Monday, November 21, 2011

Edinburgh Castle

Sunday morning we headed out early to go to Edinburgh Castle and have the most time possible to visit this best-of-all castles we have visited.

Model of the castle

We took a bus across town and had to walk up the Royal Mile to reach the castle. We got to see some sights along the way to the front gate.

Lucy is a big girl!

Street view of a church turned to a festival center

Lucy, Auntie Rosemary, Jacob and Mommy

The gatehouse that lets people into the castle was built in 1888 and is flanked by statues of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace. We were excited to go in and see so many different things.

Many defenders before the official opening time

Almost immediately inside we came upon some of the guns on the Argyle Battery that protected the castle. Jacob was pretty excited about the guns.

Jacob wanted to take one home!

We did get accosted by a photographer who took our picture and gave us a number for buying pictures of ourselves on the way out. I'm happy to report that was the only Disneyesque part of being in the castle. We proceeded up the Lang Stairs to see St. Margaret's Chapel.

St. Margaret's Chapel was built in the 12th century by King David I as a private chapel dedicated to his mother, who died in the castle in 1093. It is small and charming and is the oldest building in Edinburgh.

Jacob and Lucy in the chapel

awesome stained glass!

The beautiful altar

Defending St. Margaret's Chapel is the famous medieval siege gun, Mons Meg. The gun was one of a pair of guns given to James II as a wedding gift. The gun weighs a ridiculous six tons and shoots gunstones weighing 330 lbs. It was used in wars with England for a while but eventually was used only as a saluting gun since it was so difficult to transport. In 1558 it fired a salute for Mary Queen of Scots' wedding. The gunstone was found almost 2 miles away. On 14 October 1681 it was fired for the last time when the barrel burst. The damage wasn't too bad and you can see some of the burst bands if you look closely (though not in my photos, sorry!).

Jacob: Wait, can I take THIS one home?

We also saw the Half-Moon Battery, where the guns for the Remembrance Day salute were stationed.

Below here is the ruins of David's Tower (named after the son of Robert the Bruce), which had some interesting cellars that we wandered through. Also, Jacob found the toilets there, which is always a highlight for him wherever he goes.

From here, we entered the Royal Palace where the Honours of Scotland are housed. The Honours are the crown, sceptre and sword of state for Scotland and are the oldest royal regalia in the UK. They were used for the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots and for many others. They were hidden from Cromwell and eventually locked away after the 1707 treaty uniting England and Scotland. In 1818 Walter Scott recovered them and they have been on display here for quite some time. Also, the Stone of Destiny is here, which had served as the seat for enthroning Scottish kings until Edward I removed it from Scone Abbey near Perth in 1296. It became a part of the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey for the English royalty. In 1996 it was returned to Scotland and will only ever leave if there is another coronation in Westminster. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed. Trust me, they were very impressive.

We also toured the Great Hall, which has very many displays of historical weapons. Why won't my wife let me decorate this way?

This is tasteful for a home, right?

We might have difficulty collecting enough swords for a display like this.

We went for a snack at the Red Coat Cafe. All the baked goods are made in the castle and the scones are quite good. While we were here, they fired the Remembrance Day cannons though we did not hear them. The castle is quite big and we didn't see many things, like the Scottish National War Memorial or the Prisons of War exhibit. The children's energy was flagging, so we headed back down the pathways and through the portcullis to find our bus and some lunch before nap time struck again.

No one had the energy to pose, so here are some strangers at the Portcullis Gate

The end of our Edinburgh trip was soon. More in a future post!

No comments:

Post a Comment