William Sinclair Manson

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Scotland and its History. Edinburgh Castle.

When I lived in Edinburgh I was about a 10-minute walk away from this glorious landmark. It is simply beautiful and the views are exceptional from the castle keep.

Staying on the theme of History, I was lucky, I grew up in a Historical City boasting many things to see, all within walking distance, today I am going to talk about  Edinburgh Castle.

edinburgh castle


I visited the Castle a few times in my youth but never really appreciated it in its entirety and beauty, we all imagine it as a centre piece for post cards, someone visits Edinburgh, and they are sure to send you a post card with the Castle being the attraction, but what do you know about it?
My first job leaving school was in Edinburgh Castle, I was 15, lucky to get my National Insurance card because I had not quite officially left school, so I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to start, thankfully it all worked out in the end.

I worked in the tourist cafe for one year, yes not the most interesting jobs in the world but it was, the folks I met the stories I was told was unbelievable because having lived in the City all my life and being a young guy I thought I knew everything about the City History but how wrong one can be. Edinburgh castle is as old as 340 million years when it was first created out of volcanic rock, it became a fortress around AD 600 it was first called “Din Eidyn A fortress on the rock.

The ownership of the castle was to and from Scotland and England Edward 1rst captured it around 1296, then the Scots reclaimed it under “Robert the Bruce” then the English and again the Scots lol a lot of battles over a castle. In 1326 David the second rebuilt the castle and died in it around 1371. The tower in the castle was named after him. In 1457 the huge Gun, cannon called “mons meg” arrived then James the fourth built the great Hall.

In 1494 the sceptre and the Sword of state were presented to James the fourth by the then popes of Rome, finally the crown was made and presented to James the fifth. In 1571 there was a land siege and Davids tower was demolished in the battle. In 1574 the castle was again reconstructed and other defences put in place to make it more secure and ready for any battles which may ensue.

In 1615 the palace is renovated to celebrate the fiftieth year of reign of King James the fifth of Scotland.
In 1633 King Charles was the last monarch to sleep in the castle before his coronation.In 1650 Oliver Cromwell took over the castle after the execution of Charles 1rst.In 1651 the crown and sceptre belonging to the former King are buried in Kincardineshire so Cromwell would not get his hands on it.In 1689 forces loyal to the exiled James V11 tried to take back the Castle from the then sovereigns William and Mary but were defeated.In 1715 The third rebellion of the Jacobite army nearly break through the castles defences.


In 1745 “Prince Charles” “bonnie Prince Charlie” and his fifth Jacobite rebellion fail again to penetrate and capture the castle and this was the last siege against the castle.

Now this is a part I had no idea about….

The seven-year War American war of Independence, the French revolutionary war and the Napoleonic wars ALL prisoners were held in Edinburgh Castle did YOU know that?
In 1818 a monument was made for Sir Walter Scott famous Scot novelist and put on display. In 1822 George IV visits the castle the first monarch to do so in 189 years. In 1829 “Mons Meg” is returned to the castle from London. In 1861 was the first ever “one o’clock gun” signal, still going today every day at 1pm… In 1887 the castle is regenerated and modernized by a famous architect.

In 1927 the National war museum is opened.In 1941 the treasures of the castle are buried in case of German occupation.In 1950 Edinburgh Castle hosts its first MILITARY TATTOO and is still going today a must-see if you visit Edinburgh.In 1996 the “stone of destiny is returned to the castle” and is now on displaying in 1998 the Castle is deemed as the most important building in Scottish heritage. Edinburgh Castle boasts 1.25 million visitors a year, wow, that’s a lot of people.

Edinburgh Castle has played a pivotal role in Scottish history, both as a royal residence – King Malcolm Canmore (r 1058–93) and Queen Margaret first made their home here in the 11th century – and as a military stronghold. The castle last saw military action in 1745; from then until the 1920s it served as the British army’s main base in Scotland. Today it is one of Scotland’s most atmospheric and popular tourist attractions.

The brooding, black crags of Castle Rock, rising above the western end of Princes St, are the very reason for Edinburgh’s existence. This rocky hill was the most easily defended hilltop on the invasion route between England and central Scotland, a route followed by countless armies from the Roman legions of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD to the Jacobite troops of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 174

The Entrance Gateway, flanked by statues of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace, opens to a cobbled lane that leads up beneath the 16th-century Portcullis Gate to the cannons ranged along the Argyle and Mills Mount Batteries. The battlements here have great views over the New Town to the Firth of Forth.

At the far end of Mills Mount Battery is the famous One O’clock Gun, where crowds gather to watch a gleaming WWII 25-pounder fire an ear-splitting time signal at exactly 1pm (every day except Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday).

South of Mills Mount, the road curls up leftwards through Foog’s Gate to the highest part of Castle Rock, crowned by the tiny, Romanesque St Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh. It was probably built by David I or Alexander I in memory of their mother, Queen Margaret, sometime around 1130 (she was canonized in 1250). Beside the chapel stands Mons Meg, a giant 15th-century siege gun built at Mons (in what is now Belgium) in 1449.

The main group of buildings on the summit of Castle Rock is ranged around Crown Sq, dominated by the shrine of the Scottish National War Memorial. The opposite is the Great Hall, built for James IV (r 1488–1513) as a ceremonial hall and used as a meeting place for the Scottish parliament until 1639. Its most remarkable feature is the original, 16th-century hammer-beam roof.

The Castle Vaults beneath the Great Hall (entered via the Prisons of War exhibit) were used variously as storerooms, bakeries and a prison. The vaults have been renovated to resemble 18th- and early 19th-century prisons, where graffiti carved by French and American prisoners can be seen on the ancient wooden doors.

On the eastern side of the square is the Royal Palace, built during the 15th and 16th centuries, where a series of historical tableaux leads to the highlight of the castle: a strongroom housing the Honours of Scotland (the Scottish crown jewels), among the oldest surviving crown jewels in Europe. Locked away in a chest following the Act of Union in 1707, the crown (made in 1540 from the gold of Robert the Bruce’s 14th-century coronet), sword and sceptre lay forgotten until they were unearthed at the instigation of novelist Sir Walter Scott in 1818. Also on display here is the Stone of Destiny.

Among the neighbouring Royal Flats is the bedchamber where Mary, Queen of Scots, gave birth to her son James VI, who was to unite the crowns of Scotland and England in 1603.

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