Visiting: Kirkness

 

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During May 2019, I was staying in Kinross, Scotland, with my brother on a visit to see my elderly mother who lived in Kirkcaldy. It was on one of the journeys between the two towns that I noticed what looked like a number of abandoned and derelict buildings on the top of a hill.

On asking my brother about this, it was clear that he had not noticed the ruins, despite having driven past them for a number of years to and from his workplace. This is not a criticism: being a photographer, I am always looking around and aware of my surroundings, a trait that is probably unique to my and other artistic professions.

On a rather overcast day towards the end of my visit, I made a special trip, armed with my camera, to investigate. Access to the top of the hill was through a farm property, however I spotted someone, who turned out to be the landowner, at the stables half way up. On asking for and being given permission to proceed, I reached what remains of a group of derelict buildings that included a main house, some outbuildings, small cottages and a walled garden. Seeing this as an opportunity to add to my portfolio of abandoned buildings I set about photographing the remains.

My interest in such a subject matter is twofold: the way that nature seems to conquer everything eventually and the way that derelict buildings reveal mysteries about how they were constructed and used. Both these are illustrated and explained in the two images below.

On the returning to my car, I stopped and chatted with the landowner to gather some information about the place. I was told that it was called Kirkness and that it dates back to at least the sixteenth century. On returning home, further investigation did not reveal too much more about when it was vacated, but a brief history can be found here: http://douglashistory.co.uk/history/Places/kirkness_fife.htm

My gallery of images can be viewed at:

https://www.martinleitchphotography.com/Personal-Projects/Kirkness/

My choice of black and white for these images was made to reflect the mood and atmosphere of the buildings and to better portray the loss of bygone days.

Kirkness_10

What intrigues me about this image is the way that the vegetation has started to dismantle the stone wall and how the trunk and roots of the small tree on the left have wrapped around and look as if they are swallowing up the stones. I would be fascinated to revisit Kirkness in 50 years to see how much more the trees have managed to rip the wall apart. Alas, I will be long gone by then, but hopefully another photographer will make the comparison.

Kirkness_04

This image is one of the remaining spaces of Kirkness House.  It was clearly separated vertically into two levels, judging by the visible timber joist end housings. I am intrigued by the horizontal slots in the wall to the left of the fireplace on the upper level – what could they possibly have been used for? They may have been used to tie a timber structure to the wall, but if you, the reader, have any thoughts, please share them.

 

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