Keeping you current

Job Hunting? How About Working at a Stunning Scottish Castle?

Even after centuries in ruins, castles still need some TLC—and, perhaps, you?

Urquhart Castle, which sits beside Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland (Public domain)
smithsonianmag.com

As the decade changes over, many of us are looking for a fresh start. If your restlessness includes a hankering for the medieval, then you’re in luck: Historic Environment Scotland is hiring—and several of its recently posted jobs could put you in the employ of a bona fide castle, reports Sabrina Imbler for Atlas Obscura.

According to the job descriptions, most of the tasks involve interfacing with the ruins’ many tourists, with some castle upkeep on the side, not unlike the sort of maintenance that the ancient buildings might have needed in their heyday. Some of the less landlocked castles, for instance, seek boat operators; a few have gardens that need tending. Others, however, shatter the illusion just a bit by blending the medieval with the modern in their hiring search, as with this call for a car park steward.

No matter the responsibilities, all the postings can promise the resplendence of Scotland’s storied past. Among the castles seeking employ are the seaside Kisimul and the sprawling Kildrummy, the shipyard-adjacent Newark and the eerie, once-prison St. Andrews.

Kisimul_(34570267945).jpg
Kisimul Castle, located at Castlebay, Barra, in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. (Public domain)

If the sights aren’t enough to lure you in, try the history. Stirling, Doune, Craigmillar and Lochleven all once housed Mary, Queen of Scots—albeit under very different circumstances. Crowned at Stirling in 1543, the regent was later welcomed as a guest at Doune. Craigmillar was the site at which a conspiratorial plot was hatched to kill Mary’s first husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, in 1566. The next year, in the wake of her marriage to the same man accused of Darnley’s murder, Mary was imprisoned at Lochleven and forced to abdicate her throne, Meilan Solly reported for Smithsonian in 2018.

Doune also comes with a few contemporary cultural quirks. In recent years, the riverside castle has gained some niche fame as a filming location for “Monty Python,” “Outlander” and “Game of Thrones.” The castle was actually the original Winterfell in the HBO series’ first pilot—but alas, the scenes were reshot, and Doune didn’t make the final cut.

Despite this, Doune was temporarily renamed “Winterfell” to coincide with the “Game of Thrones” series finale, the Sunday Post’s Ross Crae reported at the time. So if you pay the castle a visit—or let the castle pay you—you can still feel at home as a native of the North.

Scotland-2016-Aerial-Doune_Castle_(and_Castle_keeper's_cottage).jpg
Doune Castle, located near the village of Doune in the Stirling district of central Scotland (Public domain)

But perhaps Urquhart Castle is the stronghold that takes the career cake. A whopping nine jobs are available at these magnificent ruins, which, when still somewhat whole, bore witness to Scotland’s centuries-long war for independence, Imbler reports. After decades of bloody battles and violent raids, things have quieted down for the medieval fortress, which, nowadays, teems with more tourists than soldiers and offers pleasant views of Loch Ness.

Urquhart Castle is apparently so beguiling, in fact, that visitors sometimes forget to leave. Its tourists are meant to “arrive by bus and ... leave by boat, but sometimes they forget to catch the boat,” Euan Fraser, the manager of the castle, tells Imbler. Become an Urquhart visitor associate or steward, though, and you may have a better excuse to stick around the grounds on the regular. Just don’t drag your feet on applying: The job postings are open only until January 16, 2020.

About Katherine J. Wu
Katherine J. Wu

Katherine J. Wu is a Boston-based science journalist and Story Collider senior producer whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Undark magazine, Popular Science and more. She holds a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunobiology from Harvard University, and was Smithsonian magazine's 2018 AAAS Mass Media Fellow.

Read more from this author |
Tags

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus