Nottingham, England

It’s easy to imagine how Nottingham may have looked in the middle ages. The narrow, winding streets and bustling center of the city surrounding the castle follow much the same design as they were hundreds of years ago., when Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham were in their prime. But I’ll get to them later.

Nottingham Castle entrance, 2014. c. Leah Putz

Nottingham Castle gardens, 2014. c. Leah Putz

In the center of Nottingham, perched on a hill, sits Nottingham Castle. Since its construction in 1067, the castle has served an important role in English history, especially in the middle ages when it was a royal fortress and residence. It was famously occupied by Prince John supporters like the Sheriff of Nottingham while his brother King Richard was fighting in the crusades. In fact, Robin and the Sheriff had their final showdown at the castle in the legend of Robin Hood. Today, the castle functions as a museum and art gallery, specializing in relics from Nottingham’s history.

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Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem facade, 2014. c. Leah Putz

Neighboring Nottingham castle is one of the oldest inns in England- Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem! This quaint, adorable inn and pub was established in 1189 according to the words on the facade of the building. The small, low-ceilinged interior definitely gives the impression of an aged space, so it’s not hard to believe the claim is true and the inn is in fact almost 1000 years old. Built into the caves beneath Nottingham Castle, the inn has a rich history, having been a common stop for pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem (hence the name). The inn’s pub offers delicious meal options in the way of classic English dishes such as beef and ale pie, fish and chips, and sausage and mash.

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Traditional English meal in Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, 2014. c. Leah Putz

If you want to learn all about Robin Hood, his gang of Merry Men, and their escapades, make your way to the courtyard area outside the castle walls. Here you’ll find a life-sized statue of Robin himself! Behind the statue are a few copper plaques implanted in the castle wall. Each plaque depicts a scene from the legend of Robin Hood. There is also a city map in this area, highlighting all of the locations that feature in the legend, such as the cathedral where Robin and Marian were married, and Sherwood Forest.

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Robin Hood relief sculpture, 2014. c. Leah Putz

There’s much more to see in Nottingham that I wasn’t able to get to either of the times I visited- such as a tour of the caves beneath the castle, Sherwood Forest, and Old Market Square. But, I love this small city, so I’ll be certain to return and explore some more, and I highly recommend you take a trip there and explore as well!

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Robin Hood and I, 2014. c. Leah Putz

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The Holy Grail of Scotland- Duone Castle

I’m happy to admit that Scotland is probably my favorite country I’ve ever visited. I’ve loved every trip there and almost as soon as I leave I start looking forward to the next opportunity that will bring me back to it’s rolling green Highlands and magical landscape. And most definitely my favorite site I’ve been to in Scotland is Duone Castle.

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Gates of Duone Castle, 2014. c. Leah Putz

You see, I love Monty Python. I mean, I really love Monty Python. The first time I saw ‘The Holy Grail’ my mind was blown, and I was certain I had just discovered the funniest movie in all of human existence. I’m still of this opinion. There is nothing to me that makes me laugh so hard, even after seeing it a hundred times. Just quoting it (and believe me, it’s incredibly quotable) can have my friends and I in stitches. It is without a doubt my favorite comedy, and has been since I was probably about 8 years old.

Knowing this, it’s not a surprise that Duone Castle had me fangirling and squealing with excitement like nowhere ever had before, because Monty Python filmed a majority of the footage of ‘The Holy Grail’ in or around Duone Castle. The comedy group had little to no budget for the film, which featured several different castles in the script. They could only afford to rent out one castle, and thus filmed every castle scene in Doune Castle, simply dressing up different rooms to make it look like a whole different location in the movie. Nearly every room is recognizable for a ‘Holy Grail’ fan, and the Castle gift shop is full of Monty Python memorabilia (including a large bottle of beer cleverly called ‘The Holy Ail’).

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Standing in the kitchen where Monty Python filmed many of the ‘Castle Anthrax’ scenes, 2014. c. Leah Putz

Since I visited back in 2014, the castle has become even more popular with tourists, attracting not only Monty Python fans, but fans of Game of Thrones (some Winterfell scenes were filmed there) and the Starz series Outlander, in which the castle portrays the MacKenzie home of Castle Leoch.

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Duone Castle courtyard, 2014. c. Leah Putz

Television and movies aren’t the only reason to visit Duone Castle, though. In remarkable condition for a building that over 800 years old (thanks to Historic Scotland), the castle gives visitors a glimpse into medieval life, and was formerly a hunting lodge for Scottish monarchs. One of the most striking aspects of the castle is the fully restored Lord’s Hall, which now appears just as it would have when the castle was inhabited nearly a millennium ago.

View of the serving room from a high staircase and Castle toilet, 2014. c. Leah Putz

So whether you’re a fan of Monty Python, Outlander, Game of Thrones, or Scottish history, you must put Duone Castle on your bucket list.

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Top of Duone Castle and the Scottish countryside, 2014. c. Leah Putz