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. Leading off the hall are three alcoves, which would have been screened by hangings or tapestries to accord some privacy for those members of the laird’s family not directly involved in the activities conducted within the Great Hall. To the left of the fire, on the south wall is an elaborate sideboard or Aumbry grooved for shelves. Made from carved arched stone window surrounds, they appear to have been reclaimed from an earlier religious structure. An Aumbry (originally Almry, a place for alms) such as this were fairly common in Scottish tower houses and would have been used to hold sacred vessels for the mass, but later for the safe keeping of valuables or as buffets for display of stacking plate or pewter. An Aumbry was always conveniently placed near the fireplace at the end of the high table. The alcove to the left of the Aumbry would have been reserved for scribes, or lawyers; who would issue legal advice and record the minutes of meetings, court proceedings and taxation collected within the Great Hall. These meticulous records seldom survive but would have been a comprehensive and exhaustive account of every activity of business conducted within the Great Hall. At the opposite end of the fireplace is a small hatch, or servery, which conceals the kitchen area, or more properly food preparation area as all cooking was then conducted outside. When the castle was first constructed, the cooking area would have been screened by a painted wooden wall, this was replaced by a stone wall filling the archway. At a later date its function evolved to one of merely reheating food for serving, as the kitchen had been relocated in the castle courtyard due to the complex nature of cooking, the noise, smells and constant commotion that all this entailed. . The room adjacent to the kitchen was a waiting room or "withdrawing room" where servants would retire between courses to keep out of sight of the lairds guests. Immediately entering the Great Hall, a chamber leads off to the right leading to the castle dungeon. Although Comlongon has its own dungeon, common with many border strongholds of the time, it is now thought that contrary to the belief the Victorians promoted, this was not used for punishment. Placing of criminals within a dungeon would defeat the purpose of punishment; prisoners would either have to be left to die unfed, which would have pretty much rendered the practice useless. Considering virtually all executions were in public, why go to the bother of starving a prisoner to death? No one would know and the death could not be exploited, or used as a direct message. Or, kept alive 15


comlongon_history
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