

Chapter 34:

“It’s beautiful, Thomas,” I said, walking into the room and running my hands up and down the dark smooth wood of the bedposts which were swirled with infinite oak leaves.

I don’t have a good picture of the dungeon there, though I pilfered that too. It’s a terrible place with a narrow stairway leading down, down, down into the dank. However, bats were roosting in it the last couple of times I visited the castle, and they’re a protected species so it was absolutely forbidden to disturb them. Which was quite a relief really…

Here is a pictorial quote from the book:

castle dungeon quote

And into the swagbag goes…

A forest view from a high window at Crathes Castle

forest view from Crathes Castle window: things I stole from castles

From Chapter 38:

I sat up on my seat by the three thin windows and watched the first golden shafts of morning light creep over the tops of the trees in the forest.

A Secret Stairway

From beautiful Craigievar I took the secret stairway that runs from top to bottom of the castle, strictly no photos allowed inside…

Craigievar Castle: things I stole from castles

From Chapter 28:

We were in another passage, small and stony and grey, and after a short way it led to a narrow stairwell that was not lit by torches and sconces like the big one, but dark and shadowy and hidden. Secret. Indeed safe. For now.

The Laird’s Lug

Castle Fraser gave me its triangular peep-hole and ‘Laird’s Lug’.

Castle Fraser: things I stole from castles

From Chapter 28:

I told the Laird, and he took his turn at the peephole and gave the scene a long assessing look. “It is a pity there is so much noise tonight; we could have made out their words otherwise, the walls of the lug are thinned in places and shaped to augment speech made in the hall.”

I think that’s enough of my rampant thievery for one post – there may be others – so I’ll leave you with this review of the book from Terry Tyler, a brilliant writer herself. Actually – I can’t help myself – I’ll just steal a quote from that too:

Ailish Sinclair’s portrayal of 16th century, wild rural Scotland is quite magical.  On one recent evening I was curled up in bed, head on cushions and lights dimmed, and I found that I was revelling in every description of the countryside, the day-to-day life at the castle (particularly the Christmas revellry; this made me long to be in the book myself!), the suggestion of ancient spirituality, and the hopes and dreams of the characters.  Suddenly I realised that I’d gone from thinking ‘yes, this is a pleasant enough, easy-read’ to ‘I’m loving this’.  

And here’s a wee picture of my author copies, or castle swag bags, if you will. Buy your own here on Amazon in paperback or on Kindle.

author copies

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Contemporary Fiction

Book covers of A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair: celebratory dance.

Scotland’s all misty lochs and magical forests and perfect boyfriends, right?

When dance student Amalphia Treadwell embarks on a secret relationship with her charismatic new teacher, she has no idea of the danger that lurks in his school in Scotland…

My dance background and love of history and spicy stories are what inspired this heady mix of contemporary romance and ballet set in a castle. Readers of my historical fiction will recognise the castle and stone circle that feature in these books.

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

There are no cliffhanger endings in this series; each book completes a story, but then there is more. So much more. Read all the blurbs here

Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction by Ailish Sinclair

These novels combine little-known dark events with love stories and a hint of magic.

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide


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71 Replies to “Things I Stole From Castles”

  1. Congratulations! It’s always exciting to get those first copies in your hands. I wish you well with the sales. Thanks for the reminder of the many ways we authors can “steal” items from our research sites. (And all legally!)

  2. I got my MLitt of Ethnology and Folklore from Aberdeen too many years ago. I live in the States, but every time I see your photos its like going home again. Love your work!

  3. wow, some amazing pilfering going on here and good job too, it’s great to see a writer’s imagination at work. I’m off to amazon to order my copy. xxx

  4. It’s hardly surprising that you pinch these things for your books – castles are so inspiring! Well done for selective stealing, and congratulations on The Mermaid and the Bear. It looks wonderful.
    Funnily enough, I literally steal bits of castles – I collect bits of fallen masonry as souvenirs. I’ve got a small chunk of Kenilworth Castle, Dunstanburgh and Richard III’s castle at Middleham in Yorkshire. They’re my little bits of medieval history, my pieces of the amazing kings and nobles who built, visited and lived in them. And I love them all. 🙂

      1. It is – and I promise I’d only ever take small pieces of fallen masonry that I find on the ground. And it does make for a great collection. 🙂

  5. I love the concept of a laird’s lug. We have one in Edinburgh castle too but it’s a kings lug. As a child if we listened behind a door we described it as lugging in.

  6. Always such fun to receive that first box of author copies! A wonderful review. I’m enjoying it as well, but I’ve been waylaid from reading by writing for NaNoWriMo this month. Still, I’m managing a few stolen minutes here or there to sneak away into your story world. Looking forward to reading more.
    Such a fun post! Now I’ll be on the look out for the snippets you’ve shared.

  7. Allow me one giant SIIIIIIIIIGH
    As much as I do love the US and my new home in the Mid West, I have to admit that the ancestral isles of Western Europe call to me! The pictures and passages you shared made my heart ache a little.
    Sigh again.

  8. Never been to Drum castle, but that inner bailey looks like a small version of the Chateau overlooking Annecy, France. Some great ‘Castle’ inspiration over in France – and lots of historical links with Scotland no doubt.

  9. What a fantastic idea! I may have to become more of a picture-taker so that when I see something that is beautiful or inspires me, I can use these images in my mind for writing.

  10. Well you are supposed to write about what you know, Ailish. 😉 It’s wonderful to find the inspiration you need in the places you visit and the people you meet. Love the photos.

  11. Hi AIlish, I picked up my copy from Waterstones in Ashford, Kent yesterday after they contacted me to come. Look forward to reading it and left a copy of my book with the manager. best Nick

  12. Hi Ailish! Love the photos and love your work. I’ve nominated you for a Sunshine Blogger Award on my latest post if you want to check it out. Hope you’re well 🙂

    1. Well, I don’t write them down at the time. It’s just a humorous way of describing information gathered during research for writing. And it’s fun

  13. You totally just sold me on this book! I love how you write about stolen things from the castle, and how they’re incorporated into the story. This is what we do, when we get the chance to do it!

  14. Oh god, I didn’t realise this was for the book, I thought this was just things you took from castles like “look at this pretty stone I saw” and I was so confused on how you took a whole floor until I read the paragraph example from the book, lot less confused after that.
    Beautiful pictures and beautiful paragraphs/writing!

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