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Edinburgh Castle

 

Edinburgh Castle

TEL: +44 (0)131 225 9846
WEB: www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk

Basic History

The Castle stands upon Castle Rock overlooking the magnificent city of Edinburgh, it is the most popular paid tourist attraction in Scotland.  The castle is the location for the popular Military Tattoo which runs in late summer in Edinburgh and on New years eve there is a great fireworks display from here.

There is a long history behind the castle as you would expect from the capitol city’s former stronghold.  The first written records of the castle appear in 1093 where the castle is referred to as “Castle of Maidens” and it is the place where St Margret of Scotland died.  A chapel on the summit is built in her honour and it remains as the oldest building in Edinburgh Castle.

 

Robert the Bruce

The castle features prominently in the wars of independence as its importance as a stronghold was realised by the invading King of England, Edward I.  After a 3 day siege by the English army they took possession of the castle and a garrison was left to protect it for the English.

It remained in English hands until 1314 when it was recaptured by Robert the Bruces forces in a daring night time raid.  Sir Thomas Randolph lead a small group of men up the rock face to the castle under the cover of darkness.  Since the English army suspected the rock face to be unclimbable it was left unprotected and when the small Scots army got into the castle they took the English garrison by surprise and subsequently retook the castle.

After it was taken by the Scots, Robert the Bruce ordered its defences to be destroyed so that no opposing army would be able to use it as a military stronghold against the Scots again.

It was then retaken by the English after Robert the Bruces death around 1334, but the Scot again recaptured it in a daring raid again.  This time in 1341 it was William Douglas or “Black Douglas” as he was also known that lead a small party of men disguised as merchants into the castle.  Once they were inside they again retook the castle for Scotland

Mary Queen of Scots and James IV
The castle is also associated with Mary Queen of Scots as in July 1565 she gave birth to her only son, who would later be known as James IV of Scotland and James I of England.  Mary did not stay in Scotland for long however as she was driven out by civil wars in her own county and eventually executed by her cousin Elisabeth I in England.

Prior to her execution the keeper of the castle was Sir William Kirkcaldy and in 1571 he came out in support of Mary Queen of Scots.  This lead to a siege upon the castle by supporters of the King and after and 11 day siege and support from England eventually he had to surrender.  This was however only after  most of the castles defences had been destroyed which left it in mostly ruins, this siege is referred to as the “Lang Siege”.  Immediately after the castle was taken by the Kings troops rebuilding work was started and much of the work done during this period is what you see today.

The castle saw quiet years after this and the last monarch to stay here was Charles I in 1633 just before his coronation.  The last siege that the castle saw was in 1745 during the Jacobite Rebellions.  A force led by Bonnie Prince Charlie failed to capture the castle during this siege.

Today you can tour round the castle and learn more about its extensive history from the knowledgeable guides.  You can also view the stone of destiny which was returned to the castle in 1996. 

 
Distances
Princes St 0.8 miles
Edinburgh Airport 7.8 miles
Train Station 0.6 miles
Adult £11  
Child £5.50
Concession £9
     
Open 7 Days a Week
Summer 1 April to 31 October 9.30am - 6.00pm
Winter 1 November to 31 March 9.30am - 5.00pm