From Battles to Broomsticks

Lena Gryaznova University of Edinburgh, Scotland


November 2, 2014

The past few weeks have included a number of excursions all over the UK.

Alnwick Castle and Newcastle

Alnwick castle is a scene of many movies, including the first 2 of Harry Potter. I got both a Historic tour of the castle grounds as well as a Battleaxe to Broomsticks tour that pointed out where all the various scenes have been shot. We got to see the main road between where Hagrid's house was located in HP films and the castle/Hogwarts, the one seen when people enter Hogwarts, the main arch entrance, the scene where the Whomping Willow was set up, the lawn where Broomstick practice takes place as well as the Malfoy/Harry chase, and the green lamp area where the boys make fun of Hermoine's wingardium leviosa. The inside of the castle has been rebuilt as very Victorian and Renaissance, so the inside was not used since it does not match the outsides. But the castle is a living residential castle, so we got to check out the State Rooms, which are the library, family, dining, living rooms of the Percy family. It is crazy to see all these portraits from the past 600 years mixed with modern photos of the family fishing with their kids and various wedding photos. They also have a massive modern TV in the super awesome library with giant bean-bag chairs.  Not going to lie, I would not mind living in such a pretty place!

We then were off to Newcastle. There we went to their local castle, which looked like one would expect a modest-ish castle to look like, but it had awesome views from the roof. It is a great juxtaposition of this industrial city build all around a castle.

Hadrian’s Wall and Carlisle

Hadrian's Wall was the Northern point of how far the Roman empire spread out and is now ruins of the wall and forts that were located along it. It was really nice to just be able to walk along the grass between the ruins, right next to roaming sheep.

Then it was on to Carlisle Castle, which due to the proximity to the England/Scotland border, has been the location for many invasions and is the most besieged castle in the UK. Carlisle Castle is also the location where Mary Queen of Scots hid from the Scots, and instead wasted away in a tower.

Besides the excursions, I ran a Halloween 5K Fun Run. It was fun to see everyone in their costumes running, plus throughout the course we got glowsticks and candy, so it was like we were trick-or-treating along the course. It was a nice way to keep us motivated.