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Photograph: Urquhart Castle. The Keep
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Title: Photograph: Urquhart Castle. The Keep
Identifier: 2001.5.30
Donor: Geoffrey Sayers
Item Date: 1870-1876
Creation Date: 2011
Location: Benares Historic House

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Description: A black and white photograph titled “Urquhart Castle. The Keep. 1399. J,V.” It depicts the ruins of a stone tower at the edge of a cliff. Under the cliff is a lake. Behind the tower at the other end of the lake are two large hills.

Urquhart Castle is located 2 miles from Drumnadrochit on a rocky peninsula on the banks of Loch Ness. The history of settlement on the site likely dates back to the 6th century though evidence of a castle on the site does not appear until the 13th century. The castle one of the largest strongholds of medieval Scotland. It was blown up in 1692 to prevent it from becoming a Jacobite stronghold and was never repaired. The castle was inhabited by various families though it was never used by the Urquhart family despite its name. The castle was purchased by a private citizen in the 1930’s and gifted to the National Trust for Scotland in 2003. It is run by Historic Scotland and is one of Scotland’s most popular castles for tourist visits. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Urquhart

This print was likely produced by Valentines of Dundee (J.V). Valentines of Dundee was a well-known photographic company which produced Scottish topographical views from the 1860s, and later became internationally famous as the producers of picture postcards. They were founded in 1851 by James Valentine (1815-1879). He added portrait photography to the activities of his established Dundee business, which had been based up to 1851 on the engraving, printing and supply of business stationery. About 1860 he decided to emulate the success of George Washington Wilson in Aberdeen in selling topographical view photographs. In 1866 James Valentine carried out his first Royal commission and received the Royal warrant in 1867. Valentine’s target market in the nineteenth century was middle and upper class tourists. Valentine produced both drawing room albums containing selections of photographs arranged geographically and individual landscape prints. Stereoscopic views were also produced. Subjects concentrated on the genteel tourist sights and places in Scotland, then to England in 1882 and on to fashionable resorts abroad, including Norway, Jamaica, Tangiers, Morocco, Madeira and New Zealand before 1900. Under the leadership of James’ son William the company rapidly expanded in 1898 when in started publishing picture postcards. It closed for business in the 1970’s. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/features/03021901.html

Traveler’s in the 1870’s could not take their own photographs, so professional photographers would create albums with photos like these and sell them to travelers to commemorate their journey. In 1871 Elizabeth (Bessie) and Annie Harris (daughters of James Beveridge and Elizabeth) traveled to Europe to do a tour of Scotland, Ireland and England. In 1876, Lucy and Arthur Harris traveled to Scotland to visit their aunts in Perthshire. James Beveridge Harris’s sisters, Margaret Patton and Matilda Lindsay, both lived at Rose Terrace, Perth, with their cousin Margaret Anne Patton in the 1870s and 1880s. These photos could have come from any of those trips or have been sent by the Aunts, to the family at Benares.
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