An ancient monument, a huge visitor’s attraction, a gorgeous collection of grand halls as well as shadowy nooks and crannies, Stirling Castle is a castle-and-a-half for the Scotophile. Let’s take a peek inside and get a feel for the history and mystery of the place!
An adult ticket is a steep £13.00 (free for Historic Scotland Members), but it’s surely worthwhile to visit one of Scotland’s most popular castles and a place where history “comes alive” (check out their fabulous website)! As it is perched high on a volcanic outcrop, the first thing you might notice is that Stirling Castle has spectacular views, similar to Edinburgh’s great castle, but Stirling has been described as more “atmospheric” than the former.
|Goodby to Stirling Castle, a photo by walla2chick on Flickr.|
That atmosphere surrounds a melodramatic saga of blood and destiny. If “He who holds Stirling holds Scotland” was true, then it was certainly vital to possess the castle of Stirling; it has been besieged so often that these battles have their own Wikipedia page. This is where James II murdered the Earl of Douglas, it was the childhood home of the legendary Mary Queen of Scots and was also the site of her coronation. From the Stuart’s royal residence to a military fortress, this is where you can hear the echoes of voices you first heard in your high school history textbook–from King David I to Bonnie Prince Charlie.
|Stirling Castle’s Great Hall, a photo by Jani Helle on Flickr.|
Moving on to the King’s Old Building, perched like an ancient sentinel atop its sheer rock wall, we find that it is the oldest part of the inner close and now houses the Regimental Museum of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, an infantry battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. Rebuilt after a serious fire in the 19th century, it has not been restored to its original design like the Palace or Great Hall.
|Stirling Castle kitchen, a photo by davidmunro on Flickr.|
Outside once more we stroll along the Wall-Walk, running our fingers over the cool mossy stones and admiring the vast scenery, trying to imagine the soldiers who once walked in our footsteps, ready to fire their weapons down upon an invading horde.
|Cannons at Stirling Castle, a photo by sparklingbizzy on Flickr.|
At another point along the crenelated wall one can see the Wallace Monument in all its imposing stolidity, a striking reminder of Scotland’s great hero (Have you ever watched the movie Braveheart and questioned its historical accuracy? Check out my blog post on the topic.).
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