Stirling Castle

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On Saturday we drove up the M9 out of Edinburgh to the town of Stirling, the seat of the Royal House of Stuart. We arrived just before a huge crowd of tourists from Spain, I think. The first thing that caught my eye was a statue of Robert the Bruce.

Robert I (the Bruce) is a much beloved figure in Scottish history. It seems his portrayal in the film Braveheart was inaccurate.

Once inside the portcullis (big iron grate that comes down the castle’s front entrance), it looks like a nice open space surrounded by buildings, some of which are reconstructions based on historical research. There’s the Chapel Royal where the 6-day old Mary I, daughter of James V, was crowned. She is the same Mary Queen of Scots, who was queen consort to Francis II King of France until his death a year later. She then married Henry Stuart, her cousin, and was mother of James VI who succeeded Elizabeth I to the throne of England (as James I), thus beginning the Stuart line in England. Don’t worry. I had to look it up.

I really like those clear glass windows. They light up the room nicely, and you can see the mountains … (hint, hint). After leaving the Chapel Royal, the Great Hall was to its left, where the Royal Family feasted with their guests.

From there we entered the Royal Palace filled with symbols and trappings of privilege. The Stirling Heads were carved images of important people from the current reigning monarchs (James V & Mary of Guise) to ancient rulers (Julius Caesar), biblical figures and unidentified generic important persons … I can’t describe it otherwise. These are from the castle website.

Stirling Heads 01

These are my photos. The Stirling Heads are in the King’s Presence Chamber, and beyond that, the Queen’s chambers–presence chamber, bedchamber and closets.

From the Royal Palace, we head out to the wall walk and battlements. I took photos of the valley beyond the walls as well, to where the common people lived. Their version of barbed wire looked particularly lethal, so don’t attempt to scale the wall. And lastly, the Renaissance images of monsters and demons on the outside of the Royal Palace to ward off evil.

These are unicorns and lions sitting atop the Great Hall. The unicorn is a symbol of Scotland, the lion of England. Before the two kingdoms united, the Scottish Coat of Arms had two unicorns. Unicorns are believed to be natural enemies of lions. Hence, the unicorn is Scotland’s national animal.

The rest I took on our way out, capturing some final glimpses of a bygone age. I would never have been able to survive in the middle ages. First, I would be out of place with my brown skin. Then I am told everyone wore wool, and everything was always damp. Yuck.

Tomorrow, Edinburgh Castle.

Rolo B Castillo © 2016