Tilquhillie Castle, Aberdeenshire. H. W. Brewer [?]. c. 1880. The initials “WB appear lower left but are followed by “sc,” so either Brewer also did the wood engraving or the the engraver had similar initials. Source: Stevenson’s House Architecture, I, 352. Click on image to enlarge it

Commentary by J. J. Stevenson

In French architecture, gables, as we have seen, were superseded by slated roofs. But in Scotland a strong preference was always shown for them. Even when (as in Tilquhillie Castle) the angles are rounded for defence, they are corbelled out to the square at the top to allow their being roofed with a gable.

The gables with eaves projected over the face of the wall, to defend them from the wet, a special characteristic of wooden construction, were almost unknown in Scotland. The country was being perpetually harried and burnt, generally by the Scotch themselves, as a means of defence. Bruce's advice was, not to give battle to the English invaders, but to burn the country before them, so as to starve them out. The houses therefore were built of stones without lirne, and a thatched roof, like highland cottages now, and burning them was little loss. The towers of the gentry, being built for defence, were stronger, but they were constructed so that, when burnt, little harm was done, the floors, resting on corbels independent of the wall, being easily replaced, and the roofs being sometimes of solid stone, which would not burn. Ecclesiastical buildings were considered sacred from, such destruction, and though they were not always safe from the wild fury of the times, they were made as splendid as the poverty of the country could afford.

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Stevenson, J. J. House Architecture. 2 vols. London: Macmillan, 1880.

Last modified 17 July 2017