Last weekend I took a walk up to Rait Castle, just a mile or so from my house, to gather some sloes for the winter's sloe gin. The sloes were excellent but it was depressing to see the continuing state of the castle.
Rait is the best surviving example of a 13th century 'Hall Castle'. It boasts elegant window tracery carved from single pieces of sandstone (right), its tower still has a perfect domed ceiling (below).
And yet this castle stands neglected. The old courtyard is swamped by blackthorn and trees grow out of the wall-heads, their roots boring into the 800 year old mortar.
For several years now, I have been trying to arrange for Rait Castle to be restored, not for habitation nor for a visitor centre, but just to stop it deteriorating further. At one stage in April 2005 we managed to make a start on clearing the scrub but then there was a confusion about ownership and work stopped. Now we appear to be back to Square One and, along with some others, I am therefore relaunching the campaign to have the castle restored and the courtyard cleared. Watch this space!