During our 'Evening' he suggested that he didn't consider himself to be very talented in this field telling us that 'In over 70 years my drawing is no better now than it was then'. Now Luffness Castle, shown above, is an example of his artistic talent with architectural subjects and, from that alone, I am sure that the majority of you will agree that, with the above remark, he is being too hard on himself.
Look too at his illustrations in 'Fortalices','Fortified Dwellings' and 'Tales and Traditions of Scottish Castles'.
On leaving school he obtained a seven year apprenticeship with Edinburgh's premier firm of Restoration architects and attended night classes at Heriot Watt College. Sadly, with the death of his father, a Minister of Religion, his family could not afford the £500 apprenticeship fees and Nigel had to go into paid employment in the Insurance Company founded by his uncle.
Although his main ambition was thwarted his interest in castles never waned and, drawing on his schoolboy knowledge plus later research, he wrote his first book 'The Fortalices and Early Mansions of Southern Scotland'. in 1931, at the age of 22, ( Published in 1935).
Between the years 1962 and 1971 he published a five volume set covering the whole of Scotland under the title ' The Fortified House in Scotland'.
He is also the author of other books and audio tapes about Scottish Castles.
One of these, 'Tales and Traditions of Scottish Castles' (ISBN 1-897784-13-9, price £7.99) illustrated on the here, is a new and revised edition of Nigel's 1982 book and the Luffness drawing at the top of the page comes from this book. Published in 1993 by Neil Wilson Publishing, Glasgow it can be ordered via the NWP internet link in 'Associated Pages'
This book is also available in two audiotaped versions. 'Tales and Traditions of Scottish Castles' and 'More Tales and Traditions of Scottish Castles'. See the Novelsound link on associated pages.
These are the well known and publicised facts about Nigel and castles but, not so widely known, is that he has also been instrumental in the restoration of between sixty and seventy ruined castles throughout Scotland. His interest and knowledge about Scotland's castles has encouraged a considerable number of people, over the years, to contact him for suggestion as to where they might locate a suitable property for restoration and he has duly obliged.
Although not the way of his boyhood dreams and aspirations, this conservation aspect of his work has resulted his wheel turning full circle and he has been a powerful and influential force in the field of Scottish Castle restoration.
One of the most exceptional restorations that Nigel was instrumental in starting was at Ballencreiff Castle close to where he stays in East Lothian. This building,in a hugely ruinous state, has been lovingly and carefully restored by its owners Peter Gillies and Lin Dalgleish.
Because of the albavision video (See right), you can learn detai of the restoration and also 'meet' Nigel and find out, as I did on my 'Evening', just what a fascinating and unique character he is. All this from the comfort of your own armchair.
There is a link below about the video/DVD and how to purchase it
I am indebted to her for allowing me to use some of her pictures on these pages.