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details that once adorned the richly decorated room. Some of these have been replaced to give visitors some indication as to the room’s former glory. The western side of the hall is dominated by the huge open fireplace, an original lintel (long since gone), was replaced by a wooden beam unequal in length, propped up on one end by a carved pillar. Above the lintel is an unusual carved over mantle depicting various plants and heads emanating from a dragons breath, believed to depict the ancient Celtic legend of the Green Man, or God of Spring, harking back to Celtic pre Christian times. This would also have at one time been detailed with prime colours and gold leaf. This carving predates the castle by some considerable time and could date from the 11th Century, but obviously had significant importance to the builders as it forms the entire shape and theme of this important focal point of the entire room. To the right of the fire is a small dressing room where the laird would have changed into a variety of outfits, to entertain a constant stream of business delegations and social guests. The floor would have been covered in woven reed mats, provided by the surrounding marshes, and then covered with a layer of herbs and flower petals which dry fairly quickly with the intense heat and would create a perfumed carpet, not only keeping insects at bay but provide a scented floor. Although this pot pourri would have provided a pleasant flooring it would have been a substantial fire risk, preventing illumination by rushes or tallow candles; both highly unstable. Therefore most of the illumination provided for the room, especially at night would have come from the massive fireplace which would have given a far safer source of light. The size of the fireplace has led many to think that the castle was either cold or cooking was conducted here. Neither is correct. The fireplace was lit most of the day, which resulted in the walls being continually heated, which would act as radiators. Far from being a cold structure as most people would imagine the whole of the Castle was continually heated (The main chimneys are designed to expel the heat generated) Servants would be employed to constantly monitor the temperature of the building and close or open window shutters to ensure the occupants had optimum comfort. It seems the main reason for the size of the fireplace is one purely of convenient controlled light, especially in the evening. A central localised light source would have drastically reduced the number of tallow candles needed-which would always have posed a significant fire risk, especially considering the amount of flammable material within the room. Tallow candles give off a vast amount of thick black smoke and have a very unpleasant odour, so if illumination were relied upon by these alone, occupants would be nearly choked and blinded by the smoke and fumes. There is little evidence of any cooking being conducted within the castle; when one considers the noise, smells and disturbance created by cooking it seems obvious that 13


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