Edinburgh Castle is one of the most famous and most visited tourist attractions in Scotland, UK. The castle is the crown jewel of Edinburg that dominates the city’s skyline. The castle is located on the famous Castle Rock which resulted in a volcanic eruption many millenniums ago and it elevates the castle’s importance in the capital city of Scotland. The Castle Rock is famous for being the choice of the castle and royal residences since the 12th century. There is evidence of human presence on the rock since 2nd century AD.
The castle used to be the symbol of power and who controlled the castle also had control over the Scotland. The Edinburgh Castle history is filled with conflicts between England and Scotland for hundreds of years. By 17th century the Edinburgh Castle was majorly used as a military barrack with a large garrison. It is claimed that Edinburg castle is the most besieged site in Scotland and one of the most attacked places in the world. That is also the reason this castle has gone through a lot of restoration works and only a few exceptions are left in the castle which are as old as the 12th century.
13 Things to do in Edinburg Castle Scotland
Honours of Scotland (Crown Jewels)
The Honours of Scotland include the crown, the sword, the scepter, and the Stone of Destiny upon which the monarchs stood during their coronations. These jewels are displayed in the Crown Room and are claimed to be the oldest crown jewels of Britain. These jewels are made of Gold, Silver and precious gems and have an immense significance in the castle.
As the castle had been attacked several times in the history, hence the crown jewels have been removed and hidden many times as well. They were also locked in a chest and sealed away in 1707 after the Act of Union between England and Scotland. They were rediscovered in 1818 and are on display in the Edinburgh Castle since then.
The Stone of Destiny
Stone of Destiny as it sounds is a very interesting object among the Crown Jewels of the castle. This is considered as the ancient symbol of monarchy and is seen as a sacred object. It is used in the inauguration of its Kings and Queens.
The Stone was seized and taken away from Scotland by King Edward I of England and was built into a new throne at Westminster. After that it was being used in the coronation ceremonies of the Monarchs of England and then United Kingdom.
Interestingly, it was removed from the Westminster Abbey in London by a group of 4 Scottish students in 1950, and later was found at the high altar of Arbroath Abbey in the Scottish Town of Arbroath. The stone was officially returned to Scotland in 1996 and since then it is displayed in the Crown Room in Edinburgh Castle. The Stone of Destiny will only leave the castle on the next coronation in Westminster Abbey.
The Royal Palace in Edinburg Castle Scotland
The Edinburgh Castle was also a famous residential place for the Royals as many kings and queens have lived in the comfort of the Royal Palace. The Royal Palace is located in Crown Square which took shape over time and King James IV completed the quadrangle in the beginning years of 15th century.
One of the interesting stories is the birth of King James VI in the 1566 in the Queen Mary’s chamber of the Royal Palace. The labor pains were difficult for the queen and it is said that magic was used to help ease her pain by transferring the birth pangs to a servant. The very same King James VI was the first monarch who ruled both Scotland and England in 1603. The birth chamber of King James VI is one of the tourist attractions of the castle.
The Great Hall in Edinburg Castle Scotland
As the name suggests, it is a very large hall which is a wonderful structure from the medieval Scotland also located in the Crown Square. The Great Hall was completed in 1511 under the rule of King James IV. The beautiful wooden roof of the hall is one of the amazing attractions of the castle.
The Great Hall was used for state level banquets and events, but it was turned into barracks in 1650 when Oliver Cromwell’s army captured the castle. Later it was also turned into a military hospital which stayed active until 1886, when the troops finally marched out.
The Great Hall was restored to its original condition and became a beautiful attraction for tourists in Edinburgh Castle. The hall displays many weapons and armors from its military’s past.
Fight for the Castle
This is an interesting exhibition displayed in the castle which portrays many interesting stories of the wars that were fought in and around the castle. You can learn the historic efforts of defense and captures from the animated episodes, projections and from the display of medieval objects.
St Margaret’s Chapel Edinburg Castle Scotland
St Margaret’s Chapel was built in 1130 by King David I and he named it after his mother, “Queen Margaret”. This serene private chapel was used by Scotland’s royal family to kneel in worship and the chapel is still used to host weddings and christenings.
The Chapel was also used as a gunpowder room in the beginning of the 15th century and then later on was given a bomb proof vaulting. Sir Daniel Wilson, who is an antiquary, rediscovered the chapel in 1845 and the place was later restored back to its original shape.
The ornate arches of the chapel are original but many other features like the stained-glass windows were recently installed. Visitors are always pleased with the fresh flower displays in the St Margaret’s Chapel.
Mons Meg at Edinburg Castle Scotland
Mons Meg was given to King James II in 1457 as a cutting-edge military technology weapon in 1457. This was a six-tons siege gun that could fire a 150-kilogram Gunstone for up to 2 miles. King James II hauled this 6-tons-gun, 80 kilometers for the siege of Roxburgh Castle.
The same gun was also used by James IV to attack the Dumbarton Castle and then the Norham castle. The Mons Meg was retired in 1550 after fighting in the King James V’s navy. The gun was again fired in the marriage of Queen Mary in 1958 and the Gunstone landed in the city’s area which is now the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh. The gun stayed in England for 75 years and then returned back to Scotland in 1829 and was placed outside St Margaret’s Chapel.
One O’clock Gun at Edinburg Castle Scotland
The One O’clock Gun is more like a firing exhibition that takes place at exactly One O’clock everyday except Sundays, Good Friday, and Christmas Day. This gun fire tradition dates back to 1861 and crowds have been gathering to enjoy this spectacle since then. The tradition was started by a 64-pounder gun but later it was changed to a 105mm field gun which is placed at the Mills Mount Battery.
Half Moon Battery at Edinburg Castle Scotland
Half Moon Battery is the wonderful place from where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the city and far beyond it. This point was the strategic placement of cannons which used to defend the castle from this height. It is located on the eastern side of the Edinburgh Castle.
Scottish National War Memorial
Some of the Scotland’s finest artists and craftspeople joined to create this National War Memorial for those who died in both world wars and in many conflicts. It is a sad truth that one of 5 Scots who enlisted during the First World War, could never return back home. There are sculptures and stained glass which depict the emotional scenes from the World Wars. There are many art works that showcase the courage, peace, and survival of the spirit. Animals figures are also used to portray the virtues.
The Scottish National War Memorial was created on the site of the former North Barracks and opened in 1927 for the visitors.
Scottish National War Museum
National War Museum in Scotland was opened in 1933 at the site of a former storehouse ordnance that was constructed in the early 18th century. The museum displays a large collection of objects which were used by the Scottish forces throughout the history. The display items also include chemical warfare suits and highland broadswords. The paintings on display include the famous painting by Robert Gibb which is called “The Thin Red Line”.
Prisons of War
These are the prisons under the vaults below the Crown Square, where pirates and 100s of war prisoners were kept during the 18th and 19th centuries. These prisons are restored in their old form to provide a glimpse of the miseries of the prisoners. You can also learn some information about the old prisoners and their stories like the 49 prisoners who tried to escape from the prison through a hole in 1811, but all of them were recaptured except one who died during the escape.
There was a 5-year-old prisoner who was a drummer boy and was captured in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The prisoners also include people from France, America, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, and Denmark which were mostly sailors. The Prisons of War also kept many pirates before the war. Around 21 members of Black Bart’s crew were captured who came to Scotland to retire but instead most of them were hanged.
The Queen’s Embroideries
These are the set of replicas of the embroideries which were created by Queen Marry during her exile time in England. Queen Mary sewed these embroideries while she was under house arrest while in exile and later, she was executed on the orders of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth.
The display items also include 37 needlework pictures. The replicas of the embroideries were created by the 33 volunteers who spent more than 7,300 hours working on this project between 2014 to 2017.