After our Boxing Day walk on the beach we stopped off at Duffus Castle. For all that it lies just off the road between Hopeman and Elgin, I had never visited the castle. The daylight was dying as we explored, so there was a lot of detail that wouldn't come out in photos. But just to give you a quick historical sketch - the original wooden castle was built around 1140 in the Norman motte and bailey style by a Flemish merchant called Freskin. It's presumed that he was given the land by King David 1. The wooden structure was burned down in 1297 by Andrew Moray, who descended on the castle with 'a very large body of rogues' because it held a garrison of troops of King Edward 1 of England. A stone castle was then built in the early 1300s, and was occupied until around 1705. Latterly the castle's tower slid down into the motte, and this is the lump you can see on the right hand side of the shot above.
We experienced contrasting fly pasts while we walked about the castle and grounds. The first was announced by approaching engine noise, followed by a yellow Sea King search and rescue helicopter emerging just behind the castle. I wasn't quick enough with my camera to get a close-up - we stood and gaped at the close proximity of 12th century castle and 21st century flying machine - but here it is as it heads in to land at RAF Lossiemouth, just beyond the line of trees.
The second was quieter, but no less absorbing: skeins of wild geese heading towards the sunset. They were probably greylag geese, which overwinter from Iceland along the Moray coast.