What’s Oot Ma Windae?

Friends of Scottish Civic Trust, lovers of the built environment and folk self-isolating throughout Scotland:

Spending a little more time indoors these days? In search of an interesting way to pass the time? Finding yourself looking ever-longingly out the windows of your home?

We give you our new social media challenge #WhatsOotMaWindae! It’s simple:

  • We share the view from our windows / area as we work from home
  • You send us photos of the view from your windows at home / from around your area – use the hashtag #WhatsOotMaWindae and tag us @scotcivictrust
  • We’ll provide a little chat about what you’re seeing or you share a bit with us about your area!

This way, we can still connect with our built heritage community & beyond during this difficult period of self-isolation and social distancing. We’ll be updating this post regularly and linking to our social media, so follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date.

UPDATE: We’re so excited with the responses we’ve been getting, and we’re doing our best to respond to as many as possible, as quickly as possible. At our current capacity, we’ll write longer entries for 1-2 shots a day. Thanks for your understanding! 

#WhatsOotMaWindae 14: Blairfindy Castle

A cracking (in more ways than one!) 15th-16th century ruinous tower house, completed by John Gordon in 1564. The castle then passed to the Earls of Huntly in 1586 and thereafter was used as a hunting seat. In 1746, following the Battle of Culloden, Cumberlands troops destroyed the ‘house of Blairfindy’, likely referring to the destruction of Blairfindy Castle. The castle has remained ruined and unoccupied since then. Remnants of the lovely wee corner turret remain along with the imposing chimney stack in the centre of the picture. An interesting feature is the box machicolation which projects from the wall above the entrance (not seen from this angle, but can be seen in this shot). Machicolations are an architectural feature found on the top of defensive walls of medieval castles. They are openings in the wall that defenders could use to drop things like boulders, hot oil or boiling water onto attackers. Defenders could also shoot arrows through these openings. The word machicolation comes from the Middle French macher (to crush) + col (neck). However, Canmore notes that the machicolation box on Blairfindy Castle was likely added for aesthetic purposes, to give a ‘warlike appearance to what was essentially a residential building.’

#WhatsOotMaWindae 13: Stirling Castle Walk B&B

Now this is some entrance into a B & B – through the actual historic Stirling Town Wall! Mad! (but brilliant). This wall is a Scheduled Monument and dates from the 16C. The walls were built In 1547, a time during the reign of King Henry VIII when the Royal Court at Stirling was continually under attack. The wall was built for defence and had gates which allowed passage in and out of the town. The wall is mainly of rubble construction (meaning the stones are undressed and not uniform in size) made with lovely lime mortar and looks stunning; lime mortar is crucial to its construction and longevity as this material is sacrificial (mortar is softer than than the stone, so if the wall gets wet water will drain through the mortar. This means that the mortar will break down over time, but in doing so saves the stone. The mortar can be then repointed every few years). Lime mortar also allows for flexibility and movement. We can see good regular maintenance of the mortar here – there is no reason why these hulking walls won’t survive for several hundred more years!

#WhatsOotMaWindae 12: Teampull na Trionaid & Feith na Fala (North Uist)

A cracking view from North Uist for What’s Oot Ma Windae! The structure we can see in the distance of this shot is Teampull na Trionaid, or the Church of the Holy Trinity, said to have origins from the 12th century. The site went through several iterations right up to the 19th century, including functioning as a monastery. The west end of the church is the best remaining feature with walls up to 1m thick!  This impressive structure lies adjacent to a field called ‘Feith na Fala’. Although this field looks sleepy and picturesque today, Feith na Fala means ‘Ditch of Blood’, in memory of the Battle of Carinish. The Battle of Carinish took place on this site in 1601 between the feuding MacLeod and MacDonald clans. It is said to have been the last battle fought in Scotland using only traditional weapons! You can get up close and personal with the site by checking out this  virtual tour of Teampull na Troinaid.

#WhatsOotMaWindae 11: Callendar Park, Falkirk

This is a great example of 1960s public housing, and notably set in lush surroundings. Callendar Park is a large 18th and 19th century park space, with history dating back to the Antonine Wall in 142 AD. As pictured here, there are five high rise tower blocks set within the park. Some blocks are known to have been built with shops at the first storey level! These blocks are an example of the modernist trend of building in mature landscapes.  This housing development is similar to other sites in Britain such as the Alton Estate in Roehampton in Southwest London. The Alton Estate is a housing development built on Victorian gardens. The architects retained trees from the gardens and set the estate amongst picturesque landscaping.

#WhatsOotMaWindae 10: Stonehaven

The primary building material in Stonehaven is granite, as is the case for the neighbouring city of Aberdeen (known as the Granite City). Granite is a popular building material in these parts due to its abundant local supply. Granite is a tough, unyielding material that can be difficult to quarry and carve, but is favoured as a building material for being strong and durable. Aberdeen granite has even been used in the construction of the Houses of Parliament and the Waterloo Bridge in London. In this shot here, we have a lovely granite rubble wall (meaning the stones are undressed and not uniform in size) with a side chimney stack and two ‘dinky dormers’ saying hello at the rear. Dormer windows are windows positioned in the slope of a roof and are ideal for maximising space by creating ‘rooms in the roof’. We’re also loving the wee finial at the front of this house!

#WhatsOotMaWindae 9: Edinburgh

We’re really taken by the mix of architectural features we can see on the immediately visible building. On the slate roofs we have a box dormer and a couple of hipped dormers. Hipped dormers have three or more sloped roof sections that come together in a peak, as opposed to a gable dormer (which has two sloped roof sections meeting at a top ridge, forming a triangular shape) or a box dormer (which is box-shaped, with a flat roof). One of the hipped dormers has delightful slate ‘cheeks’, meaning that the sides of the dormer are covered in slate, like the roof. We also have what would have been originally cast iron roof lights. All of these different windows have enabled attic rooms to become living spaces by introducing more natural light. Interestingly, on the elevation, we also see a ‘blind window’ (a window that has been blocked up) which may conceal structural timbers if this is an earlier build, or has been done simply to maintain consistency of the facade. This blind window would not be a case of ‘window tax’ concealment. This is a great view that just keeps on giving!

#WhatsOotMaWindae 8: Clarkston (Glasgow)

This popular suburb of Glasgow grew rapidly when the railway arrived in the 19th century,  followed by the tram network in the 20th century. This resulted in the construction of a variety of residential homes, such as these very lovely dormer bungalows with incredible pyramid hipped style roofs (such an interesting architectural mix!).  Dwellings like these really utilised their outdoor space as green space was seen as vital in a lot of early 20th century construction. As people moved to get away from crowded city centres and spread out in the suburbs, gardens became commonplace, particularly after WWI & II. Thanks for sending in this great shot – and framed by a beautiful rainbow!

#WhatsOotMaWindae 7: Newington (Edinburgh)

With a bit of a similar look to #WhatsOotMaWindae 3 (below), here we have some great blonde sandstone tenements in the popular area of Newington, Edinburgh. Newington really took off from the 1820s onward, with a mix of villas and tenements being built. We can definitely see some original cast iron pipeworks and what appears to be some original timber windows, though hard to discern from here! There are also some rear boundary walls that marked out private plots of land and the communal part of the backspace. Note all of the chimneys in this shot! There are some interesting rear elevation chimney stacks – these are called wallhead chimneys. Wallhead chimneys are built on top of the front and back walls of a tenement. They normally carry flues from bedrooms. They had to be tall so the tops were above ridge height (the tallest point of the roof) where the airflow was strong enough to allow the chimney to draw. There are also some chimneys adjoining the tenements – these are called mutual chimneys. They are built on top of the gable wall and carry flues from the neighbouring tenement as well as from your own.

#WhatsOotMaWindae 6: Bannockburn

Here we have a beautiful range of 2-storey workers cottages, all B-listed and were constructed in both the 18th & 19th century. Some still present the original three-window pattern with lovely ridge roofs. These houses have been beautifully restored with great attention (and respect) to historic details. Note the stunning archway which would have allowed vehicular access, primarily carts and agricultural, to the rear of the properties where outbuildings would have stood (and hopefully still do!). It’s also lovely the way these buildings follow the natural topography in both stepped fashion and curving the roadway. A great view!

#WhatsOotMaWindae 5: Wallace Monument

One of our followers is spoiled with this incredible view of the National Wallace Monument! The National Wallace Monument was designed by the Edinburgh-born Glasgow architect J. T. Rochead, and built between 1861 and 1869.  Did you know that you can climb all the way to the top (a total of 246 steps!) for panoramic views over the area? From the top, you can see Ben Lomond and the Trossachs in the West, and through the Forth Valley past the city of Stirling and the Ochil Hills to the Pentland Hills in the East. Well worth a visit once we’re all out and about again! It is one of more than 20 Wallace Monuments which are located throughout Scotland, including the Wallace Monument at Dryburgh (1814) and Thomas Hamilton’s Wallace tower in Ayr (1833).

#WhatsOotMaWindae 4: Avoch (Black Isle)

Another follower submission – a beautiful wee cottage! Built circa 19th century, this dwelling would likely have been originally harled due to its coastal location. Harling is a type of rough-textured exterior wall finish that helps make walls more weatherproof.  This wee cottage was also possibly housing for the once thriving, local fishing trade. Stone copings are still evident running down from the chimney stack along with a wonderful slate roof. The dinky dormer is just too cute! Did you know that these houses usually run at right angles to the shore, with the gable end facing the incoming weather from the beach? This was done so that the strong gable end would take the brunt of the harsh coastal weather, protecting more fragile parts of the house, like the roof. This would be especially important if roofs were thatched (made from straw or reeds).

#WhatsOotMaWindae 3: Back green (location unknown)

Thanks to another lovely Twitter follower for sending in this shot. A lovely range of blonde sandstone tenements here with some beautiful, original cast iron downpipes still in situ, which is great to see! And such a green, lush back garden! Before tenements had internal bathrooms, communal loo and washing facilities were often in the back gardens along with shared drying greens. A lot of these original cast iron drying poles still exist. This outdoor space also allowed for recreation and social gathering. Perhaps nowadays a good space for some brief solo exercise and social distancing instead?

#WhatsOotMaWindae 2: Willowbrae (Edinburgh)

A special shoutout to one of our Facebook followers for sending in this shot oot their windae in Willowbrae, Edinburgh. What a beautiful pair of semi-detached Victorian houses! Dwellings such as these sprung up outside Edinburgh in the late 19th/early 20th century, as wealthier folk wanting to escape the grime of the city moved to newly emerging suburbs.  The semi-detached house design popped up as a compromise between the terraced houses in the crowded city centre and the detached villas further out in the countryside, where land was cheaper. By living in the suburbs, people could have access to a bit of green space and clean air, while also remaining closer to the city. The lovely dwellings pictured here have loads of yummy details such as the finials atop the front gables, beautiful detailed ridge tiles on the roof (the reddish tiles sticking up atop the roof) and chamfered upper windows (the chamfer detail can be seen on the nearest pair of houses above the upper corner windows). The Victorians loved their details! As you can see on these Victorian dwellings, bay windows and fronted gables with a three-part window style were very common. Bay windows were favoured because they let in more light than windows that are flush with the wall line.

#WhatsOotMaWindae 1: Dennistoun (Glasgow)

As the city of Glasgow spread east in industrial times, Alexander Dennistoun employed the famous Glasgow architect, James Salmon in 1854  (who designed such iconic Glasgow landmarks as the ‘Hatrack’ and the Lion Chambers) to masterplan the new elegant suburb of Dennistoun. Terraces of fine villas sprang up and as the city grew, both red and blond sandstone tenements were constructed from the 1870s onward. These fine red sandstone tenements date from the turn of the century, approx. 1906 and though no original windows remain, they are still very, very lovely! Though plain to the eye, there are wonderful hood mould window details and stunning ashlar facades.

(#WhatsOotMaWindae research provided by the lovely Jamie McNamara, our My Place Mentoring Senior Project Officer)