photo of mason pointing scottish arch
photo of mason pointing scottish arch
Mason Mick Robinson pointing the Scottish Arch at the Penrose-Strawbridge Farm

1721 Scottish Arch

Socttish Arch at the Penrose-Strawbridge Farm

The Scottish arch is one of the more mysterious structures at the Penrose-Strawbridge Farm. It was part of the east wall of the barn built in 1839 by William Penrose but is believed to pre-date the barn and probably was constructed during the time of Sir William Keith.

The arch is an almost semi-circular segmented arch constructed in a wall of faced stone. It appears to originally been designed as a doorway but the lower part of the opening was filled in at some time to the depth of about 2 feet. This construction is consistent with the arches built in Scotland during this time.

"... In the North of Scotland, 16th to 18th century arches were generally semicircular, until about 1740. Thereafter, segmental was the norm.... occasionally a segmental arch may be almost semi-circular and it may be sensible to classify it as such; sometimes a segmental arch may be stilted or raised and therefore resemble a semi-circular shape"124

Governor Keith's purpose for developing his plantation here was to "distill spirits and brew beer". Our architectural historian, Herb Levy, suggests that this arch may be a remnant of his attempt at building a distillery.

photo of stone archway and wall

The current barn sits about 50 feet back from the arch but the arch was used as part of the walls of the barn when it was built in 1839. The photo here, taken from near the Keith House in 1923 and looking southeast, shows the massive size of the original barn. You can just see the arch above the fence to the left of the 2nd tree from the left.

The lower part of the arch has been walled in with stones. There is a smaller wall about 20 feet to the east of the arch and another wall connecting this to the arch, forming a pen. This may have been done by the Strawbridges following the 1949 fire to create a pen for animals. There are stalls on the other side of the arch that were also used for animals that were also likely constructed after the fire.

photo of original 1939 barn with 3 gabled ends and 2 ridge lines

There were arches used all over Scotland for hundreds of years so this is probably not that significant - but Boddam Castle where Sir William Keith was born in 1669 has a very similar arch....

photo of Boddam Castle ruins

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