The "Family" Castle
Once upon a time in Scotland Carol and I visited Caerlaverock, the "Family" castle, seat of the Maxwells, near Dumfries.  For me it was an odd experience, one of the the few times I've ever felt in tune with a place.  Even though the place was in ruins, all the roofs fallen in centuries ago, just being there caused me to feel as though I'd come home somehow.  Well, that's probably overstating it--but I really did feel a sort of heightened sensibility that day.

    It came about because a few days earlier, after getting off a train in Edinburgh, we stopped at a tourist information office to find a place to stay and found that the woman there was a Maxwell.  I said something about what a coincidence it was that the first person I'd spoken with in Scotland had the same name. But she wasn't impressed at all. She said she thought it was funny how so many Americans came to Scotland looking for their family roots--said that Scots didn't care about such things at all. She made it clear that she wasn't really a Maxwell--just had married one. But she pointed us to a comfortable and inexpensive B&B anyway.

    Later that day we stopped into a bookstore and, while I was leafing through a guide book on the country, it fell open to a description of Caerlaverock, and I learned for the first time that there really was a Maxwell castle, just as my mother had told me once when I was a small child. Not only that, but it was a triangular castle, one of the few ever built.

    So of course we had to go have a look.  Took a cross-country bus to Dumfries, an old city bus out to the end of the line, and then a taxi on to the castle.

    Here are photos of what we found there.  (It will take a while for the full pictures to arrive, but you should see low resolution images right away.)

    In 1992 my Auntie Marne found an article about the Maxwells in The Highlander, a periodical for people who dote on things Scottish. There's a map showing the location of Caerlaverock and also the Maxwelton House, where "Bonnie Annie Laurie" dwelt. There's also a photo of the castle. The narrative about the Maxwells and the castle might interest you, too.

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