Tuesday, 20 May 2014

"Wha daur meddle wi me?": The Might of Edinburgh Castle


I promised to share some photos and stories of my trip to Scotland. I know this is not a travel blog but I think some of you will be interested in them (and there will be yarn!). I will spread them over a couple of posts, otherwise I only drown you all in photos. I did something similar when I went to Dublin and it seemed to work well.

In Scotland we stayed in Edinburg, and from there we visisted some other places in Scotland as well as explored the city itself. Let me start out by saying that Edinburg is a beautiful city, possibly the most beautiful I've ever visited. Scotland has an extremely rich history and the city, the landscape, each mountain, each building breathes that history. The city draws a lot of tourists, and understandably so. Interesting fact though, is that many of the tourists are British or even Scottish themselves.  To non-British tourists it is worth noting that in Scotland entrance to museums is free of charge, while entrance to monuments can be quite expensive: in the Netherlands it is the other way around.



One of Edinburgh's greatest sights of interests is Edingburgh Castle. Built on Castle Rock, an ancient volcanic rock, it towers over the city. At castle rock your got a spectacular view over the city, as well as Arthur's seat and Conan Hill. When visiting Edinburgh, or Scotland in general, make sure you got your walking shoes as the city doesn't have an inch of flat soil. Everything is either hills or stairs.



Some of the views from the castle, including:
Camera Obscura, the Hub, the Firth of Forth, Calton Hill, the Scott Monument,
the National Gallery and Edinburgh railway station.
You enter the castle from a large esplanade, through a relatively young gatehouse, built in the late nineteenth century. It has statues of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. The rest of the castle however, is much older: the eldest part remaining is a chapel commissioned and finished during the reign of King David, who dedicated it to his mother, Saint Margaret, in the first half of the 12th century.

The gatehouse

Wallace and the Bruce watching over the entrance

The castle is an impressive sight, with a rich history. It is a puzzle of buildings of different era's and different purposes. For a long part of it's existence, the castle has been a residence for the Stuart dynasty. The royal palace and the great hall are testimony to this. The royal palace now holds a museum to the history of the Scottish monarchy, including several very special artifacts: the Scottish Crown Jewels, and the Stone of Destiny. This last artifact is a stone which has served as the seat of Scottish (and later British) kings since, according to legend, far before the twelfth century. It was taken as part of the spoils of war when King Edward conquered Scotland, and returned only in 1996.

The inner gate, complete with porticullis

On the public square, after the gatehouse but before the ticket booth,
a bit of recent history

The castle has seen military use as well. Not only as one of the most important fortifications of medieval Scotland, but also as barracks in renaissance and early modern times until 1923. Sieges have marred the castle and created the patchwork of buildings that it is now. One of those sieges is the Lang Siege of 1571 to 1573. When Mary Queen of Scots was forced to abdicate in favour of her son James, Edinburgh was in the hands of James' supporters, the castle commander changed sides to support Mary. He held the castle long after all others on that side, including Mary herself, had long given up. It took 27 English cannons to conclude the siege.




If you are a fan of history, the Castle is a must see. It is definately worth the entrance fee, especially when you plan on visiting other monuments like Stirling Castle, because you can get a combination ticket, which we did. Even if you're not into history that much, the sights are impressive enough in itself. The day we left, we spent significant time sitting on a bench in a open square of the castle -in the rain of course- enjoying the sights of the city, the castle walls, the bare rock and the throng of people.



In a few days, I'll post another post about the sights of Edinburgh town, and the other places we've visited such as Stirling Caslte, Loch Lomond and the Lothian Coast. Somewhere, far behind that, rest assured, this blog will return to it's normal, crafty, content. I can not promise though, that no knitting or crafting will show up during the travelogue.

xxx

4 comments :

Anonymous said...

Wat leuk om de foto's te zien en het stuk te lezen van jullie Schotland reis!
Wat een mooi gebied!
Groeten Margot

Wendy said...

It looks like a wonderful trip, I loved Edinburgh when I visited years ago, it is so beautiful its wuite breath taking, look forward to more of your trip! xx

Wendy said...

oops that should have been 'quite breath taking' by the way :-)

diy said...

Een mooi verhaal heb je geschreven
Jammer dat de vakantie niet langer duurde.
Misschien een andere keer.
Fijn dat het zo goed bevallen is.
Groeten aan iedereen.
Daaaag.

Paul.