Edinburgh Castle

The Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle stands on high basalt rock, making use of the natural defenses of the site.

Edinburgh Castle History

Edinburgh Castle and Ross Fountain in the Princess Street Gardens

Edinburgh Castle was used as a Bronze Age hill fort and during the Roman occupation it was a thriving settlement.

By the eleventh century AD it had become firmly established as one of the principal royal residences in Scotland and Queen Margaret died there in 1093.

Her youngest son, David I, built the earliest surviving part of the castle in his mother’s honor and today St. Margaret’s Chapel is a restrained reminder of the castle’s varied and ancient past.

After the Reformation, it was used as a gunpowder store, but was restored to its present appearance in the nineteenth century and the Romanesque chevron-patterned chancel arch is in good condition.

Because of its importance to the Scottish nation, Edinburgh has been attacked and rebuilt at various times and the military and defensive aspects predominate over the palatial and residential.

Edinburgh Castle Portcullis Gate

The great fourteenth-century L-shaped Tower House of Robert Bruce’s son, David II, was almost flattened by the ‘Lang Siege’ of 1571-3 and its base is now hidden by the Half-Moon Battery, built to restore the defenses of the castle after the siege.

Other earlier buildings around the Crown Square, once the center of the Renaissance Palace at Edinburgh, was subsequently used as military barracks (in the Great Hall) and altered to accommodate the headquarters of the Regiments that came to be based here after the center of power went south with King James VI in 1603.

Edinburgh Castle Interior detail in the Great Hall

James only returned once to Edinburgh and his son Charles I was the last monarch to sleep at the castle when he stayed overnight before his Scottish Coronation in 1633.

Cromwell’s army made further alterations to the appearance of the castle and the subsequent permanent army based there destroyed and erected buildings without regard for aesthetic or historic concerns.

The massive vaults under the Great Hall were well-used as prisons during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, housing French, American, Spanish, Dutch, German, and Italian prisoners of war.

The focus of the castle began to change however due to the re-emergence of interest in Scottish Heritage in the nineteenth century.

Cannons at Edinburgh Castle

The author Sir Walter Scott applied for and obtained permission from the Prince Regent to search for the missing Scottish Honours, the sixteenth-century Crown Jewels, which had been hidden away following the Treaty of Union in 1707.

He found them safely kept in the castle, just as they had been left 111 years before and they were put on display to the public for the admission price of one shilling.

Further rooms were opened and restoration of the Great Hall, now a magnificent Victorian interior, was carried out. The momentum continued and the main garrison finally left the castle in 1923.

Visit Edinburgh Castle

Coat of Arms above entrance to Edinburgh Castle

The Scottish National War Memorial was built in 1923 and is still a moving reminder of the nation’s history of conflict and national pride and heroism.

Each day except Sunday a Second World War 25-pounder gun is fired from the Mills Mount Battery at 1 pm, a time check for the citizens below and a tourist attraction for the castle’s visitors from all over the world.

Each Summer the Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place on the Esplanade in front of the castle, providing an impressive setting and continuing the military connection.

In 1996, on St. Andrew’s Day, the Stone of Scone, or Destiny, was returned from its seven hundred-year exile in Westminster Abbey in London to Edinburgh Castle, to be on display with the Honours and thus reinforcing the royal connection of the castle.

Edinburgh Castle Location

Edinburgh Castle Address: Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh EH1, UK. Get help with directions using the map provided below:

Edinburgh Castle Map

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