A Tentative Tiptoe Round Duffus Castle

Duffus Castle - Ailish Sinclair, author

Duffus Castle looms, majestic and huge against the skyline as you approach. It’s imposing and impressive… dramatic too…

Duffus Castle silhouetted against the sun

Duffus Castle at Easter

On the day I visited – Easter Sunday – it was busy, really busy, and the air contained a mysterious hint of sulphur. This medieval fortress of the Moray family, one of Scotland’s most beautiful motte and bailey castles, had become a giant playground for the seasonal pastime of ‘egg rolling’.

The castle ramparts

They’re Not Daisies

You see those white bits in the grass in the photo above that look like daisies? Not daisies. Everywhere, the ground was strewn with smashed boiled eggs, as people, both old and young, hurled them with great gusto from the top of the ramparts.

I recall rolling eggs sedately down a gentle slope on Easter Sunday when I was a child. Then, once your egg was cracked, you peeled and ate it, despite the fact that the colour from your decorating efforts had soaked through the porous shell and onto the egg white.

No one was eating their eggs at Duffus Castle. The goal was definitely to throw them as far as possible. A bit like shot put. Or the Scottish sport of tossing the caber. And you know what? It wasn’t entirely unfitting. There was something medieval and combative about it. Risk was in the air and on the ground; you could be hit by, or step on, an eggy missile at any moment.

View of Duffus Castle from the moat

Down on the Moat Path

It was quieter on the moat-side walk, though one or two eggs had somehow found their way down there too. The path offered some of the prettiest views of the castle and the remains of its walls.

wall at Duffus Castle - Ailish Sinclair, author

I tiptoed round shells, yolks and egg whites, inside the old keep too.

The interior of the old keep - Ailish Sinclair, author

The Privy Chamber

As I look at the photo of the fallen privy chamber below, I am actually still thinking about the eggs. Who cleans them all up? There were large mounds of them, warming in the sun, at the foot of the ramparts. I imagine the circling seagulls swoop down and help themselves once the crowds have gone. But some poor person, presumably a member of Historic Scotland‘s staff, must be stuck with the task of clearing it all away properly? I hope they get given a large Easter egg to make up for it. Or perhaps a chocolate bunny would be less galling…

fallen privy chamber


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Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair. "Ethereal and spellbinding..." says The Historical Novel Society

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See the press release here

Read the article New Novel Highlights Roman History in North East from Grampian Online.


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See the press release here

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See the publisher’s Press Release here

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