December 16, 2021
Thank you to all of those who responded to the poll I released a few weeks ago. The site with the most votes was the Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland. I plan to write about the other sites in the future and I released another poll to ask all of you which one you want to read about next. In the meantime, I will share with you all my experience visiting this Scottish castle.
Edinburgh Castle is one of the oldest fortified places in Europe and was used as a royal residence, military garrison, prison, and a fortress. Parts of it remain in military use while the rest of it is now a popular world-wide visitor attraction.
When I made a virtual visit to the Edinburgh Castle, I was surprised to discover that it was more than one large castle; there were also a chapel, a whiskey shop, tea rooms, et. cetera. Before I even entered the castle, I was already impressed with the architecture and the details that were on and inside. I decided to do a general walk around the castle with no specific plan and share some of the highlights from my visit.
I made my virtual walk around the area and noticed a small chapel known as St. Margaret’s Chapel. St. Margaret Chapel was named for Queen Margaret who was later made a saint. When Queen Margaret died in 1093, the chapel was built in her honor by her son, King David I. It is Edinburgh’s oldest building. St Margaret’s Chapel still hosts weddings and christenings today. Close to the chapel is the Portcullis Gate.
Portcullis Gate was built almost 450 years ago in the wake of the devastating Lang Siege that took place in 1571 when supporters of Queen Mary held the castle against the rule of the regent the Earl of Lennox (who supported the then infant King James VI). The Gate was erected by the Regent Morton in 1574. The building contains a long-vaulted trance, once furnished with two outer double doors, a portcullis and an inner double door that once sat alongside the iron gate to ward off intruders. The top floor, Argyle Tower, was added in the 1880s.
During my visit, I came across The Redcoat Café which offers a variety of things to eat and drink including but not limited to soups, roasts, toasted deli sandwiches, beer, wine, spirits, hot beverages, and soft drinks. I also went by the Tea Rooms located at the top of the castle in the Crown Square; they offer traditional afternoon tea as well as light lunch (soup, salad, sandwiches), cakes, hot cocoa, coffee, spirits, wine, beer, and ale. Next to St. Margaret’s Chapel is the Whisky Shop where visitors can purchase whisky that was created in collaboration with the award-winning Edinburgh Gin distillery. They have a huge range of whiskies including their exclusive Edinburgh Castle 10-year-old single malt, and sweet and savory treats including traditional shortbread, whisky fudge, and cakes. In addition to exploring the castle on my own, I also visited Edinburgh Castle’s website to learn more about it.
Edinburgh Castle was built upon a rock for a military strategic advantage during the Iron Age, and their defenses evolved over hundreds of years. For instance, Mons Meg, one of the greatest medieval cannons ever made, was given to King James II in 1457. The Half Moon Battery, which was built in the aftermath of the Lang Siege of 1573, was armed for 200 years by bronze guns known as the Seven Sisters. Six more guns defend the Argyle Battery, with its open outlook to the north.
In addition to serving as a military fort, Edinburgh Castle was also a royal residence. The Great Hall, that was completed in 1511 for King James IV, hosted grand banquets and state events. But the king had little time to enjoy his new addition. James IV died at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, fighting English forces sent by his brother-in-law, King Henry VIII of England. According to their website, they pointed out that above the door to the Royal Palace are the gilded initials MAH – for Mary Queen of Scots and her second husband Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley. Mary gave birth to James VI in the Royal Palace in 1566 who would become king of Scotland at 13 months old and united the crowns of Scotland and England in 1603. After the ‘Union of the Crowns’ of 1603, Edinburgh Castle was rarely visited by the reigning monarch, but from the 1650s it grew into a significant military base. Defenses were rebuilt and enhanced in response to the Jacobite Risings of 1689–1746. New gun batteries such as Dury’s Battery were constructed and new barracks such as the Queen Anne Building were added to house the many soldiers and officers. To learn more about Edinburgh Castle, I included a list of resources below.
Their website includes a number of resources to help people plan their visit, COVID restrictions, the history of the castle, et. cetera. I appreciate that they have a list of suggested itineraries based on interest and the amount of time one has to visit Edinburgh Castle. I would like to someday visit the castle in person as well, and in the meantime, I will make numerous virtual trips to keep exploring the many places within the castle.
The second poll to choose the next historic site is active. To decide which historic site you want to learn more about, click on the link here: https://wp.me/p8J8yQ-1xi
I’m on Buy Me a Coffee. If you like my work, you can buy me a coffee and share your thoughts. More information about additional benefits for supporting my work can be found here: https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/buy-me-a-coffee-page/
Edinburgh Castle website: https://www.edinburghcastle.scot/
Edinburgh Castle Virtual Tour with Us blog post: https://blog.edinburghcastle.scot/virtual-tour-with-us/