Historical Kitchens in Scotland

So as some of you know I have been traveling around Europe for the past couple of months. During my travels I have come across historical kitchens of all shapes and sizes and covering about four centuries. Since not everyone has a medieval castle just around the corner I thought I might share some of the pictures that I have taken. First up, two very different dwellings from Scotland.

 

Provand’s Lordship is the oldest house in Glasgow. Built in 1471 as part of St. Nicholas’ hospital, it later became the house of the Lord of the Prebend of Barlanark and the furnishings reflect this later 18th century period of occupation. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the main cooking fireplace but you can see a good picture of it on the website here.

 

 

A small fireplace and griddle.

A small fireplace and griddle.

The dining room, with 18th century furnishings.

The dining room, with 18th century furnishings.

An 18th century dresser with pewter and wooden tableware.

An 18th century dresser with pewter and wooden tableware.

The back of Provand's Lordship and part of the herb garden which would have provided medicinal herbs for the hospital across the road.

The back of Provand’s Lordship and part of the herb garden which would have provided medicinal herbs for the hospital across the road.

 

The second lot of pictures comes from the spectacularly positioned Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeenshire. Although the promontory has been in use since Pictish times the majority of the buildings which can be seen today date between the 14th and 17th centuries, including the kitchens which are housed in the lower levels of the Palace. Construction of the palace began in the latter half of the 16th century with a basement level for the kitchens and accommodation and living areas above.

Dunnottar Castle

The kitchens are comprised of a number of rooms, some with specific functions and others probably for storage and preparation. At the far end of the kitchen range is an enormous fireplace which would have been the central focus of the kitchen, used for roasting and boiling. The most striking thing, however, is the gloom. The windows, where they existed, where tiny and although fires would have helped a bit, the effect of the smoke must have been absolutely suffocating!

 

The bread oven at Dunnottar Castle.

The bread oven at Dunnottar Castle.

The entrance of the bread oven at Dunnottar Castle. The fire would be lit inside the oven to heat the surrouding stone, then once the desired temperature was reached the fire would be raked out and the bread quickly put in. The bread cooked thanks to the heat from the stones, and as they cooled a succession of items could be cooked with bread first followed by pies and more delicate items which needed a cooler oven.

The entrance of the bread oven at Dunnottar Castle. The fire would be lit inside the oven to heat the surrouding stone, then once the desired temperature was reached the fire would be raked out and the bread quickly put in. The bread cooked thanks to the heat from the stones, and as they cooled a succession of items could be cooked with bread first followed by pies and more delicate items which needed a cooler oven.

Pit for brewing, I think that a large cauldron would be placed on top of the stone walls and a fire lit underneath. Weak beer was safe to drink and provided a large proportion of the average person's daily calories and nutrients.

Pit for brewing, I think that a large cauldron would be placed on top of the stone walls and a fire lit underneath. Weak beer was safe to drink and provided a large proportion of the average person’s daily calories and nutrients.

Again, possibly ovens?

Ovens? *Probably not ovens, see the comments below. 

The well which provided fresh water for all the residents and workshops inside the castle walls.

The well which provided fresh water for all the residents and workshops inside the castle walls.

 

Apologies for the quality of the pictures, the lighting was not good at all in the cellars! I hope you enjoyed the pictures, there are lots more to come once I get myself organised.

 

Advertisements

2 comments

  1. Hi Sara,

    Thanks for the link, it was a really interesting read. Having had another look at the pictures, I think you’re right that they aren’t ovens, the one on the right in particular is just too small. I’m not sure though that they match the boiling furnaces in your post either.

    Neither of the features has the hourglass silhouette that is shown in the picture from Caernarfon Castle, and if the cavity in the middle is where the fire would go with a basin resting on the lip above, it would be at a very awkward height for the cooks. The one on the right also has a closed top which would make it impossible to put a basin above for boiling. They also don’t have the ground level opening for a fire shown in the other examples, and which is clearly there in the brewing pit from Dunnottar.

    I wonder if they are more like the flat cooking surfaces which you often see in 16th century pictures e.g. http://www.nuernberger-hausbuecher.de/75-Amb-2-317b-61-v or http://www.nuernberger-hausbuecher.de/75-Amb-2-317-142-r. I guess what I’m thinking is that a small fire or hot coals in the cavities would give you a gentle heat, and more control, than cooking on the large hearth which might be useful for cooking more delicate foods or reheating/keeping food warm. Any thoughts?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s