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Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle


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Edinburgh Castle, towering atop Castle Rock, has served Scotland for centuries, at one time or another acting as a fortress, royal residence, seat of government, armoury, and prison. The scene of countless sieges, royal births and deaths, murderous intrigues, and military displays, Edinburgh castle has long been a symbol of Scottish history and national pride. Today, the castle is open to the public who can see such sights as the Stone of Scone, the Scottish royal regalia known as the Honours, the National War Museum, the National War Memorial, and such famous giant medieval cannons as Mons Megs. The most popular tourist attraction in Scotland, the castle, together with the city of Edinburgh, is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Early History

Perched on a volcanic rocky outcrop with sheer cliffs on three sides, Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline of the capital city of Scotland. Occupation of the site stretches back to the Bronze Age, and archaeological excavations have revealed the cliff top was artificially levelled c. 900 BCE. In the 1st and 2nd century CE, during the Iron Age, the site hosted a hilltop fort typical of that period. This fort was probably the capital of the Votadini tribe. The fort, mostly composed of timber and earthworks, had an entrance protected by two huge ditches. Buildings within the fort were also made of timber and many had stone floors and hearths. There is also evidence of a stone drainage system at the site. Trade between the Votadini and the Romans in southern and central Britain is evidenced by finds of imported jewellery.

The fort was known as Din Eidyn, a name later anglicised to Edinburgh.

The castle first appears in literature in the early 7th century CE collection of poetic verses known as The Gododdin. At this time it was the site of a fortification built by the tribe of the same name, who then controlled parts of southern Scotland and Northern England. The fort was known as Din Eidyn, a name later anglicised to Edinburgh after the Angles conquered the Gododdin and took possession of it. Continuing as a fortress into the early Middle Ages, unfortunately, no parts of the castle or fortifications prior to the 11th century CE remain, and there are only a few relics belonging to the people who once dwelt there.

The Medieval Castle

Saint Margaret of Scotland (c. 1046-1093) was, as the second wife of Malcolm III (r. 1058-1093), the queen of Scotland from 1070 until her death in November 1093. Her reign and contribution to the spread of Roman Catholicism in her kingdom were commemorated in the Norman chapel built at Edinburgh Castle, today the oldest original part of the fortress. The private chapel was most likely built around 1130 by Margaret’s son David I of Scotland (r. 1124-1153). David had embarked on a building spree of many castles in Scotland, among which was Edinburgh Castle where he likely built a Norman-style castle keep.

Despite its formidable appearance on a mighty rock and relative self-sufficiency in water, thanks to the Fore Well, the castle proved something of a disappointment when it came to sieges. Following the capture of William I of Scotland (r. 1165-1214), the English took control of the castle between 1174 and 1186. The castle was regained but, in 1296, Edward I of England (r. 1272-1307) managed to gain entry after only a three-day siege. Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray took back control of the castle from the English garrison there in 1314 during the struggle to establish the Bruces as the royal house of Scotland.

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‘David’s Tower’ was once 30 metres high & the location of the royal chambers for a century or so after its completion in the mid-1370s CE.

Robert the Bruce (r. 1306-1329), no doubt unimpressed with the fortresses’ record, then demolished the castle right down to its foundations in 1314, chiefly as a sure means to ensure the English never made use of it if they ever captured the rock again. An English force did indeed capture the citadel in 1335, and they began to rebuild the castle. However, a small Scottish force led by Sir William Douglas masqueraded as merchants and recaptured the castle for Scotland in 1341.

A new royal castle became the great project of Robert the Bruce’s son and successor, David II of Scotland (r. 1329-1371). David added a massive new tower, inspired perhaps by a similar new addition to Windsor Castle in England. ‘David’s Tower’, as it became known, was once 30 metres (100 ft) high and was the location of the royal chambers for a century or so after its completion in the mid-1370s CE. James I of Scotland (r. 1406-1437) added another tower just behind David’s Tower towards the end of his reign, which contained a large hall purpose-built for banquets. Ultimately, this ‘Great Chamber’ replaced the royal chambers in David’s Tower. It was either the Great Chamber of James I’s tower or the Great Hall of David’s Tower that hosted one of the castle’s most infamous episodes in 1440, the so-called 'Black Dinner'. This meal occurred when the entourage of the young James II of Scotland (r. 1437-1460 CE) hosted the two young heirs of the powerful Douglas clan. The Douglas boys were invited to dinner cordially enough but on the evening in question were presented with a bull’s head on a platter. This was a sign for the boys to be taken away and executed.

Not very much remains of any of these medieval additions to the castle and most of the buildings today date to the reign of James IV of Scotland (r. 1488-1513). David’s Tower, for example, collapsed during a siege, and its ruins are now completely covered by the Half Moon Battery. The Crown Square (formerly known as the Grand Parade and located near the former site of David’s Tower) had been created by James III of Scotland (r. 1460-1488) and does still survive as a courtyard which became the symbolic heart of the royal domestic quarters at the castle along the lines of the contemporary royal residences of continental Europe. The great medieval fortress had finally begun its transformation into a palace.

The Early Modern Castle

James IV used the castle as a royal residence, but its role as a fortress was not completely forgotten, the king utilising it as a repository of the kingdom’s artillery pieces. King James also added a new Great Hall to the castle (completed c. 1510), and this then hosted the Scottish parliament. The Great Hall endured a checkered history over the centuries, high points being its use for state banquets while low points were its use as a military barracks and then hospital in the 19th century. The ceiling seen in the hall today is the late medieval original, analysis having shown that the oak beams originally came from forests in Norway c. 1510. The Royal Palace of the Crown Square was now complete and was the location of the castle’s first and last royal birth, that of future James VI of Scotland (aka James I of England, r. 1603-1625) on 19 June 1566 CE.

The castle once again failed to hold secure during a four-day siege in 1573 when an English army with cannons bombarded the supporters of the deposed Mary, Queen of Scots (r. 1542-1567) into a quick submission. Following the siege, a massive semi-circular battery, the Half Moon Battery, was added to the castle’s defences on the eastern side. The Battery boasted a group of bronze cannons known as the ‘Seven Sisters’. This addition typified the castle’s primary role as a fortress, monarchs now preferring to reside instead at the more comfortable Holyroodhouse Palace, also in the capital. Edinburgh Castle was used as a residence by some state officials, and it became the home of the national archives, an arsenal, and occasional prison.

The revamped castle was indeed now more of a challenge for attackers, as shown by the lengthy sieges of 1640 during the Wars of the Covenant and in 1650 by Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658). During the remainder of the 17th and right through the 18th century, the castle became a military barracks - St. Margaret’s chapel was even used to store artillery ammunition - and a camp for prisoners of war such as during the Jacobite rebellion (1745-1746) and the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), amongst other conflicts. Over the years, the prison’s inmates became increasingly international and ranged from pirates of the Caribbean to Americans captured during the War of Independence (1775-1783). In 1842 the Military Prison was built for disobedient soldiers from the castle’s own barracks; imaginative punishments included carrying cannonballs from one part of the prison compound to another. There was also a military hospital.

In the early decades of the 19th century, the castle benefitted from a large new parade ground, known as the Esplanade, which reformed the 1753 parade ground and covered the former site of public executions known as Castle Hill. This open space now hosts the world-famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo every August. Further remodelling took place, notably on the gatehouses and the Great Hall in the last quarter of the 19th century as part of a new process of rising Scottish national pride, a trend further evidenced in the construction of a Scottish National War Memorial on the rock in 1927, an appropriate enough spot considering the castle had itself been subject to a Zeppelin bombing raid during the First World War (1914-1918).

The Castle Today

Edinburgh Castle today is, with well over one million annual visitors, Scotland’s most popular tourist destination. Besides being an impressive monument in itself with every stone steeped in history, the castle is also the home of the National War Museum and three regimental museums. As part of the city of Edinburgh, the castle is designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, an honour awarded in 1995.

The castle’s main gates are on the east side, the only accessible side of the rocky plateau, and were built in 1888 to replace a much older structure. Dating to the 1570s (after the 1573 siege mentioned above), the second set of gates one walks through includes a portcullis and was once reinforced with three additional pairs of wooden doors. The top of this structure, Argyle Tower, was added in 1887. An additional inner gate is Foog’s Gate, which dates to the latter part of the 17th century CE. Just after the portcullis gate is a flight of 70 stone steps, the Lang Stairs, and these lead to the heart of the castle. A less-fatiguing route is the cobbled roadway straight ahead, built in the 17th century to allow mighty cannons to be drawn into the castle.

The Governor’s House is a 1742 building in the Georgian style and official residence of the governor who acts as the Commander of the Army in Scotland. The New Barracks, completed in 1799, functions as a military barracks and hosts the Regimental Museum of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. The nearby Drill Hall contains the Museum of the Royal Scots and the Royal Regiment of Scotland. Finally, one of the more curious corners of the castle is the dog cemetery. This was created in the 1840s and reserved for faithful four-legged companions of soldiers in the barracks and regimental mascots like Dobbler (d. 1893), who accompanied the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to South Africa, Sri Lanka, and China during his nine years of active service.

This greatest of Scottish castles contains many historically important objects, and chief amongst these is the Stone of Scone. Also known as the Stone of Destiny, the block of sandstone was associated with the coronations of medieval Scottish kings at Scone Abbey on the island of Scone in Perthshire. Legend has it that only where the stone resides will Scottish kings rule. Removed from Scotland by Edward I of England in 1296 in a deliberate act of political propaganda, the stone was finally returned to the Scottish people in 1996.

Alongside the Stone of Scone in the Crown Room of the castle are the items of the Scottish royal regalia collectively known as the Honours. These items date to the 16th century and consist of a crown, sceptre, and sword of state. They were first used together in the coronation of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1543 in Stirling Castle. Moved to various locations and then locked in a chest in a sealed room in the castle during Scotland’s troubled history with England, the Crown Jewels were rediscovered by the great novelist and historian Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) in 1818. The magnificent regalia had not been seen by anyone for over a century but was soon put on public display in the Crown Room where they remain today. Over the years, more jewels have been added to enrich the collection, and these include the Stewart Jewels with the large ruby ring said to have been worn by Charles I of England (r. 1625-1649) during his coronation in Westminster Abbey.

The famous Mons Meg cannon now resides at Edinburgh Castle, an artillery piece built in the mid-15th century CE, possibly for James II of Scotland. The massive cannon weighs six tonnes and once fired cannonballs 48 cm (19 in) in diameter over a distance of 3.2 km (2 miles). Taken to the Tower of London in 1754, Mons Meg was given the honour of a full military escort and returned to Edinburgh Castle in 1829. Another cannon, more famous for its sound across the city than its appearance, is the One O’clock Gun, which is fired each day at 1 pm (except Sundays), a tradition that began in 1861 as a navigational aid to passing ships.


The Legends and Mysteries Surrounding Edinburgh Castle

One night in August a few centuries ago, a fiery-redheaded, freckled, scraggly looking chap wearing a tartan kilt his father had given him, worn out shabby shoes that most likely belonged to his great-grandfather, and a bagpipe strapped around his thin body was sent down a secret tunnel to see where it lead.

A whole web of underground tunnels was discovered beneath the Royal Mile, the downhill street that connects Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace in the city of Edinburgh, formerly known as Dunedin, or Athens of the North as some called it due to its resemblance to the city of Gods in Greece.

The boy was to walk into the tunnel near the top of the Royal Mile, playing a tune as he walked deep underground. It was thought he would exit from the other side — wherever that might be. His progress would be charted by people on the ground, aided by the sound of his music. That was the plan at least.

A view of Edinburgh, Scotland, as seen from Calton Hill – July 13, 2017. In the image Edinburgh Castle can be seen on top of the hill in which the Old Town of the Scottish capital is located.

But then, halfway along the Mile, the music suddenly stopped. They called out the boy’s name, but no one answered. They combed the tunnel — venturing as far as they dared — looking for him. He was nowhere to be found. There was no trace of him nor of his skinny body and the bagpipes he was playing. The boy was gone, and nobody knew why.

Hundreds of years have passed since and each August the Edinburgh Military Tattoo event takes place in the city. At the very end, after all the traditional kilt parades of the Scottish regiment, and all the songs played by hundreds of drummers and even more so bagpipers, one piper, standing alone and spotlighted high on the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle plays a mournful tune on his pipes.

The 2011 Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Photo: LA(Phot) Sally Stimson/MOD

There have been strange reports about a melody heard inside the Castle’s chambers that seems to come out of nowhere. Some people say they have heard it while walking down the Royal Mile. Local legend tells that this is the crying song of a lost soul whose ghost, eternally wandering the tunnels underneath the city, continues to play his bagpipes looking for a way out.

So perhaps the lone piper plays the mournful tune every year in memory of the lost boy. Or, if not for him, then surely for all those who lost their lives inside or in front of the walls trying to defend or take over Scotland’s greatest stronghold.

The castle has become a recognizable symbol of Edinburgh, and of Scotland. Photo by :Andrea Vail CC by 2.0

Rarely is there a place on the planet that can match the long-lasting and colorful history of Edinburgh Castle — which, perched on top of the leftovers of an ancient extinct volcano, governs the city’s skyline brimming with tales and legends of bygone days.

The Great Hall, Edinburgh Castle Restored to former glory, although it has been used as barracks on more than one occasion in its history. Photo by Mike Pennington CC BY-SA 2.0

The castle sits atop Castle Rock, a volcanic plug that was formed 350 million years ago and served as an early human settlement in the Bronze Age. Excavations carried out in 1990s showed evidence of habitation with archaeologists dating that the Bronze Age tools they discovered date from as early as 850 BC.

Archaeological evidence indicates the site these people lived at was known as “Aluana” or “rock place,” and due to its natural fortification, Castle Rock has been a settlement and military base ever since — a claim that makes it the longest continually inhabited area in the country.

The castle is built on a volcanic rock, as seen here from the West Port area Photo by Kim Traynor CC BY-SA 3.0

It is a place so old that by the time that a castle was first officially mentioned in historical literature, its name and founding were already shrouded in myth and legends.

The first is tied to the famous Arthurian legends, or more specifically to the pages of the medieval Welsh epic poem Y Gododdin. According to this valuable piece of literature from around the 7th century AD, a fortress named “The Castle of the Maidens” served as a sanctuary to the “Nine Maidens” — of whom, one was the mighty enchantress Morgan le Fay, King Arthur’s devoted protector.

A telephoto shot of Edinburgh Castle against a beautiful blue sky, Scotland, UK.

Another document, but this time not of Welsh but of Scottish origin, the Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland written by Andrew of Wyntoun, suggests that in earlier times a fortification named “Maiden’s Castle” was raised by Ebraucus, King of the Britons.

8 Oldest Castles From Around The World

However, Edinburgh Castle, the imposing edifice we know today, dates from the 12th century when David I, the son of Saint Margaret of Scotland first raised (at least officially) a castle on Castle Rock in loving memory of his mother.

The story goes that in 1070 AD, the Scottish King Malcolm III married an English princess who, due to her fairness and generous nature, came to be known as Saint Margaret of Scotland, earning a reputation as “The Pearl of Scotland.”

Malcolm and Margaret as depicted in a 16th-century armorial.

Her husband died in battle and she, grief-stricken and heartbroken, died within days after hearing the news. Her son David I constructed the grand castle on Castle Rock and a marvelous chapel to honor her.

Tensions grew between England and Scotland by the end of the 12th century, and it seems as if monarchs and nobles nearly always focused on Edinburgh and the city’s castle. He who held it controlled the city of Edinburgh and, with that, Scotland.

So over time, it earned the right to be referred to as “the defender of the nation,” and for the very same reason it repeatedly came under siege. The first significant battle was in the late 13th century when Edward Longshanks (Edward I of England) tried to capture the castle and seize the Scottish throne. It was just the start though.

Detail from a contemporary drawing of Edinburgh Castle under siege in 1573, showing it surrounded by attacking batteries.

Throughout its extensive history, Edinburgh Castle has been attacked, besieged and invaded 23 times — more than any place in Britain or any other castle in the world. Half of these battles took place during a short period of 50 years when the castle went back and forth between Scottish and English hands during the Wars of Independence (1296-1341), in the course of which Edinburgh Castle was almost entirely destroyed.

St. Margaret’s Chapel of Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland.

When Robert the Bruce laid siege in 1314, he destroyed every building except one: Margaret’s Chapel, which still stands intact today and is the oldest surviving building in Scotland.

A late-16th century depiction of the castle, from Braun & Hogenberg’s ‘Civitates Orbis Terrarum,’ showing David’s Tower at the center.

Repairs to the castle were conducted by David II of Scotland in the 14th century. But Edinburgh, the castle, and the Scottish people were not to be left to rest.

England tried to recapture “the defender of the nation” and the nation itself on more than one occasion, laying siege after siege on the castle one of them against Mary, Queen of Scots in 1573, lasted for full two years.

Edinburgh Castle as it may have looked before the Lang Siege of 1571-73, with David’s Tower and the Palace block, center and left.

In 1650 Oliver Cromwell succeed in his attempts to capture the castle, killing Charles I, the last Scottish monarch to sit on the throne in Edinburgh.

From then on the castle lost its status. Instead of being a defender of a nation it was turned into a prison where thousands of military and political prisoners from the Seven Years War, the American Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars were held. Perhaps they heard a mysterious bagpipe melody in the darkens of the dungeons that left them questioning whether they are slowly but surely losing their minds.

The splendid capital of Scotland today is UK’s second most visited city (the first being London of course), and millions of people from all over the world travel there to see its numerous world heritage sites, beautiful music festivals, historical re-enactments and all kinds of peculiar places that tell tales of ghosts, monsters or a legendary folk heroes.

Edinburgh Castle holds the reputation as the most haunted and the most visited one in the city. And with such history and so many legends attached to it, it is no surprise.

For what is worth, a bagpipe melody can always be heard on the streets in Edinburgh. Is coming from a long-lost boy somewhere deep below the streets, or from just around the corner? The only way to know is to check it out for yourself. For if one is looking for magic, the city and its grand castle are as magical and legendary as a place can ever get.

Martin Chalakoski is a freelance writer drawn to history and fascinated by oddities. He has contributed to the Abandoned Spaces and is steadily contributing to The Vintage News.


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!


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.


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.


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.

Ticket Prices:

Gate Prices:

Online Prices

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.


Edinburgh Castle to transform into ‘Castle of Light’

History is set to come to life at Edinburgh Castle this winter, as the iconic landmark is illuminated with tales from Scotland’s past.

The mesmerising 90-minute journey of light, sound and wonder, entitled Castle of Light, will treat guests to an evening of dazzling animations, never seen before at the castle in its 900 year history. Running over six weeks throughout the festive season, from Thursday 14 November to Sunday 22 December, the castle will be transformed using state-of-the-art projections and enchanting storytelling.

9-year-old Erin Kempton took to the castle to enjoy a sneak preview of what’s in store as Castle of Light was officially launched, with early bird tickets on sale from 9.30am tomorrow morning (Tuesday 3 September).

The countdown is now on to the event which will be the biggest light experience to hit the city centre, bringing together a consortium of the finest digital and visual talent in Scotland to create a truly immersive experience which will captivate locals and visitors alike every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Gillian Macdonald, Head of Business Development at Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which operates Edinburgh Castle, said: “Castle of Light invites visitors to watch the history of this iconic landmark come to life as it illuminates the very walls that saw it unfold.

“Using state-of-the-art projections to create a truly wonderful, immersive lighting adventure, this is sure to be a magical experience for all the family and we can’t wait for everyone to enjoy it."

Double Take Projections, NL Productions, Andy McGregor Design and War Productions Ltd are working together, in partnership with HES, to create an innovative illuminated walking tour, with timed entries between 5.30pm and 8.30pm.

Among them, the group have provided projection lightshows around the globe from The Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry to Sydney Opera House via the Forth Bridges and Blackpool Tower. The creation of this world class event, hosted in their home city, within such an iconic building, will be a truly unique experience.

Andy McGregor, Creative Director of Castle of Light, said:

“I grew up by the Meadows in the shadow of this rock but I'm now seeing the Castle with fresh eyes. As a team, we will be drawing on the history, geology, mythology and the sheer drama of the site to conjure a spectacle that we hope will excite, entertain and enlighten audiences of all ages and backgrounds. To a certain extent, it is like being given a set of (very big) keys to a (a very big) toy shop – but with rather more responsibility! - and we are thrilled to be involved in such an exciting project for this national treasure.”

Tickets for the Capital’s first light spectacular, set within the historic walls of Edinburgh Castle, go on sale tomorrow, Tuesday 3 September, from 9.30am with special early bird rates available for September. Tickets will also be available for an ‘Access’ night taking place on Monday 2 December for people with additional support needs.

Standard tickets cost £20 (concessions, family tickets and discounts for Historic Scotland members available). F

About Castle of Light

Dates: Castle of Light will run every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Thursday 14 November to Sunday 22 December, excluding Thursday 28 November. In addition to these dates, a special ‘access’ night will be held on Monday 2 December, for guests with additional support needs.

Time: Timed entry from 5.30pm to 8.30pm. Event closes at 10pm. HES suggest that you allow around 90 minutes to fully experience the show.

Early bird rates (for September only)
Adult (16-59yrs) £18 Concessions (60yrs+) £14.40 Child (5-5yrs - must be accompanied by an adult) £10.80.

Standard
Adult (16-59yrs) £20 Concessions (60yrs+) £16 Child (5-5yrs - must be accompanied by an adult) £12.

Castle of Light Consortium Partners

War Productions Limited
War Productions Limited have been trading since 1989 and has a strong focus towards the artistic use of digital video. Beginning as a lighting company, WarPro’s creative bent shifted towards the use of live projection in the very early days of the technology as production company for Orbital, Aphex Twin, Shamen and more. WarPro have specialized more and more in the creative use of projection for an ever growing commercial and artistic client base

Double Take Productions
Double Take Projections Ltd is an innovative Scottish design consultancy specialising in creating immersive visual experiences using a technique called Projection Mapping. They are a bespoke company, creating unique one-off spectacles, and able to radically alter the character of an environment or object by projecting from different angles onto a variety of surfaces.
Double Take have years of experience of producing and designing some of Scotland’s biggest Light shows. Double Take are a one stop shop for projection activity, designing content, designing social content and marketing material.

NL Productions
NL Productions is a creative event production company based in Leith with more than forty years’ experience in the industry.
Over the years, NLP has built up a large number of professional relationships across a wide variety of industries based on trust, reliability and a high standard of communication and project management.

Andy McGregor
Andy McGregor has over 25 years’ experience as a multimedia artist, designer and creative director. He was a founder member of the art / dance music & performance group Fini Tribe and pursued this alongside a degree at Glasgow School of Art. In the late 80’s he began working in digital media and enrolled in the post graduate electronic imaging course in Dundee. He has consistently worked at the boundaries of design, art, technology and performance. He has produced work for high profile organisations such as The National Galleries of Scotland, Historic Scotland, Glasgow Life, Venice Theatre Biennale, Edinburgh International Science Festival, Harper Collins Publishing UK, The Queen’s Gallery at Holyrood House and Drambuie Distillers.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

  • We are the lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. We will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland, Scran, Canmore, The National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP), The Engine Shed, Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle are sub-brands of HES.
  • View our press pack and keep up to date by registering for media release email alerts. If you wish to unsubscribe, please contact us.

Follow Historic Environment Scotland

For press information, please contact:

Heather Marston / Lisa Fox Bennett
3x1 Group
Tel: 0131 225 7700
[email protected] / [email protected]


Ghosts of Edinburgh Castle Scotland's haunted fortress on the hill

Visitors near and far stand in awe of this ancient fortress atop Castle Rock, a towering land formation created from a volcanic plug. The craggy peak has been inhabited since the Bronze Age (900 BC), while records indicate Edinburgh Castle has been in existence since 600 AD. In the epic Welsh poem Y Gododdin, a work that dates back to anywhere between the 7 th and early 11 th centuries, are references to Din Eidiyn, the stronghold of Edinburgh.

The ancient citadel has since seen its share of sieges, attacks, military occupations, and royal residents. With its history of upheaval, it’s no wonder Edinburgh Castle has been regarded as the most haunted location in Scotland.

Tortured souls from centuries ago reportedly still linger in the castle’s many halls, chambers, and dungeons. Those who wander these passages today report strange sensations such as a sudden drop in temperature and feelings of being watched. Some experience unexplained sounds, a ghostly touch across the face and burning on the arm, or a tugging on one’s clothing. Photographs snapped at the site reveal patches of fog, sometimes colored green.

Such supernatural encounters led a team of nine paranormal researchers to investigate the Scottish castle in 2001. Along with 200 carefully chosen participants—none of whom had prior knowledge of its haunted lore—the team delved into every nook and cranny and reported on what they saw. The verdict? More than half encountered paranormal activity in areas already known to be haunted.

What spirits could be behind this otherworldly activity? For that, we must take a trip through Edinburgh Castle’s haunting past.

The castle’s dungeon has a high degree of paranormal activity. Countless prisoners have been locked up in its cells, suffering torture, malnourishment, and death. More than 500 French prisoners were held here during the Seven Years War and later American colonial captives from the American Revolutionary War.

Many have been lost to time, but one inmate’s tale lives on. A prisoner desperate to escape buried himself in a dung barrow. He made it past the guards, only to meet his death as the barrow’s contents were dumped down the steep, rocky slope of Castle Rock. He makes himself known by trying to push you off the battlements and emanating a strong scent of dung.

The tragic end of one royal captive lives on as well. During the 16th century, Lady Janet Douglas or Lady Glamis was wrongfully accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake as her 16-year-old son watched in horror. She was happily married to the 6th Lord of Glamis until his death in 1528. Alas, King James V considered the Glamis family a threat to his power. Once her husband passed, King James accused Lady Glamis of poisoning him. He tortured and forced false confessions out of her servants and family, seized Glamis Castle (once Queen Elizabeth’s childhood home) and sent her to the castle dungeons to await her execution. She was nearly blind from the subterranean darkness by the time guards brought her to the stake. Hollow knocking can be heard late at night, which some say are the sounds of workers constructing the platform where Lady Glamis was burned alive.

Another hotbed of activity is the Royal Mile, a busy succession of streets that lead through the Old Town to Edinburgh Castle. Below the Royal Mile are underground caverns, unearthed by townsfolk several hundred years ago. A piper playing bagpipes was instructed to explore the tunnels that stretched from High Street to Holyrood House, a place of Scottish royal residence for the likes of Mary, Queen of Scots. He played a tune as he moved deeper into the caves so that others could mark his progress from above.

Then, at about the half-way point, the music abruptly stopped. A rescue party went in to look for the piper, but they found not a trace. If you listen closely while in Edinburgh Castle, you may hear his lonely bagpipes playing from the street above or within the fortress walls.

In addition to these haunting tales, are a bevy of lesser-known spectral figures wandering the castle grounds. Legends tell of a headless drummer from the 17 th century who taps upon his snare. The ghostly outline of a man in a leather apron has been seen walking through a doorway in one of the castle’s haunted vaults. Even canines can’t rest easy here. Just beyond the castle entrance, visitors have seen a black hound with a misty glow around it. The dog is believed to be buried in the pet cemetery by the Army Garrison.

The paranormal tales surrounding Edinburgh Castle go on and on. The deeper one wanders down its stone corridors, the more ghosts you’re bound to meet.


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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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    Edinburgh Castle History

    King James VI of Scotland (James 1 of England upon the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603) was born in the castle by Mary, Queen of Scots. The ancient Honours of Scotland – the Crown, the Sceptre and the Sword of State – are viewable in the Crown Room the ‘infamous’ Stone of Destiny has also been kept here at the castle.

    The Scottish National War Memorial, designed by Lorimer, built shortly after World War One is another highlight in the castle. Edinburgh Castle is also the home of the One O’Clock Gun. This is fired every day except Sunday at precisely 1pm, a wonderful city institution, a reminder to break for lunch.

    The Edinburgh Castle Esplanade hosts annually the world-famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo over a three-week period in August. The Scottish Army & various guests present music, marching and historical reenactments under floodlights.

    The oldest building at Edinburgh Castle is St Margaret’s Chapel (above), which survived various sieges due to its religious significance: it was probably requested by King David, following his mother’s (Queen Margaret, d.1093) death at this site. Members of Edinburgh Castle garrison still have the right to marry in the Chapel building.

    Edinburgh Castle sits on the volcanic rock – the ‘crag’ of glacial ‘crag and tail’ – with the tail being the Royal Mile tapering mound which falls down to Holyroodhouse. Fronting the Castle is a gently sloping rectilinear space called the Castle Esplanade. This is a good viewing point for the city.

    There is evidence of human habitation on the Castle Rock – 135m above sea level – as far back as the Bronze Age. The early fort was called Din Eidyn, and was occupied by the Votadini, a local Celtic tribe. The Votadini were also present at another settlement on another volcanic rock, Traprain Law, just east of Haddington.

    In 1174 to 1186 Edinburgh Castle was given to the English by King William the Lion with four other Scottish castles as security for his ransom. During the Wars of Independence (1296 – 1342) the Castle changed hands four times.
    Robert the Bruce won Edinburgh Castle back from the English in 1314. Edward III of England built a new castle in 1335 but held it only until 1341.

    Facilities
    Edinburgh Castle Restaurant – Mills Mount with self & table service
    open 7 days a week
    last ticket sold 45 mins before closing

    Opening times
    check times: 0131 225 9846
    1st Apr to Oct 31st
    9.30am until 6pm, last admission 5.15pm
    1st Nov to Mar 31st
    9.30am until 5pm, last admission 4.15pm
    Christmas Day & Boxing Day
    Castle closed
    1st Jan
    11am until 5pm

    Prices (current Nov 2005)
    Adult £9.80 Child £3.50 Concessions £7.50

    Mills Mount Cafe, Edinburgh Castle
    Mon-Sun. 9.15am – 5.15pm – contact: jane.mackenzie(at)sodexho.co.uk
    Edinburgh Castle building: please check with owners for details re access & charge

    Contact Edinburgh Castle +44 (0)131 225 9846

    View of the scottish capital looking east from Edinburgh Castle:

    photo © AW

    Military Tattoo

    The Edinburgh Tattoo is a major Scottish event which is popular all over the world. Tattoo webcam: www.outdoorexplorer.co.uk/tattoo

    There has been a proposal to relocate the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in the west part of Princes Street Gardens, below Edinburgh Castle.

    The structurally-expressive temporary stand – erected annually – on the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade is reportedly insufficient for current needs. The Military Tattoo takes place in front of the castle every Edinburgh Festival for three weeks.

    In the mid-eighties Morris and Steedman (Architects) were commissioned to produce detailed plans for a 10,000 seat Edinburgh Tattoo arena ‘below’ Edinburgh Castle, unveiled in 1989 to much controversy. Princes Street Gardens are protected but limited building work has been undertaken latterly as part of the RSA’s Playfair Project. Morris and Steedman’s Tattoo Arena was apparently influenced by the Acropolis parti in Athens.

    The Edinburgh Tattoo began in 1950 at Edinburgh Castle and sells around 200,000 tickets per annum and is watched by approximately one million people on TV. The Edinburgh Tattoo is highly iconic and rooted in Highland traditions, yet the structure is vividly modern, its cantilevering metal spaceframe contrasting with the worn stone context.

    Although it is temporary, for many visitors (ie for the Festival or typically every Summer) the Edinburgh Tattoo is always there and thus a fascinating modern intervention in the absolute heart of the City at the head of the Old Town’s royal axis and high above the city so massively visible: it shouts ‘the Festival has started’.

    Image above from the Castle Esplanade showing Earl Haig with, beyond, Ramsay Gardens on left, and the Hub on the right.

    Edinburgh Castle Contact e-mail: hs.explorer(at)scotland.gsi.gov.uk

    Edinburgh Castle Ticket Office

    Scottish Castles : Structures in Edinburgh & Lothian

    A poular shopping destination in the capital: Jenners department store

    Edinburgh Castle context : Outlook Tower – Camera Obscura

    No larger images of the castle:

    images © AW

    The lighting at Mills Mount Restaurant is by Jonathan Speirs (of Speirs and Major), designed in conjunction with Hugh Broughton Architects

    Comments / photos for the Edinburgh Castle Scotland – Historic Scottish Architecture page welcome


    Watch the video: Mike Oldfield- Tattoo Live At Edinburgh Castle, 1992 (May 2022).