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A royal residence, vital stronghold and iconic structure, Edinburgh Castle is one of the most famous castles in the world. With centuries of history to explore, it is a must-see for visitors looking to explore the United Kingdom’s fascinating past, and has something for history lovers of any era.
Edinburgh Castle history
Known by its English name since the invasion of the Angles in 638AD, the first mentions of Edinburgh Castle occurred in 600 when it was called “Din Eidyn” or “the fortress of Eidyn”.
However, even before the Angles Edinburgh Castle’s location had served as a vital stronghold for centuries. Archaeologists have found evidence of human settlement on the rock on which the castle sits as early as 900 BC, during the late Bronze Age. Over the following centuries, Edinburgh Castle continued to play a role as a crucial defensive structure as well as becoming an integral part of Scotland’s history.
It initially became a royal castle in the Middle Ages and has since been the site of many significant events in royal and military history. As a royal residence, Edinburgh Castle was the site of the birth of King James VI in 1566, later James I of England, whose mother was Mary, Queen of Scots. Visitors can even see the small room where he was born!
Edinburgh Castle’s main role was a military fortification however, and from as early as the 13th century was a focal point in the war between England and Scotland. Captured by Edward I of England following a three-day siege, Edinburgh Castle was then the subject of a tug of war between the warring countries, swapping hands numerous times in the 13th and 14th centuries until the Scots took it back again in 1341.
By this time much of the original castle had been destroyed, and was rebuilt under the order of David II who later died there in 1371. The buildings of Edinburgh Castle were to suffer further destruction however, with David’s Tower – built in honour of David II – razed during the Lang Siege in the 16th century. The final siege at Edinburgh Castle would take place in 1745, during the Jacobite Rising.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Edinburgh Castle found itself fulfilling a new role: as a prison. It housed prisoners from numerous wars, including the Seven Years’ War, the American War of Independence, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.
Edinburgh Castle today
Today, visitors to Edinburgh Castle can explore the castle’s history through a series of guided tours and exhibitions. Amongst its many attractions are the Scottish National War Memorial and National War Museum, that give an insight into Scotland’s fascinating military history.
Other highlights include the Mons Meg, a giant cannon gifted to James II in 1457, and the Great Hall, built by James IV in 1511. Royal exhibitions include The Honours of Scotland jewels which, along with Scotland’s coronation stone – the Stone of Destiny – can be found in the castle’s Crown Room. Edinburgh Castle is also home to the oldest building in the city, the 12th-century St Margaret’s Chapel.
Getting to Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is located in the centre of Edinburgh at the top of Castlehill. Edinburgh Waverly train station is a 7-minute walk away, while a number of local bus services run to Victoria Street, a 5-minute walk away.
Edinburgh Airport is also within easy reach of the city centre, with the Airlink 100 bus and tram services heading into Edinburgh on a regular basis. Parking is scarce in the city, therefore visitors are advised to travel via public transport.
Edinburgh Castle history: 900 years protecting Scotland’s capital
It’s estimated there were once around 3,000 castles in Scotland but one stands head and shoulders above the rest: Edinburgh Castle’s history is marked by violence, political and religious intrigue, and the rise and fall of monarchs.
Nevertheless, today, Edinburgh’s iconic fortress is the country’s number one paid-for tourist attraction. Inside you can view some of the nation’s most treasured possessions, including the Honours of Scotland, or Scotland’s Crown Jewels.
The origins of Edinburgh Castle
Sitting atop an extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle offers an excellent vantage point across the city. It was a natural site for a building that combined defence, control and honour.
The oldest existing part of the castle – which is also Edinburgh’s most antiquated building – is St Margaret’s Chapel, which dates from the 12th century.
The chapel was built by King David I to commemorate his mother, Queen Margaret (later St Margaret).
In time, King David II added David’s Tower, which was residential and defensive in design. The grand Great Hall was the work of King James IV. Its key feature is a wooden roof with beams resting on stones engraved with symbols of Scotland and its monarchs. Today its walls glisten with an impressive display of swords, shields, suits of armour and weaponry.
Attacks on Edinburgh Castle
As a military stronghold and the most prestigious building in Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh Castle was captured and recaptured many times. In fact, it’s been besieged more than any other place in Britain, with 23 recorded attempts to ‘capture the castle’. Taking the castle wasn’t just a tactical coup for Scotland’s enemies but a blow to the morale of the Scots. Violent tensions, often between England and Scotland, are now consigned to the history books but conflicts were brutal and unforgiving.
Captured in 1296 by England’s King Edward I, the Scots reclaimed it with a night attack in 1314. The English successfully attacked again in 1335 before, in 1341, Scots disguised as merchants took it back. Cromwell’s forces occupied the castle in 1650. At one point it was even handed over to the English as a ransom payment. It was captured twice by Covenanters in the 17th century, fighting against King Charles I’s imposition of Episcopacy. Bloody battles ensued with the Jacobites in the 18th century.
The ascent of King James VI
As a thriving tourist attraction today, the Royal Palace within Edinburgh Castle is a big draw as it was the home of Scotland’s kings and queens. A highlight is a small room where events unfolded that changed British history. In 1566 the birth chamber saw the arrival of a little boy, son of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was made King James VI of Scotland just a year later.
Mary, Queen of Scots’ strained relations with England led her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, to sign her death warrant. When Queen Elizabeth I died without issue, the bloodlines led back to Mary’s son James. In 1603 the crowns of England and Scotland were united and James VI of Scotland also became King James I of England and Ireland.
In 1617 King James I returned to Edinburgh Castle to celebrate his Golden Jubilee. His birth chamber was redecorated for the occasion: it’s still possible to see the gilded decoration.
Scotland’s Crown Jewels
Scotland’s Crown Jewels, or the Honours of Scotland, are on display in the Crown Room. These include a sceptre presented to King James IV by Pope Alexander VI in 1494 a sword, gifted in 1507 by Pope Julius II and the crown, which was first worn for the coronation of Mary of Guise in 1540.
As potent symbols of the Scottish monarchy, protecting the jewels was paramount. In the 1650s, the Honours were whisked to Dunnottar Castle, in the northeast of Scotland, then onto the small village of Kinneff, to evade Cromwell’s Parliamentarian Army.
After the Union of England and Scotland in 1707, they were locked away and not seen again until 1818. During WWII the Honours of Scotland were tucked away below a medieval latrine closet in case of Nazi invasion.
Another key attraction is the Stone of Destiny. Present at the coronation of Scottish monarchs for centuries, the stone – while unassuming to look at – is powerfully symbolic. In 1296, King Edward I of England removed the stone from Scone Palace in Perthshire and had it built into his own throne at Westminster Abbey.
On Christmas Day in 1950, four Scottish students managed to steal the stone. Its disappearance caused uproar and its location was a mystery until it was found, draped in The Saltire, outside Arbroath Abbey in 1951. This was no random drop off point but the site where the Declaration of Arbroath – in which Scotland’s nobles swore their independence from England – was written in 1320. The stone was returned to London until, in 1996, it was given back to Scotland. It will only leave the country again for a coronation at Westminster Abbey.
Edinburgh’s military links
Edinburgh Castle’s colourful military past has created other poignant sites on the sprawling complex, which adds a brutal reality to the tales of invasion, duplicity and heroics. The National War Museum of Scotland first opened in 1933 and covers 400 years of conflict. The Prisons of War exhibition tells of the inmates who languished in the castle, from pirates captured off Argyll to a five-year-old drummer boy from the Battle of Trafalgar.
The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards still have a small military garrison at the castle, but it’s the National War Memorial that often stops people in their tracks. It opened in 1927, when the architect Sir Robert Lorimer and 200 Scottish artists and craftsmen first created a Hall of Honour and Shrine, which features delicate stained glass and sculptures dedicated to Scotland’s lost generations and the names of the fallen on the Rolls of Honour.
The One O’ Clock Gun
One of the greatest appeals of Edinburgh Castle is that it’s still part of the city’s daily life. The firing of the One O’Clock Gun, which once allowed ships in the Firth of Forth to set their maritime clocks, still marks time in ‘Auld Reekie’. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and summer concerts are also huge draws.
And the biggest party of the year is, of course, Hogmanay, where new year celebrations see fireworks light up the skies, musicians performing and revellers partying as the nation – and the whole world – celebrate with the people of Edinburgh and its mighty castle.
Ten Interesting Facts about Edinburgh Castle
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An outstanding piece of the Edinburgh skyline, Edinburgh Castle is an iconic landmark that has long been part of the Scottish capital. Built on top of an extinct volcano known as Castle Rock in the 11 th Century, it held the best defensive position in the city. This was tested many times over the centuries, from the Wars of Scottish Independence to the Jacobite Rebellion. Today, the castle is very much a repository of Scottish history and culture, home to a number of artifacts and events. We have outlined ten interesting facts about Edinburgh Castle below, and you can share some of your own stories about visits to the castle in the comments.
The Top of the Rock
Yes, you did read the intro correctly Edinburgh Castle is built on top of an extinct volcano. The last time Castle Rock was active as a volcano was over 350 million years ago. The rock is what’s known as a volcanic plug, which is made of dolerite that is much harder than surrounding sedimentary rock. Castle Rock rises about 430 feet above sea level and formed with a slope that extends eastward, which is the only accessible route. This made it a perfect place to defend from attack.
Plenty of Fighting
Of course, what good would a defensive position be if it was never attacked? Edinburgh Castle is the most besieged fortress in European history, having been attacked over twenty-three times during its history.
It’s an Honor
Known as the “Honours of Scotland,” the Scottish Crown Jewels are the oldest royal regalia in the United Kingdom and were first used for the coronation of Mary, Queen of Scots, when she was nine months old in 1543. The last monarch to use them in their coronation was King Charles II, who was crowned in Scone after the execution of his father by Oliver Cromwell. The Honours were kept safe from Cromwell during the Protectorate and returned to Charles during the Restoration. They were used at meetings of the Scottish Parliament, but after that body was dissolved, the crown jewels were locked in a chest in Edinburgh Castle and forgotten until they were discovered by Sir Walter Scott.
Oldest Building in Scotland
St. Margaret’s Chapel is the oldest still-standing part of the castle, constructed in 1130. This also makes it the oldest building in Scotland today.
The Stolen Stone
In addition to the Honours of Scotland, you can also find the Stone of Scone, also known as the Stone of Destiny, at Edinburgh Castle. The Stone was historically kept at Scone Abbey and used in the coronation of Scottish kings until it was stolen by King Edward I in 1296 and put under his own coronation chair. The British Government returned the Stone of Scone 700 years later under the understanding that it will remain at Edinburgh Castle when not in use for coronations.
Well before everyone had a clock, the “One O’Clock Gun” was fired at that hour every day. It has been fired every day since 1861, with the exception of Sundays, Good Friday, and Christmas Day.
No Ink Involved
One of the largest events that takes place at Edinburgh Castle is the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. This event is an annual competition amongst the world’s military bands, with the word “tattoo” coming from a 17 th Century Dutch phrase that meant “turn off the tap,” which was a signal to tavern owners from the military drum corps akin to a “last call.” The first Edinburgh Military Tattoo was held in 1950 and happened without interruption until the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
A Haunting Melody
The castle is believed to be haunted by a lone piper who supposedly disappeared in the walls and seeks to be found.
A Final Resting Place for Good Boys
On the path to the castle, you can find a small cemetery dedicated to battalion pets. The first regimental dog to be buried here was Jess in 1881, who was a regimental mascot to the Black Watch 42 nd Highlanders. Other pets are buried as well here who were also regimental mascots or personal pets of high-ranking soldiers. Visitors cannot enter the cemetery, but it can be seen from above while touring the castle.
Base of Operations
Edinburgh Castle is still an active military base today.
About John Rabon
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James IV and Margaret Tudor 1473 – 1513 | 1489 – 1541
James IV had a key role to play in shaping Edinburgh Castle.
He completed work begun by his father to create the main courtyard and royal palace, around what is now Crown Square. The magnificent Great Hall was completed in 1512, built as a ceremonial centre for banquets, entertainment and court affairs. Inside, beautifully carved stone corbels support the original hammer-beam roof. Each stone depicts images and symbols that represent the monarchy and the marriage of James to his English wife, Margaret Tudor. The carvings include Scottish thistles and English roses, James’ royal cipher, a Venus figure with Tudor roses either side, and cherubs symbolising love. Their marriage was intended to ensure perpetual peace between the two nations. Sadly James IV died fighting the English at the Battle of Flodden in 1513.
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Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress that dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland from its position on Castle Rock. Human settlers have lived here from as far back and the Bronze and Iron Age. For more fascinating facts and information about Edinburgh Castle, see the fact file below or download the comprehensive worksheet pack which can be utilized within the classroom or home environment.
- Edinburgh Castle is built on the Castle Rock, which is a large, inactive volcano that is believed to have risen around 350 million years ago.
- The summit of the castle rock is 130 meters (430 ft) above sea level and has rocky cliffs on the south, west, and north, rearing up to 80 meters (260 ft) from the surrounding landscape. This means the castle can only be reached from the east, where the ridge is less sloped, and the defensive advantage may have played an important part in the decision to build Edinburgh Castle there.
- Archaeologists are unsure when Castle Rock was first used by humans and there are no records of Roman interest in the site up to the end of the first century AD (100 AD).
- The first possible mention of Castle Rock may have been in a map, called Ptolemy’s map, in the 2nd century AD. This map shows a settlement called “Alauna” which means “rock place” and could be the earliest know name of Castle Rock.
- An archaeological dig in 1990 revealed that people on the Bronze Age or Iron Age that followed were the first people to live there, and built a fort on Castle Rock in 2nd century AD, mid-way through the Iron Age.
- In the early Middle Ages, Edinburgh Castle is next mentioned in 600 AD in a poem which describes a band of warriors who spent a year feasting in their fortress before fighting to the death in the battle with the Angles at Catreath in Yorkshire.
- The first mention of a castle in Edinburgh was an account that Queen Margaret (also known as Saint Margaret of Scotland) was living at Edinburgh Castle when she heard that her husband, King Malcolm III, had died in November 1093.
- The account also says that Queen Margaret herself died a few days later because she was overcome with grief from the loss of her husband and King Malcolm’s brother Donald Bane laid siege to the castle.
- It was during the reigns of King Malcolm III and his sons that Edinburgh Castle became one of the most significant royal centers in Scotland. Malcolm’s son King Edgar died there in 1107.
- King David I, Malcolm’s youngest son, reigned from 1124–1153 and spent much of his time at Edinburgh Castle where he developed Edinburgh as the center of royal power in Scotland.
- Edinburgh Castle is thought to have been built using timber, although two stone buildings were documented as early as the 12th century. One of these buildings, St. Margaret’s Chapel, remains at the summit of the rock to this day.
- During the Wars of Scottish Independence, starting in 1296, King Edward I of England launched an invasion of Scotland and Edinburgh Castle came under English control.
- Edward I of England died in 1307 and on March 4th, 1314, a surprise night attack by Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray recaptured the castle for Scotland and the King of Scots, Robert the Bruce, ordered Edinburgh Castle defenses be destroyed to prevent the English re-occupying it.
- Ownership of Edinburgh Castle changed between England and Scotland throughout the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 13th and 14 centuries.
- In the 14th century, King David II began to rebuild Edinburgh Castle, and David’s Tower was started in 1367. When David II died in 1371, King Robert II completed the tower in the 1370s.
- During the 15th century, the castle was used increasingly as an arsenal and armaments factory. This means Edinburgh Castle was used to store and make ammunition and guns. The first gun was purchased for the castle in 1384 and the “great bombard” Mons Meg was delivered to Edinburgh in 1457. A bombard is a type of large cannon which fires cannonballs. Mons Meg was 6 feet 6 inches long and fired 20-inch cannonballs.
- In the 18th century and early 19th century, the castle vaults of Edinburgh Castle were used as a prison for many conflicts. These include the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), the American War of Independence (1775–1783), and the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815).
- It was also during this time that several new buildings were built inside the castle. This included stores, powder magazines, the Governor’s House (1742), and the New Barracks (1796–1799).
- The use of Edinburgh Castle came after a large prison break in 1811, after 49 prisoners of war escaped via a hole in the south wall.
- However, the castle was used once more as a prison during World War I and World War II.
- Edinburgh Castle is now under the care of Historic Scotland, part of the government, and is Scotland’s most-visited paid tourist attraction, with over 1.4 million visitors every year. In fact, over 70% of all visitors to Edinburgh also visit the castle.
Edinburgh Castle Worksheets
This bundle contains 11 ready-to-use Edinburgh Castle worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more about Edinburgh Castle which is a historic fortress that dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland from its position on the Castle Rock. Human settlers have lived here from as far back and the Bronze and Iron Age.
Download includes the following worksheets:
- Edinburgh Castle Facts
- Edinburgh Castle Word Search
- Picture Crossword
- Fact or Bluff
- Edinburgh Castle Timeline
- Who am I?
- Parts of the Castle
- Fill in the Blanks
- Poster Making
- Edinburgh Castle in History
- Edinburgh Castle Acrostic
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Use With Any Curriculum
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Who Built Edinburgh Castle
During the Middle Ages it became Scotland’s first royal castle, providing a home to the sheriff of Edinburgh and a station for many military troops. Along with this, the royal gun train and the crown jewels were stored here. Many of the buildings we see today were erected at the instruction of King David I in 1130. Most notably perhaps is the chapel dedicated to his mother, Queen Margaret.
Edinburgh Castle has endured much during its long life, including sieges by Scotland’s enemies. The first to capture the castle after a three-day siege, was Edward I in 1296. However, once Edward died the Earl of Moray, Sir Thomas Randolph reclaimed it for the Scots in 1314. In this daring attempt, only 30 men scaled the northern cliff-face under the cover of darkness.
Twenty years after this, the English captured it again, only to have it taken away 7 years later by Sir William Douglas who disguised himself and his men as merchants and won it back via a surprise attack.
Edinburgh Castle: Scotland’s Haunted Castle
Edinburgh Castle is one of Scotland&rsquos most recognizable and most haunted castles. This foreboding fortress towers high over Edinburgh from upon its rocky perch, known as Castle Rock. The land the castle exists upon has been occupied by humans since at least the Bronze Age, with the castle&rsquos construction commencing later in the 12th century.
Since Edinburgh Castle was such an important stronghold for ruling Scotland, the rival English and Scottish Monarchies have fought over and taken turns in occupying the castle throughout history. This resulted in many sieges and battles being fought at the castle. There is historical evidence suggesting that at least 26 sieges took place at the castle, making it one of the most besieged landmarks in the world. With so many battles, suffering and death having occurred at Edinburgh Castle, it really comes as no surprise that it is considered to be haunted.
Haunted Edinburgh Castle Dungeon
Though there are many areas of Edinburgh Castle and its grounds that are said to be haunted, the castle&rsquos dungeons are considered to be especially active. To understand the pain, suffering, torment and death within those dungeons is to understand why there could be residual energy left behind. Former prisoners who perished either from poor living conditions, malnourishment, disease or torture are still said to linger within Edinburgh Castle&rsquos dark depths. Many visitors claim to have sighted them or even heard them down there.
One of these prisoners has a particularly dark story and is thought to have remained at the castle as a ghost. This prisoner was so desperate to escape his suffering, he buried himself within a wheelbarrow filled with dung. Being completely concealed in the feces he expected to be wheeled down the Royal Mile to freedom. Although his plan saw his escape from the dungeon, the barrow was disposed off over the towering edge of Castle Rock. Sadly, this man fell from the great height to his imminent death. Some say that he remains at the castle as a ghost. In his disgruntled rage, he is said to attempt to push people from the heights of the castle. Luckily, those who come into contact with this spirit are usually made aware he is around, as his presence is accompanied by the strong stench of dung.
Edinburgh&rsquos Ghostly Piper
Another ghost story of Edinburgh relates to a young piper boy. After underground tunnels leading from the castle were discovered a few hundred years ago, people grew curious as to where they stretched. An entrance to these tunnels was located, yet its small opening meant that only a young boy could be sent down to explore.
This young boy was forced into the task and instructed to play his bagpipes as he followed the tunnel. The sound allowed those above ground to track where he was and follow his progress. The boy made it halfway down the Royal Mile before suddenly falling silent. Though rescue efforts were attempted, the boy was never located. No one really knows what happened to the young lad, yet most people believe that he died down there. Legend has it that on a still quiet night you can still hear the muffled sound of the boy&rsquos bagpipes playing as he continues to search for a way out of the tunnel.
The Ghost Drummer Boy of Edinburgh Castle
Strangely enough, another young boy with an instrument haunts Edinburgh Castle. This young boy generally appears to people as a headless apparition and is always playing his drum. To see this spirit is a very bad omen as he will only appear right before the castle comes under attack. As it has been a long time since the castle&rsquos last attack, no one has seen this spirit in a long time. There is still a lot of mystery around this young boy as nobody really knows, who he is, or why he is at the castle.
The Ghost Dog of Edinburgh Castle
Another spirit that is commonly seen at the castle is that of a black dog. This animal is often seen running around the castle&rsquos grounds before suddenly disappearing into thin air. Many people believe that this dog is somehow tied to the dog cemetery which exists at Edinburgh Castle. This small cemetery contains many soldier dogs, which some people believe could be the ghost dog.
A Witches&rsquo Ghost at Edinburgh Castle
Yet, another spirit at the castle also met a tragic end. This is the spirit of Janet Douglas or Lady Glamis. She was accused of witchcraft by the current king of Scotland during the 1500s. After this accusation, Janet was thrown into the Edinburgh Castle dungeon. Her family and servants were then tortured to gain evidence against her of being a witch. Eventually, Janet was sentenced to death and burned alive at the stake at the castle, with her young 16-year-old son onlooking.
Many people claim this traumatic death has caused the Lady Glamis to return to the castle as a ghost, though she is also believed to haunt another Scottish castle that she once lived within.
A Paranormal Experiment at Edinburgh Castle
One of the most interesting ghostly stories of Edinburgh Castle relates to how its paranormal activity has been investigated. In 2001 Dr. Richard Wisman conducted a study that included over 200 participants. These people were moved through some of the most haunted areas of Edinburgh Castle, without any prior knowledge of ghost stories or supposed hauntings. The findings show that more than half of the participants reported having an unexplainable paranormal experience during their time in the castle. These were surprisingly mainly reported within areas that are known to be &lsquohaunted.&rsquo
Some reports included sudden temperature drops, seeing shadow figures, burning skin, feeling like a presence is around watching them and even having clothing tugged. Whilst these findings cannot conclude for certain that Edinburgh Castle is haunted, they are very interesting.
Visiting the Haunted Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is open as a tourist attraction containing the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Scottish National War Monument and Museum. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time online. Crowds can become large at certain times of the year, especially during the Summer months.
If you enjoyed this article, why not check out the nearby haunted Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Castle, The Story of A Magnificent and Historic Castle
Prior to joining the United Kingdom, Scotland is a kingdom of its own under the name Kingdom of Scotland. As an empire, of course, Scotland also has a castle as the residence of the royal family as well as the bastion. The castle is Edinburgh Castle, the most important building in the history of Scotland at the same time most iconic landmarks and buildings in the city of Edinburgh and even Scotland.
Edinburgh Castle stands majestically on the Castle Rock hill which has a height of 130 meters above sea level. This hill formed from the remains of a volcano that has erupted estimated at 340 million years ago.
Until the end of the prehistoric era, has not found evidence to suggest that this hill was inhabited. But then the area around the hill grown rapidly and become a civilization. In the year 683, the city was founded by British troops and later named as Edinburgh. Since then, Scotland have started to be colonized by the British forces with Castle Rock serve as one of the centers and military headquarters.
Edinburgh Castle is known was built in the 12th century by King David I. He was the youngest son of the ruler of Scotland before, that King Malcolm III with the daughter of the British empire which later became known as the Queen Margaret. The castle was built by using rocks from the volcano so it looks magnificent and sturdy .
One of the first buildings constructed in the complex of the castle is St Margaret’s Capel, built in memory of his mother. King David uses the castle as a center of military power as well as administrative center in Scotland. The desire of Scotland to escape from the British cause frequent conflicts between them, and the center of the conflict is of course always leads to mastery of Edinburgh Castle.
Which party has control of Edinburgh Castle is believed to have mastered the entire area of Scotland. A Scottish independence war which first occurred in 1926 when England led by King Edward I who invades Scotland and then mastered Edinburgh Castle. This raises the reaction and resistance of the people of Scotland, led by one of the greatest hero William Wallace.
Edinburgh Castle Image. Image Via: edinburghcastle.gov.uk
Edinburgh Castle on The Castle Rock Hill
Scotland’s independence war struggle continued until many years with continued by Robert the Bruce, one of the greatest kings of Scotland. During the war took place, either Scotland or England alternately occupied the Edinburgh Castle.
When Scotland re-mastered by the British, the two royal marriages are not uncommon. One is that King James IV of Scotland, married Margaret Tudor, the eldest daughter of Henry VII of England. The marriage would produce offspring Scottish king who has a British royal lineage.
So when the power vacuum in England after Queen Elizabeth I died without a male heir, James VI of Scotland who is the great-grandson of King James IV became the only offspring who is entitled to be king. Appointment of King James VI of Scotland became king of England marked the merging of the two kingdoms, and he was known as King James I of England.
Edinburgh Castle Scotland UK
Edinburgh Castle Scotland Photography. Image Via: dreamhouseapartments.com
Since then, Edinburgh Castle is no longer used as the residence of the king of Scotland. Last King of Scotland descent who masters English and Edinburgh Castle was King Charles I. After the reign of Charles I, Edinburgh Castle widely used by the British empire as a place to imprison prisoners of war, be it from the Seven Years War, the American Revolution until the Napoleonic Wars.
But the defection of events prisoners of this jail in 1811 makes this castle is no longer safe for use as a prison. Since then, Edinburgh Castle then functioned as a national monument and opened to the public. Renovations and improvements subsequently made to the castle in order to be more attractive for the visitors to come.
Edinburgh Castle is now known as one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the city of Edinburgh. The castle is in the form of a complex consisting of magnificent buildings in it. The building that will be first seen when entering the main gate is the Half Moon Battery, which is a ring-shaped high wall built on the ruins of David’s Tower.
This fortress was first used as one of the main defenses of the castle, complete with weapons and special chambers for storing ammunition. The room is now used as a gallery to display the artifacts and implements of war that remain. The main building and the most protected of course, is a building that is home to the royal family, the Royal Palace.
In place is then born great kings of Scotland, including the King James VI. The exterior of the building is decorated by the clock tower and became one of the most iconic among other buildings in the castle. The interior of the building is decorated with decorations and paintings which make it the most beautiful building.
One of the most interesting rooms is the Crown Room, a place to store and display objects that are symbols like the royal crown, robes, swords or armor king. Another magnificent room of the castle is the Great Hall, the most spacious room which is used as a place to hold ceremonies, including the appointment of a king or a formal banquet.
This building was built during the reign of King James IV in the 16th century, with a Renaissance-style interior design. In the era after the leadership of King Charles I, the hall is a barracks or shelter for the troops. A collection of various types of weapons and armor as well as the many amenities featured in this room.
One of the interesting attractions of Edinburgh Castle, is the One O’Clock Gun, the event shelling is done every day to indicate that the time has shown at 1 pm. Shelling was first performed in 1861 as a time marker signal for ships that are in the area, Firth of Forth, the water flows towards the sea to the north.
Although it is now shipping a marker signal that time is not necessary, but the shelling has become one of the attractions of interest to visitors. At first the shelling was held in the castle Half Moon Battery by using a 64-pounder cannon, now these attractions is done by using the 105 mm cannon on the ramparts overlooking the north, the Mill’s Mount Battery.
Edinburgh Castle Photo. Image Via: dailyrecord.co.uk
Edinburgh Castle Aerial View
In addition to these attractions, visitors will also be able to see a collection of guns and weapons owned by the castle, one of which is Mons Meg, one of the world’s most famous weapons. Edinburgh Castle still has a few pieces of other buildings were also magnificent and interesting, such as St. Margaret’s Capel which is the oldest building in the complex of the castle, dungeon, Scottish National War Memorial, and the National War Museum and Regimental Museum.
There are many historical, heroic stories, buildings and objects of interest that can be seen in the castle. During this visit the castle, visitors will be accompanied by an audio guide that will accompany the trip to explore the most magnificent buildings in Scotland. Visiting Edinburgh city would not be complete without visiting Edinburgh Castle.
10 Amazing Facts of the Edinburgh Castle
1. The castle is situated on the top of a volcano.
The last volcanic explosion occurred nearly 350 million years ago! There is plenty of archaeological evidence that proved life existed there before the explosions too.
The last explosion led to the creation of Castle Rock. The architects constructed the castle back in the 12th century. I mean, how optimistic were they to build a fort atop a volcano and hope it never erupts? Jokes aside, it is a bedazzling state of the art creation and stands as a symbol of the England-Scotland rivalry.
We will talk about the rivalry and seizure of Edinburgh Castle later.
2. The Castle is the most beleaguered place in all of Scotland.
This castle has probably seen innumerable hostile forces and has been seized almost 23 times! This is one of the most embattled forts in all of Europe.
Some of the most remarkable conflicts in Scottish history of the castle is as follows –
- Longshanks Siege of 1296: Edward I left the castle in ruins and plundered the city, shipping all the jewels and treasures to London
- Lang Siege- In this seize, the fort stood against the government forces, defending itself. This went on for almost two years, from 1571 to 1573. At last, the garrison went on to support Mary Queen of Scots.
- Jacobite Rising of 1745: Bonny Prince Charlie made a lot of attempts but failed to seize the castle.
These were some of the notorious instances that occurred in the Edinburgh Castle.
3. The Castle has the oldest building in Scotland.
St. Margaret’s Chapel, which resides in the same site, is one of the oldest buildings that still stand firm in Scotland.
The castle was built throughout a long period, and many of its buildings have been brutally plundered during different wars or when the fort has been seized.
St. Margaret’s Chapel was built back in the 12th century. Margaret was the spouse of Malcolm III, who was well known for her sanctity and purity and died of a broken heart just three days after the untimely death of Malcolm in the battlegrounds.
This was one of the very few structures that were left unaltered when Robert the Bruce seized and plundered the royal palace back in 1314.
4. The mystery of Scottish Crown Jewels.
The crown jewels are also known as the “Honours of Scotland”. The Crown, the Sceptre, and Sword of State make up of the Honours of Scotland. All these were used in the old days to coronate the new princes and kings.
There were a lot of other British regalias, but this pair was the only one that escaped from the hands of Oliver Cromwell. He eradicated the others.
Later after the Union of 1707, both England and Scotland were united under the same crown. The Honours of Scotland were kept in a safe, well hidden in the Edinburgh Castle after that.
This fact was completely obliterated from the minds of people. Almost a century later, in the 18th century, Sir Walter Scott unearthed the Honours. And they were brought back to light again for the ordinary folks to see.
During the World War, these were concealed again, for there was trepidation that these treasures might get into the hands of the Germans. Now, there is an arrangement for a public exhibit of these crown jewels of Scotland.
5. The Castle has a sinister presence.
It is said that the spirit of the Lone Piper still lingers around the several hundreds of passageways of the Edinburgh Castle. A young lad was remitted into the confidential hallways that were underneath the Edinburgh Castle. He was instructed to play his pipes.
This would help the experts to mark and pin down where the subterranean passages led. The piper drifted away from his course and strayed away from the passages.
No one ever heard from him again. Even to this day, there is a certain uncanny feeling when one goes down to the dungeons, and one can listen to the eerie, ghostly tunes of the pipe at nights.
There are more poignant stories of Edinburgh castle, but we will get to those later.
6. The old gun of Edinburgh castle
During the reign of Scottish monarchs, there were no iPhones, or Rolex watches found.
When ships crossed the Firth Of Forth, navigators and sailors looked forward to the Edinburgh Castle for the time. It was the duty of the castle to reveal the time by shooting for an 18- pound gun.
Navigators adjusted their chronometers and went on in their journey. This old wives’ tale is now a tradition that is still followed by the people of the castle.
7. The Castle acted as a residence to an elephant.
The 78th Highlanders came back to Edinburgh Castle from Sri Lanka. They had brought about an elephant along with them.
Being one of the major infantry barracks, the elephant lived with the comrades. The elephant was an ardent fan of beer and used to visit the canteen of the castle for a pint. You can find more of his signs in the National War Museum of Scotland.
8. KGB altered the Castle.
King Jame IV of Scotland was a bit paranoid about people going behind his back. He ruled during the 16th century and ordered for drilling holes in the wall to eavesdrop his courtesans. These were called ‘laird’s lugs,’ meaning ears of the king.
Later, when Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit to Edinburgh, KGB ordered all the holes to be cemented and bricked. One is never too old for espionage.
9. Innumerable prisoners of war.
Apart from holding 21 Pirates of the Caribbean, the Edinburgh Castle has also imprisoned several Americans during the War of Independence. The defiant carving of the American Flag in the dungeons of Edinburgh Fort remains as evidence of the fact.
10. A dog cemetery!
The canine companions of the battalions of Scotland hold a reserved and unique place in the fortress. The mascot of the Black Watch 42nd Highlanders, Jess, and Dobbler, who accompanied Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in their ventures throughout China, Sri Lanka, and South Africa- hold memorable places.
Their loyalty and compassion are noteworthy and have been given immense respect here by burying them right beside the soldiers who gave away their lives in the battles of Scotland.
The entrance to the cemetery grounds is respected but is visible from the Argyll battery above.
Though the facts are bewitching, the history of Edinburgh is bound to keep you engrossed in thoughts for the rest of your day!
A Turbulent Past
As conflicts continued between England and Scotland towards the end of the 12th century, Edinburgh and its castle became the focus of the invaders. It became obvious that whoever held the stronghold in their grasp, controlled the city of Edinburgh and consequently Scotland. The castle then earned the title of “the defender of the nation”.
When Robert the Bruce laid siege to Edinburgh Castle in 1314, he almost destroyed every building within the castle except for Margaret’s Chapel, which is now considered to be the oldest surviving building in Scotland.
England continuously tried to siege the castle and take hold of it one of those sieges was against Mary, Queen of Scots in 1573, which lasted for two full years. In 1650, the infamous Oliver Cromwell succeeded in his attempts to capture the castle, killing Charles I, the last monarch to rule Scotland from Edinburgh.
Afterwards, Edinburgh Castle was turned into a prison where thousands of military and political prisoners were held over the years from the Seven Years War, the American Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars.
Nowadays, millions of people from all over the world travel to Scotland to visit its numerous world heritage sites, entertaining music festivals, historical re-enactments and get to know its mysterious tales and legends.
Edinburgh Castle is known as the most haunted castle in the city, so it’s no surprise it has so many visitors year round.
Edinburgh Castle Opening Times:
Last Entry one hour before closing time.
A child ticket is for ages between 5 – 15. Concessions include the unemployed and over 60s.
Have you ever visited Edinburgh Castle? Comment below your experience and your favourite part of the Scottish Gem.