Castle Ruins in Pencil


More than a little out of context on this page featuring castle ruins, but this 30" X 20" drawing from days gone by was what ignited my idea for the stones collection. Uncompleted by choice, this large-scale piece remains my crowning acheivement in the medium.

Ruins of castle Kilchurn, Scotland

Kilchurn Castle

Dalmally, Scotland

A 15th century ruin in a staggeringly picturesque setting on a rocky peninsula at the north eastern end of Scotland's Loch Awe. Kilchurn was the first of several castles constructed by powerful Clan Campbell.

I first saw this magnificent ruin in 2011 en route to a ferry reservation and had no time to explore. I knew I'd be back some day to give it the attention it deserved. This drawing was the first of this series.

Dunmore Castle

Co. Galway, Ireland

The first interior of this series, Dunmore appears somehow both crumbled yet solid. A singular very wide-based tower, this ruin has a powerful presence as a fortress while offering little in terms of interior detail. Though it offers no rooms and the floors and roof as completely gone it's a great piece of history to behold.

Rupea Citadel

Rupea, Romania

This awesome Transylvanian ruin is one of Romania's oldest archaeological sites, dating from the Paleolithic and early Neolithic eras.

I saw this in 2009 on a Dracula tour as our bus blew by it. Fortunately its completely unobstructed from the highway, all aboard were glued to the windows taking pictures. It took me months to track the possible routes we had been on using Google Earth before I was able to locate it. A less restrictive return to Rupea in on my bucket list.

Château Féodal de La Roche-en-Ardenne

La Roche-en-Ardenne, Belgium

The contrast of this amazing structure, which dates back to the 11th century, and more modern the village constructed around it is an awesome sight as you approach the town. You often have to really keep an eye out to spot ruins, but not with La Roche-en-Ardenne. The castle could not be more prominent.

A great sprawling structure, entry to this ruin is a few Euros and can occupy your time for hours. Rich in history, the ghost of Berthe de La Roche is said to have been seen at the spot where she died.

This spooky, stony stairwell within La Roche-en-Ardennes castle is freely accessible to visitors, leading you into a deep, dank chamber that seems to be exactly what one would expect of a primitive dungeon. My first impression was how such an uneven, tenuous descent would never be open to the public in the U.S. If you ever choose to visit ... watch your step!

An additional image looking up from within the chamber is also on exhibit and can be found with the watercolours.

Castle Nunney

Nunney, England

Upon visiting my brother Ed I asked if there were local ruins to explore. Ed did not disappoint, Nunney is an great find. This interior view is in stark contrast to the castle's opposite side. Upon approaching this ruin it appears largely intact, but like a doll house when you look around back you see just how defunct is really is.

Ed explained to me how this happens, back in the day the popular approach to besieging a castle was to place explosives at its base. If you could crumble one wall the interior was ripe for the taking. This is the reason for moats. They weren't filled with alligators to devour swimming attackers, they made it really hard to light munitions dug into the base!

Dunstaffnage Castle

Oban, Scotland

This 13th century ruin is among Scotland's oldest stone castles and appears to sit atop a great slab of stone. Freely accessible but beware - a ghost, the "Ell-maid of Dunstaffnage", may be watching your every move.

Dunstaffnage is owned by the National Trust for Scotland, open to the public and can be fully explored from the courtyard to the top of the battlements for the cost of a few pounds.

Urquhart Castle

Drumnadrochit, Scotland

A guide running the boat tour of Loch Ness that culminated at Urquhart Castle referred to this ruin as once being the largest castle complex in the northern UK. Most of the remains are just foundations, the tower depicted here is really the center point of the site and from the water appears to extend to the loch's edge. Several of the more well known images of the Loch Ness monster have a ruin in the background, this is it. Also the majority of reported sighting have happened in the bay just to it's north.

Carrigogunnell Castle

Clarina, Ireland

SCA&HC 32nd Annual Juried Show President's Award Winner
Of all the ruins I've visited Carrigogunnell is hands down my favorite. In every sense a totally wild ruin, it appears to be sitting out in a growing field with assertive "keep out" signs. The signs though are warning you off the farmers property, there's a small road that brings you round back of the castle without having to violate the field.

Dating to the 13th century it has a rich history, but what drew me in was its crumbled, organic appearance. This tower has several floors with all but one step having fallen away, leaving room entrances that you can see but not touch. Then the stairs resume, teasing you with a glimpse of a room high above. With this and a multitude of other rooms easily available for exploration, this wonderful ruin both teases and satisfies the imagination.

Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly, Wales

OK, look at the angle of that tower. Whaaaaaat? I became aware of this ruin because of an odd parking spot on the other side of its huge moat reserved for an ice cream truck! What I found was the second largest castle in Europe, how cow. A remarkable structure, I carved out just a couple hours to tour the place, it was not enough. I didn't see it myself, but my wife Anne told me that if you walk the grounds you see a statue at the base of this leaning tour of a person holding it up!

Future Projects

Ruine Pfeffingen

Pfeffingen, Switzerland

Special thanks to my friend Theresa who took us around the local ruins circuit on a visit to Basel. Something I'd never seen before, we were on site of a ruin called Dorneck. From there you could clearly see the ruin of Pfeffingen as well as the third we visited that day, Landskron, in France. Three castles from one vantage point, wow!!

Its origins date back to 1135, but between a few all out attacks, a couple conquerings and an earthquake nothing from the 12th century remains. Much though of its fortification efforts through the centuries is free for exploration. I like the layered foreground, but the flag poles have to go.

Castle Ruins in Pencil