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Edinburgh Castle
Modernised Royal Castle in Scotland

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Edinburgh Castle is a castle fortress that dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, from its position on top of the volcanic Castle Rock. Human habitation of the site dates back to the 9th century BC, although the nature of early settlement is unclear.

The present castle dates from the 12th to 21st centuries. The castle saw many sieges and occupations during the Wars of Scottish Independence (1296 - 1357) and was besieged during the Lang Siege (1571 - 1573); and again in 1640, 1650, 1689, and 1745.

The castle is still in use today for ceremonial and military purposes. The 52 Infantry Brigade is garrisoned here. It is now owned by the Ministry of Defence. It is open to the public. Parts are also rented for wedding receptions.

 

Location

 

Edinburgh Castle is located at the top of the Royal Mile, at the west end of Edinburgh's Old Town.

The volcanic Castle Rock offers a naturally defended position, with sheer cliffs to north and south, and a steep ascent from the west. The only easy approach is from the town to the east, and the castle's defences are situated accordingly.

The castle stands up on the plug of an extinct volcano, which is estimated to have risen some 350 million years ago, during the lower Carboniferous period. The Castle Rock is the remains of a volcanic pipe, which cut through the surrounding sedimentary rock, before cooling to form very hard dolerite, a type of basalt. Subsequent glacial erosion was resisted by the dolerite, which protected the softer rock to the east, leaving a crag and tail formation, ideal as a defensive position.

The summit of the Castle Rock is 120 metres (390 ft) above sea level, with rocky cliffs to the south, west and north, rearing up to 80 metres (260 ft) from the surrounding landscape. This means that the only readily accessible route to the castle lies to the east, where the ridge slopes more gently. But just as its location has rendered the castle all but impregnable, it has also presented difficulties. Not the least of these is that basalt is an extremely poor aquifer, and therefore providing water to the Upper Ward of the castle has long been problematic, particularly under siege conditions, for instance when the garrison ran out of water during the Lang Siege of 1573

Edinburgh Castle's formidable Natural Defences

 

 

 


Address:
Edinburgh Castle
Castle Hill Edinburgh
Midlothian EH12NG
Scotland

Contact
Telephone from the UK: 0131 225 9846
Telephone from the US: 010 44 131 225 9846
Telephone from France: 00 44 131 225 9846
Telephone from other countries: +44 (0)131 225 9846

Fax: -
Website: http://www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk
e-mail: hs.ticketing@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

 

 

Google Maps

 

Small scale map showing the location of
Edinburgh Castle

Google map showing the location of
Edinburgh Castle

Large scale map showing
Edinburgh Castle

 

There has been a royal castle here since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1603. As one of the most important fortresses in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle has been involved in many historical conflicts, from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century, up to the Jacobite Rising of 1745, and has been besieged, both successfully and unsuccessfully, on several occasions. From the later 17th century, the castle became a military base, with a large garrison. Its importance as a historic monument was recognised from the 19th century, and various restoration programmes have been carried out since.

Few of the present buildings pre-date the Lang Siege of the 16th century, when the medieval fortifications were largely destroyed by artillery bombardment. A notable exception is St Margaret's Chapel, the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh, which dates from the early 12th century. Among other significant buildings of the castle are the Royal Palace, and the early-16th-century Great Hall. The castle also houses the Scottish National War Memorial, and National War Museum of Scotland.

Although formally owned by the Ministry of Defence, most of the castle is now in the care of Historic Scotland, and is Scotland's second-most-visited tourist attraction.] Although the garrison left in the 1920s, there is still a military presence at the castle, largely ceremonial and administrative, and including a number of regimental museums. It is also the backdrop to the annual Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and has become a recognisable symbol of Edinburgh and of Scotland.

 

 

Edinburgh Castle at Night

 

Edinburgh Castle - looking up at the Half Moon Battery

 
 

Edinburgh Castle Aerial View

 
 

 

History of Edinburgh Castle

 

Early History of Edinburgh Castle

It has been suggested that a documentary reference to occupation of the Castle Rock can be found as early as the mid-second century AD. Ptolemy (c. 83 - c. 168) refers to a settlement of the Votadini known to the Romans as "Alauna", meaning "rock place", which may be the earliest known name for the Castle Rock

The Orygynale Cronykil of Andrew of Wyntoun (c. 1350 - c. 1423), an early chronicler of Scottish history, alludes to "Ebrawce" (Ebraucus), a legendary King of the Britons, who "byggyd [built] Edynburgh".

According to the earlier chronicler, Geoffrey of Monmouth (c. 1100 - c. 1155), Ebraucus had fifty children by his twenty wives, and was the founder of "Kaerebrauc" (York), "Alclud" (Dumbarton), and the "Maidens' Castle". John Stow (c. 1525 - 1605), credited Ebraucus with building "the Castell of Maidens called Edenbrough" in 989 BC.

The name " Maiden Castle", or Castellum Puellarum in Latin, was commonly used until at least the 16th century. It appears in charters of David I (ruled 1124 - 1153) and his successors, although its origins are obscure. William Camden's 1607 Britannia records that

"the Britans called [it] Castle Myned Agned, the Scots, the Maiden's Castle and the Virgin's Castle, of certaine young maidens of the Picts roiall bloud who were kept there in old time".

Possibly the earliest maidens were those belonging to a "Cult of the Nine Maidens" type of legend. Arthurian legends suggest that the site once held a shrine to Morgain la Fee, one of nine sisters. Later, St Monenna is said to have invested a church at Edinburgh, as well as at Dumbarton and other places, and is also said to have been one of nine companions - a Christianised version of the myth. More simply, the term "Maiden Castle" may refer to a castle which has never been taken by force.

An archaeological survey of the castle in the late 1980s shows evidence of the site having been settled during the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age, potentially making Castle Rock the longest continually occupied site in Scotland. The extent of the finds was not sufficient to draw any precise conclusions about the nature or scale of this earliest known phase of occupation.

Archaeological evidence becomes more compelling in the Iron Age. It had been supposed that the tribes that inhabited this part of central Scotland had made little or no use of the Castle Rock. Excavations at nearby Traprain Law, Dunsapie Hill, Duddingston and Inveresk had revealed large settlements and it was supposed that these sites had been chosen in preference to the Castle Rock. But the excavations of the 1980s suggested that there had been an enclosed hill fort on the rock. House fragments found here were similar to Votadini houses previously found in Northumbria.

The dig revealed clear signs of habitation from the first and second centuries AD, consistent with Ptolemy's reference to "Alauna". Signs of occupation included Roman material, including pottery, bronzes and brooches. This may reflect a trading relationship between the Votadini and the Romans, beginning with Agricola's foray north, and continuing up to the establishment of the Antonine Wall when the Romans established themselves nearby at Cramond.The nature of the settlement at this time is inconclusive. There is no evidence that the Romans occupied the Castle Rock, as they did at nearby Traprain Law. From this point onwards there is strong evidence pointing towards continuous habitation of the site through to the present.

 

History of Edinburgh Castle - the Dark Ages

The castle does not re-appear in contemporary historical records from the time of Ptolemy until around AD 600. Then, in the brythonic epic Y Gododdin, we find a reference to Din Eidyn, "the stronghold of Eidyn". This has been viewed as an early reference to the Castle Rock. The poem tells of the Gododdin King Mynyddog Mwynfawr, and his band of warriors, who, after a year of feasting in their fortress, set out to do battle with the Angles in the area of contemporary Yorkshire. Despite performing glorious deeds of valour the Brythons were massacred.

Irish annals record that in 638, after the events related in Y Gododdin, "Etin" was besieged by the Angles under Oswald of Northumbria, and the Gododdin were defeated. The territory around Edinburgh then became part of the Kingdom of Northumbria, which was itself absorbed by England in the 10th century, when Athelstan of England, according to the Annals of Clonmacnoise, "spoiled the Kingdom of Edinburgh". The English withdrew, and Lothian became part of Scotland, during the reign of Indulf who ruled 954 - 962.

Archaeological evidence is again equivocal - it is entirely based on analysis of midden heaps, with no evidence of structures. Few conclusions can therefore be derived about the status of the settlement during this period, although the midden deposits show no clear break since Roman times.

 

History of Edinburgh Castle - the Middle Ages

The first documentary reference to a castle at Edinburgh is in John of Fordun's account of the death of King Malcolm III. Fordun places his widow, the future Saint Margaret, at the "Castle of Maidens", where she learns of his death in November 1093. Fordun's account goes on to relate how Margaret died of grief within days, and how Malcolm's brother Donald Bane laid siege to the castle. Fordun's chronicle was not written until the later 14th century, and the near-contemporary account of the life of St Margaret, by Bishop Turgot, makes no mention of a castle. During the reign of Malcolm III, Dunfermline rather than Edinburgh was the primary royal residence. This began to change though during the reign of his youngest son, King David I who ruled 1124 - 1153.

King David's largest contribution to the development of Edinburgh as a site of royal power was his administrative reforms. He is also credited with changes to the fabric of the castle. The first meeting of the Scottish Parliament occurred at the castle around 1140, and it seems that there were large buildings occupying the rock at this time. These buildings, and any defences, would probably have been of timber, although two 12th-century stone buildings are known. Of these, St. Margaret's Chapel remains at the summit of the rock. The second was a church, dedicated to St. Mary, which stood on the site of the Scottish National War Memorial.

Given that the southern part of the Upper Ward (where Crown Square is now sited) was not suited to being built upon until the construction of the vaults in the fifteenth century, it seems probable that these earlier buildings would have been located towards the northern part of the rock; that is around the area where St. Margaret's Chapel stands. This has led to a suggestion that the chapel is the last remnant of a square, stone keep, which would have formed the bulk of the twelfth-century fortification. The structure may have been similar to the keep of Carlisle Castle, which David I began after 1135.

In 1174, David's successor King William "the Lion" (ruled 1165 - 1214) was captured by the English at the Battle of Alnwick. He was forced to sign the Treaty of Falaise to secure his release, in return for surrendering Edinburgh Castle, along with the castles of Berwick, Roxburgh and Stirling, to the English King, Henry II. The castle was occupied by the English for twelve years, until 1186, when it was returned to William as the dowry of his English bride, Ermengarde de Beaumont, who had been chosen for him by King Henry.

A century later, on the death of King Alexander III, the throne of Scotland became vacant. Edward I of England was appointed to adjudicate the competing claims for the Scottish crown, but used the opportunity to establish himself as the feudal overlord of Scotland. During the negotiations, Edward stayed briefly at Edinburgh Castle, and had much of the country's records and treasure removed from the castle to England.

In March 1296, Edward I launched an invasion of Scotland, sparking the First War of Scottish Independence. Edinburgh Castle soon came under English control, surrendering after three days of bombardment. A large garrison was installed, 325 strong in 1300. After the death of Edward I in 1307 England's control over Scotland weakened. On 14 March 1314, a surprise night attack by Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray, recaptured the castle. The plan involved a party of thirty hand-picked men, led by one William Francis, who had lived in the castle as a boy, making a difficult ascent up the north face of the Castle Rock, and taking the garrison by surprise. Robert the Bruce immediately ordered the slighting of the castle's defences to prevent re-occupation by the English. Shortly after, Bruce's army secured victory at the Battle of Bannockburn.

After Bruce's death, Edward III of England determined to carry on his grandfather's project, and supported the claim of Edward Balliol, son of the former King John Balliol, over that of the young David II, son of the Bruce. Edward invaded in 1333, marking the start of the Second War of Scottish Independence, and the English forces reoccupied and refortified Edinburgh Castle in 1335, holding it until 1341. This time, the Scottish assault was led by William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas. Douglas's party disguised themselves as merchants bringing supplies to the garrison. Driving a cart into the castle, they halted it to prevent the gates closing. A larger force hidden nearby rushed to join them, and the castle was retaken. The English garrison, numbering 100, were all killed.

The Treaty of Berwick of 1357 brought the Wars of Independence to a close. David II resumed his rule, and set about rebuilding Edinburgh Castle, which became his principal seat of government. David's Tower was begun around 1367, and was incomplete when David died at the Castle in 1371. It was completed by his successor, Robert II, in the 1370s. The tower stood on the site of the present Half Moon Battery, and was connected by a section of curtain wall to the smaller, Constable's Tower, a round tower built between 1375 and 1379 where the Portcullis Gate now stands.

In the early 15th century, another English invasion, this time under Henry IV, reached Edinburgh Castle and began a siege, but due to a lack of supplies, the English withdrew.

From 1437, Sir William Crichton was Keeper of Edinburgh Castle, and soon after became Chancellor of Scotland. In an attempt to gain the regency of Scotland, Crichton sought to overthrow the power of the Earls of Douglas, the principal noble family in the kingdom. The sixteen-year-old William Douglas, 6th Earl of Douglas, and his younger brother David, were summoned to Edinburgh Castle in November 1440. The so-called "Black Dinner" which followed saw the two boys summarily beheaded on trumped-up charges, in the presence of the ten-year-old King James II (ruled 1437 - 1460). Douglas' supporters subsequently laid siege to the castle, causing some damage. Construction continued during these events, with the area now known as Crown Square being laid out over vaults in the 1430s. Royal apartments were built, forming the nucleus of the later palace block, and a Great Hall was in existence by 1458. In 1464, the access to the castle was improved, with the current approach road up the north-east side of the rock being laid out.

In 1479, Alexander Stewart, Duke of Albany, was imprisoned in David's Tower for plotting against his brother, King James III (ruled 1460 - 1488). Alexander escaped by getting his guards drunk, then lowering himself from a window on a rope. He fled to France, then England, where he allied himself with King Edward IV. In 1482, he marched into Scotland with Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later King Richard III) and an English army. He occupied Edinburgh Castle, and imprisoned the King for two months, before the rebellion collapsed.

During the 15th century, the castle was used as an arsenal and armaments factory. The first known purchase of a gun was in 1384. The "great bombard" Mons Meg was delivered to Edinburgh in 1457. Meanwhile, the royal family began to stay more frequently at the Abbey of Holyrood, at the opposite end of the Royal Mile. Around the end of the century, King James IV (ruled 1488 - 1513) built Holyroodhouse, by the abbey, for his principal Edinburgh residence, and Edinburgh Castle's role as a royal home subsequently declined. James IV did, however, construct the present Great Hall, which was completed in the early 16th century.

Edinburgh Castle Plan

 

Edinburgh Castle at Dusk

 

Edinburgh Castle Latrines

 

Edinburgh Castle - A Normal arch in St Margaret's Chapel

 
 

Edinburgh Castle

 

Edinburgh Castle Memorial to the Earl of Moray

 

Edinburgh Castle Latrines from below

 
 

Edinburgh Castle - Mons Meg

 
 

Edinburgh Castle - Aerial View

 

Mary Queen of Scots

 

Edinburgh Castle Army Barracks

 

Edinburgh Castle Merlon, with hinged shutter

 

Edinburgh Castle in The Tudor and Stuart Periods

James IV was killed in battle at Flodden Field, on 9 September 1513. Expecting the English to press their advantage, the Scots hastily constructed a town wall around Edinburgh and augmented the castle's defences. A Frenchman, Antoine d'Arces, was involved in designing artillery works in 1514.

Three years later, King James V (ruled 1513 - 1542), still only five years old, was brought to the castle for safety. On James' death 25 years later, the crown passed to his week-old daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots. English invasions followed, as King Henry VIII attempted to force a dynastic marriage on Scotland, although Edinburgh Castle remained largely unaffected. Following these campaigns, refortifications included an earthen angle-bastion, known as the Spur, of the type known as trace italienne, one of the earliest examples in Britain. It my have been designed by Migliorino Ubaldini, an Italian engineer from the court of Henry II of France. James V's widow, Mary of Guise, based herself at Edinburgh Castle, acting as regent from 1554 until 1560, when she died at the castle. The following year, her daughter Mary returned from France to begin her reign.

The reign of the Catholic Queen Mary was marred by crises and quarrels amongst the powerful Protestant Scottish nobility. In 1565, the Queen married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, and the following year, in a small room of the Palace at Edinburgh Castle, she gave birth to James, who would later be King of both Scotland and England. Mary's own reign was already drawing to a close. Three months after the murder of Darnley at Kirk o' Field in 1567, she married James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, one of the murder suspects. A large proportion of the nobility rebelled, resulting ultimately in the imprisonment and forced abdication of Mary at Loch Leven Castle. She eventually escaped and fled to England. Some of the nobility remained faithful to her cause. Edinburgh Castle was initially handed by its Captain, James Balfour, to the Regent Moray, who had forced Mary's abdication, and now held power in the name of the infant King James VI. Moray appointed Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange as Keeper of the Castle.

Kirkcaldy of Grange was a trusted lieutenant of the Regent, but after Moray's murder in January 1570 his allegiance to the King's cause began to waver. Intermittent civil war continued between the supporters of the two monarchs, and in April 1571 Dumbarton Castle fell to the King's men. Under the influence of William Maitland of Lethington, Mary's secretary, Grange changed sides, occupying the town and castle of Edinburgh for Queen Mary, and against the new regent, the Earl of Lennox. The stand-off which followed was not resolved until two years later, and became known as the "Lang Siege", from the Scots word for "long".

Hostilities began in May, with a month-long siege of the town, and a short second siege in October. Blockades and skirmishing continued as Grange refortified the castle. The King's party appealed to Elizabeth I of England for assistance, as they lacked the artillery and money required to reduce the castle, and feared that Grange would receive aid from France. Elizabeth sent ambassadors to negotiate, and in July 1572 a truce was agreed and the blockade lifted. The town was effectively surrendered to the King's party, with Grange confined to the castle.

The truce ran out on 1 January 1573, and Grange still in possession of the castle, began bombarding the town. His supplies of powder and shot were running low, and despite having 40 cannon available, he had only seven gunners in the garrison. The King's forces, now with the Earl of Morton in charge as regent, were making headway with plans for a siege. Trenches were dug to surround the castle, and St Margaret's Well was poisoned.

By February, all Queen Mary's other supporters had surrendered to the Regent, but Grange resolved to resist, despite water shortages within the castle. The garrison continued to bombard the town, killing a number of citizens. Grange's unpopularity with the townsfolk was further increased after his men made a sortie to set fires, burning 100 houses in the town, and then shooting at anyone attempting to put out the flames.

In April, a force of around 1,000 English troops, led by Sir William Drury, arrived in Edinburgh. They were followed by 27 cannon from Berwick-upon-Tweed, including one that had been cast within Edinburgh Castle, and captured by the English at Flodden. The English troops built a battery on Castle Hill, immediately facing the east walls of the Castle, and five other batteries to the north, west and south. By 17 May these were ready, and the bombardment began. Over the next 12 days, the gunners dispatched around 3,000 shots at the castle. On 22 May, the south wall of David's Tower collapsed, and the next day the Constable's Tower also fell. The debris blocked the castle entrance, as well as the Fore Well, although this had already run dry On 26 May, the English attacked and captured the Spur, the outer fortification of the castle, which had been isolated by the collapse. The following day, Grange came out, calling a ceasefire while surrender could be negotiated. When it was made clear that he would not be allowed to go free, Grange resolved to continue the resistance, but the garrison threatened to mutiny. He therefore arranged for Drury and his men to come into the castle on 28 May, surrendering to the English rather than to the Regent Morton.

Edinburgh Castle was handed over to George Douglas of Parkhead, the Regent's brother, and the garrison were allowed to go free. William Kirkcaldy of Grange, his brother James, and two jewellers who had been minting coins in Mary's name inside the castle, were hanged at the mercat cross on 3 August.

Much of the castle was rebuilt by Regent Morton, including the Spur, the new Half Moon Battery, and the Portcullis Gate. The battered palace block remained unused, although James VI had repairs carried out in 1584, and again in 1615-1617, in preparation for his return visit to Scotland, after he had acceded to the English throne in 1603. James held court in the refurbished palace, but still preferred to sleep at Holyrood.

In 1621, King James granted Sir William Alexander the land in North America between New England and Newfoundland, as Nova Scotia ("New Scotland"). To promote the settlement and plantation of Nova Scotia, the Baronetage of Nova Scotia was created in 1624. Under Scots Law, baronets had to take sasine by symbolically receiving the earth and stone of the land of which they were baronet. To make this possible, since Nova Scotia was far distant, the King declared that sasine could be taken either in Nova Scotia or, alternatively, "at the castle of Edinburgh as the most eminent and principal place of Scotland."

James' successor, King Charles I, visited Edinburgh Castle only once, hosting a feast in the Great Hall, and staying the night before his coronation as King of Scots in 1633, the last occasion that a reigning monarch has resided in the castle.

In 1639, in response to Charles' attempts to reform the Scottish Church, civil war broke out between the King's forces and the Presbyterian Covenanters. Covenanters, led by Alexander Leslie, captured Edinburgh Castle after a short siege. It was restored to Charles after the Peace of Berwick of June the same year. The peace was short lived, however, and the following year the Covenanters took the castle again, this time after a three-month siege, during which the garrison ran out of supplies. The Spur was badly damaged, and was demolished in the 1640s. The Royalist commander James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose was imprisoned here after his capture in 1650.

In May 1650, the Covenanters signed the Treaty of Breda, allying themselves with King Charles II against the English Parliamentarians, who had executed King Charles I the previous year. In response, Oliver Cromwell launched an invasion of Scotland, defeating the Covenanter army at Dunbar in September. Edinburgh Castle was taken after a three-month siege, which caused further damage. The Governor of the Castle, Colonel Walter Dundas, surrendered to Cromwell despite having enough supplies to hold out, allegedly because he wished to change sides.

After his Restoration as King of England and Scotland in 1660, Charles II opted to maintain a full-time standing army based on Cromwell's New Model Army. From this time until 1923, a garrison was continuously maintained at the castle. The medieval royal castle was transformed into a garrison fortress, but continued to see military and political action.

The Marquis of Argyll was imprisoned here in 1661, during the mopping up of the King's enemies after the Restoration. Twenty years later, his son, the Earl of Argyll, was also imprisoned in the castle for religious Nonconformism. He escaped by disguising himself as his sister's footman, but was brought back to the castle after his failed rebellion against King James VII in 1685.

James VII was deposed and exiled by the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89, which installed William of Orange as King of England. The Parliament of Scotland also accepted William as their new king, and required the Duke of Gordon, Governor of the Castle, to surrender the fortress. Gordon, who had been appointed by James VII as a fellow Catholic, refused. In March 1689, the castle was blockaded by 7,000 troops, against a garrison of 160 men, who were further weakened by religious disputes between themselves. On 18 March, Viscount Dundee climbed up the Castle Rock, and attempted to persuade Gordon to ride out with him in rebellion against the new King. Gordon chose to stay, and during the ensuing siege, he refused to fire upon the town, while the besiegers inflicted little damage on the castle. Despite Dundee's initial successes in the north, Gordon eventually surrendered on 14 June, due to dwindling supplies, and having lost 70 men during the three-month siege.

Under the terms of the Acts of Union, which joined England and Scotland in 1707, Edinburgh was one of the four Scottish castles to be maintained and permanently garrisoned by the new British Army, along with Stirling, Dumbarton and Blackness.

The castle was almost taken in the first Jacobite rising in support of James Stuart, the "Old Pretender", in 1715. On 8 September, just two days after the rising began, a party of around 100 Jacobite Highlanders, led by Lord Drummond, attempted to scale the walls with the assistance of members of the garrison. The rope ladder lowered by the castle sentries was too short, and the alarm was raised after a change in the watch. The Jacobites fled, while the deserters within the castle were hanged or flogged.

General Wade reported in 1728 that the castle's defences were decayed and inadequate, and major refortifications were carried out throughout the 1720s and 1730s, when most of the artillery defences and bastions on the north and west sides of the castle were built. These were designed by military engineer Captain John Romer, and built by William Adam, and include the Argyle Battery, Mills Mount Battery, the Low Defences and the Western Defences.

The last military action the castle saw was during the 1745 Jacobite Rising. The Jacobite army, under Charles Edward Stuart, "Bonnie Prince Charlie", captured Edinburgh without a fight in September 1745, but the castle remained in the hands of the ageing Deputy Governor, General George Preston, who refused to surrender. After their victory over the government army at Prestonpans on 21 September, the Jacobites attempted to blockade the castle. Preston's response was to bombard Jacobite positions within the town. After several buildings had been demolished, and four people killed, Charles called off the blockade. The Jacobites themselves had no heavy guns with which to respond, and by November they had marched on to England, leaving Edinburgh to the castle garrison.

Edinburgh Castle - Memorial to Sir James Kircaldy

 

Edinburgh Castle - 16th Century Leaded Glass

 
 

Edinburgh Castle - Canon with fire-beacon above

 

Edinburgh Castle - Cromwellian re-enactor

 

Edinburgh Castle Canon

 
 

Edinburgh Castle View

 
 

Edinburgh Castle - Nineteenth century stone roof

 

Edinburgh Castle - Road inside the castle

 

Edinburgh Castle - armour in the Great Hall

 

Edinburgh Castle - Cromwellian re-enactor in the Great Hall

 
 
 

 

Edinburgh Castle in The Eighteenth & Nineteenth Centuries

Over the next century, the castle vaults were used to hold prisoners of war during several conflicts, including the Seven Years' War (1756 - 1763), the American War of Independence (1775 - 1783) and the Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815). During this time, several new buildings were erected within the castle, including powder magazines, stores, the Governor's House (1742), and the New Barracks (1796 - 1799).

A mass prison break in 1811, in which 49 prisoners of war escaped via a hole in the south wall, persuaded the authorities that the castle vaults were no longer a suitable prison. Its use as a prison ceased in 1814, and the castle began to take on a role as a national monument. In 1818, Sir Walter Scott was given permission to search the castle for the Crown of Scotland, which had been stored away since the union of Scotland and England in 1707. Breaking open the Crown Room, he retrieved the Honours of Scotland, which were then put on public display, with an entry charge of one shilling.

In 1822, King George IV made a visit to Edinburgh, becoming the first reigning monarch to visit to the castle since Charles II in 1651. In 1829, the cannon Mons Meg was returned from London, and the palace began to be opened up to visitors during the 1830s.

St Margaret's Chapel was "rediscovered" in 1845, having been used as a store for many years.

Works in the 1880s, funded by the publisher William Nelson and carried out by Hippolyte Blanc, saw the Argyle Tower built over the Portcullis Gate, and the Great Hall restored after years of use as a barracks. A new gatehouse was built in 1888. During the 19th century, several schemes were put forward for rebuilding the whole castle as a Scottish Baronial style château. Work began in 1858, but was soon abandoned, and only the hospital building was remodelled in 1897. Following the death of Prince Albert in 1861, the architect David Bryce put forward a proposal for a 50-metre (160 ft) keep as a memorial. Queen Victoria did not like it, so the scheme was not pursued.

 

Edinburgh Castle in The Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries

In 1905, responsibility for the castle was transferred from the War Office to the Office of Works, although the garrison remained until 1923, when the troops moved to Redford Barracks in south-west Edinburgh.

The castle again became a prison during the First World War, when "Red Clydesider" David Kirkwood was confined here, and during the Second World War, when it housed German Luftwaffe pilots.

The position of Governor of Edinburgh Castle, which had been vacant since 1876, was revived in 1935 as an honorary title for the General Officer Commanding in Scotland, the first holder being Lieutenant-General Sir Archibald Cameron of Lochiel.

The castle passed into the care of Historic Scotland when it was established in 1991, and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The buildings and structures of the castle are further protected by 24 separate listings, including 13 at category A, the highest level of protection for a historic building in Scotland.

The castle is now run and administered, for the most part, by Historic Scotland, an executive agency of the Scottish Government. It undertakes the dual, and sometimes contradictory, tasks of operating the castle as a commercially viable tourist attraction, while having responsibility for conservation of the site. Edinburgh Castle remains the most popular paid visitor attraction in Scotland, with nearly 1.2 million visitors in 2009.

Historic Scotland maintains a number of facilities within the castle, including two cafés/restaurants, several shops, and numerous historical displays. An educational centre in the Queen Anne Building runs events for schools and educational groups, including re-enactors in costume and with period weaponry. There are also a number of re-enactors employed for the general public.

The castle continues to have a strong connection with the Army, and is one of the few ancient castles in Britain that still has a military garrison, albeit for largely ceremonial and administrative purposes. Public duties performed by the garrison include guarding the Honours of Scotland, and armed sentries stand watch at the castle gatehouse outside opening hours.

The post of Governor of Edinburgh Castle is now a ceremonial post, held by the General Officer Commanding of the British Army's 2nd Division. The New Barrack Block is home to the Home Headquarters of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and 52 Infantry Brigade. The Army is also responsible for the Governor's House, which serves as the Officers' Mess.

A series of performances known as the Edinburgh Military Tattoo take place on the Esplanade each year during August. The basis of the performance is a parade of the pipes and drums of the Scottish regiments. Since the first performance in 1950, the Tattoo has developed a complex format which includes invited performers from around the world, although still with a largely military focus. The climax of the evening is the lone piper on the castle battlements, playing a pibroch in memory of dead comrades in arms, followed by the massed pipe bands joining in a medley of traditional Scottish tunes. The Tattoo attracts an annual audience of around 217,000 people, and is broadcast around the world.

A One O'Clock Gun, a time signal, is fired every day at precisely 13:00, excepting Sunday, Good Friday and Christmas Day. The gun was established in 1861 as a time signal for ships in the Firth of Forth, and complemented the time ball, which was installed on Nelson's Monument in 1852, but which was useless during foggy weather. The gun could easily be heard by ships in Leith Harbour, 2 miles (3.2 km) away. Because sound travels relatively slowly (approximately 343 metres per second (770 mph)), maps were produced in the 1860s to show the actual time when the sound of the gun was heard at various locations in Edinburgh.

The original gun was an 18-pound muzzle loading cannon, which needed four men to load, and was fired from the Half Moon Battery. This was replaced in 1913 by a 32-pound breech loader, and in May 1952 by a 25-pound Howitzer. The present One O'clock Gun is an L118 Light Gun, brought into service on 30 November 2001. The gun is now fired from Mill's Mount Battery, on the north face of the castle, by the District Gunner from 105th Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers). Although the gun is no longer required for its original purpose, the ceremony has become a popular tourist attraction,

The castle has become a recognisable symbol of Edinburgh, and of Scotland. It appears, in stylised form, on the coats of arms of the City of Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh. Images of the Castle are used as a logo by organisations including Edinburgh Rugby, the Edinburgh Evening News, Hibernian F.C. and the Edinburgh Marathon. It also appears on the "Castle series" of Royal Mail postage stamps, and has been represented on various issues of banknotes issued by Scottish clearing banks. In the 1960s the castle was illustrated on £5 notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland, and since 1987 it has featured on the reverse of £1 notes also issued by the Royal Bank. In 1997 the Clydesdale Bank issued a special commemorative £20 note which included an illustration of Edinburgh Castle.The castle is also the focus for a massive fireworks display on New Year's Eve.

The castle is said to have a ghost of a headless drummer (last sighted in 1960) and a piper playing on the battlements.

Wedding ceremonies and receptions can be held in a choice of areas throughout the castle. While the main bridal party are using the grounds for wedding photography, a tour of the castle, including the Crown Jewels, can be arranged for guests

Edinburgh Castle - Aerial View

 

Edinburgh Castle - Nineteenth Century Entrance Gate

 

Edinburgh Castle - Scottish Arms Over the Nineteenth Century Entrance Gate

 
 

Edinburgh Castle - the Military Tattoo

 

Edinburgh Castle - The One O'clock Gun

 

Edinburgh Castle - Cromwellian re-enactor in the Great Hall

 

 

Architecture

 

The castle is divided into three areas known as "wards", separated by gates, which step up to the summit area of the Castle Rock.

In front of the castle is a long sloping forecourt known as the Esplanade. Originally the Spur, a 16th-century hornwork, was located here. The present Esplanade was laid out as a parade ground in 1753, and extended in 1845. It is upon this Esplanade that public executions took place, and where the Edinburgh Military Tattoo now takes place annually.

From the Esplanade may be seen the Half Moon Battery, with the Royal Palace to its left, and the main gate below, which gives access to the Lower Ward.

The gatehouse was built as a cosmetic addition to the castle in 1888. Statues of Robert the Bruce by Thomas Clapperton, and William Wallace by Alexander Carrick, flanking the entrance were added in 1929, and the Latin motto Nemo me impune lacessit is inscribed above the gate. A dry moat in front of the entrance was completed in its present form in 1742. Within the gatehouse are offices, and to the north is the most recent addition to the castle; the ticket office, completed in 2008 to a design by Gareth Hoskins Architects.

The road, built by James III in 1464 for the transport of cannon, leads upward and around to the north of the Half Moon Battery and the Forewall Battery, to the Portcullis Gate, the entrance to the Middle Ward. In 1990, an alternative access was opened by digging a tunnel from the north of the esplanade to the north-west part of the castle, separating visitor and service traffic.

The Portcullis Gate was built by the Regent Morton after the Lang Siege of 1571 - 73 to replace the round Constable's Tower, which was destroyed in the siege. The Portcullis Gate was rebuilt in 1584 by William Schaw, when the upper parts were added, and again in 1750. In 1886 it was embellished by the architect Hippolyte Blanc.

Just inside the gate is the Argyle Battery overlooking Princes Street, with Mills Mount Battery, the location of the One O'clock Gun, to the west. Below these is the Low Defence, while at the base of the rock is the ruined Wellhouse Tower, built in 1362 to guard St. Margaret's Well. This natural spring provided and important secondary source of water for the castle, the water being lifted up by a crane mounted on a platform known as the Crane Bastion.

Adjacent to Mills Mount are the 18th-century cart sheds, now the tea rooms. The Governor's House to the south was built in 1742 as accommodation for the Governor, Storekeeper, and Master Gunner, and was used until the post of Governor became vacant in the later 19th century; it was then used by nurses of the castle hospital. Today, it functions as an officers' mess, and as the office of the Governor, since the restoration of the post in 1936.

South of the Governor's House is the New Barrack Block, completed in 1799 to house 600 soldiers, and replacing the outdated accommodation in the Great Hall. It now houses the headquarters of the 52nd Infantry Brigade, the Regimental Headquarters of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, and the Regimental Headquarters and Museum of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys). The latter was opened in 2006 by the regiment's Colonel, Queen Elizabeth II, after a refurbishment.

Also nearby, in the former Royal Scots drill hall, constructed in 1900, is the regimental museum of the Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment). The military prison was built in 1842 for the castle garrison and was extended in the 1880s. It was last used in 1923, when the garrison moved to Redford Barracks.

West of the Governor's House, a store for munitions was built in 1747 - 48, and this was later extended to form a courtyard, in which the main gunpowder magazine also stood. In 1897 the area was remodelled as a military hospital, formerly housed in the Great Hall.

A building to the south of this courtyard is now the National War Museum of Scotland, which forms part of the National Museums of Scotland. It was formerly known as the Scottish United Services Museum, and, prior to this, the Scottish Naval and Military Museum, when it was located in the Queen Anne Building. It covers Scottish military history over the past 400 years, and includes a wide range of military artefacts, such as uniforms, medals and weapons. The exhibitions also place emphasis on the history and causes behind the many wars Scotland has been involved in.

Beside the museum is Butts Battery, named for the archery butts, or targets, formerly placed here. Below it are the Western Defences, where a postern gate gives access to the western slope of the rock.

The Upper Ward occupies the highest part of the Castle Rock, and is entered from the Middle Ward via the late 17th-century Foog's Gate. The origin of this name is unknown, although it was formerly known as the Foggy Gate, which may relate to the dense sea-fog, known as haar, which commonly affects Edinburgh.

Adjacent to the gates are the reservoirs, built to reduce the castle's dependency on well water, and a former fire station, now used as a shop.

The summit of the rock is occupied by St Margaret's Chapel. The oldest building in the castle, and in Edinburgh, is this small Chapel. One of the few 12th-century structures surviving in any Scottish castle, it dates to the reign of King David I (ruled 1124 - 1153), who built it as a private chapel for the royal family and dedicated it to his mother, Saint Margaret of Scotland, who died in the castle in 1093. It survived the slighting of 1314, when the castle's defences were destroyed, and was used as a gunpowder store from the 16th century, when the present roof was built. In 1845, when it was "discovered" by the antiquary Daniel Wilson, it formed part of the larger garrison chapel, and was restored in 1851 - 1852. The chapel is still used for various religious ceremonies, such as weddings and christenings, with a capacity of approximately 25 people.

The 15th-century siege cannon known as Mons Meg is on display outside St. Margaret's Chapel. Mons Meg was constructed in Flanders on the orders of Philip III, Duke of Burgundy in 1449, and was given by him to his niece's husband, King James II in 1457. The 6,040-kilogram (13,300 lb) bombard faces north across the city, towards the Botanic Gardens, which lie 2 miles (3.2 km) distant. It was on the site of the gardens that one of the cannon's 150-kilogram (330 LB) gun stones was found to have landed, when it was fired from the Castle in celebration of the marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots, to the French dauphin François II in 1558. Mons Meg has been defunct since her barrel burst on 14 October 1681 when firing a birthday salute for the Duke of Albany.

On a ledge below this area is a small, 19th-century cemetery of soldiers' and regimental mascot dogs.

Beside this, the Lang Stair leads down to the Middle Ward, past a section of a medieval bastion, and gives access to the Argyle Tower.

The eastern end of the Upper Ward is occupied by the Forewall and Half Moon Batteries, with Crown Square to the south.

The Half Moon Battery, which remains a prominent feature on the east side of the castle, was built as part of the reconstruction works supervised by the Regent Morton, and was erected between 1573 and 1588. The Forewall to the north was built between 1689 and 1695, to link the Half Moon to the Portcullis Tower, although part of the original wall of 1540 was incorporated into it. The Half Moon Battery was built around and over the ruins of David's Tower, two storeys of which survive beneath, with windows facing out onto the interior wall of the battery. David's Tower was built on an L-plan, the main block being 15.4 by 11.6 metres (51 by 38 ft), with a wing measuring 6.3 by 5.6 metres (21 by 18 ft) to the west. The entrance was via a pointed-arched doorway in the inner angle, although in the 16th century this was filled in to make the tower a solid rectangle. Prior to the Lang Siege, the tower was recorded as being 18 metres (59 ft) high, and the remaining portions stand up to 15 metres (49 ft) from the rock.

The tower was rediscovered in 1912, and excavations below the Half Moon Battery revealed the extent of the surviving buildings. Several rooms are accessible to the public, although the lower (ground floor) elements are generally closed. Outside the tower, but within the battery, is a three-story room, where large portions of the exterior wall of the tower are visible, showing shattered masonry caused by the bombardment of 1573. Beside the tower, a section of the former curtain wall was discovered, with a gun loop which overlooked the High Street. A recess was made in the outer battery wall to reveal this gun loop. Also in 1912 - 1913, the adjacent Fore Well was cleared and surveyed, and was found to be 33.5 metres (110 ft) deep, and mostly hewn through the rock below the castle.

Crown Square, also known as Palace Yard, was laid out in the 15th century, during the reign of King James III, as the principal courtyard of the castle. The foundations were formed by a series of large stone vaults built onto the uneven Castle Rock in the 1430s. These vaults were used as a state prison until the 19th century, although more important prisoners were "warded" in the main parts of the castle. The square is formed by the Royal Palace to the east, the Great Hall to the south, the Queen Anne Building to the west, and the National War Memorial to the north.

The Royal Palace comprises the former royal apartments, which were the residence of the later Stewart monarchs. It was begun in the mid 15th century, during the reign of James IV, and it originally communicated with David's Tower.

The building was extensively remodelled for the visit of James VI to the castle in 1617, when state apartments for the king and queen were built. On the ground floor is the Laich (low) Hall, now called the King's Dining Room, and a small room, known as the Birth Chamber or Mary Room, where James VI was born to Mary, Queen of Scots, in June 1566, with commemorative decoration of 1617.

On the first floor is the vaulted Crown Room, built in 1615 to house the Honours of Scotland: the crown, the sceptre and the sword of state. The Stone of Scone, upon which the monarchs of Scotland were traditionally crowned, is also kept in the Crown Room, since its return to Scotland in 1996. To the south of the palace is the Register House, built in the 1540s to house state archives.

The Great Hall measures 29 by 12.5 metres (95 by 41.0 ft), and was the chief place of state assembly in the castle, although there is no evidence that the Parliament of Scotland ever met here, as is sometimes stated. Historians have disagreed over its dating, although it is usually ascribed to the reign of King James IV, and is thought to have been completed in the early years of the 16th century. The decorative carved stone corbels supporting the roof have Renaissance detailing, which shows that the arts in Scotland were relatively advanced at this time, and which has been compared to works at Blois, France, of around 1515. The hall still has its original hammerbeam roof, making it one of only two medieval halls in Scotland with its original roof. It houses a collection of armour and possesses fine stained-glass windows depicting coats of arms.

Following Oliver Cromwell's seizure of the castle in 1650, the Great Hall was converted into a barracks for his troops, and was subdivided into three storeys in 1737, to house 312 soldiers. Following the construction of the New Barracks in the 1790s, it became a military hospital until 1897. It was then restored by Hippolyte Blanc in line with contemporary ideas of medieval architecture.

The Great Hall is still sometimes used for ceremonial occasions.

To the south of the hall is a section of 14th century curtain wall, although with a later parapet.

The Queen Anne Building was named, unsurprisingly, after Queen Anne and built during the attempted invasion by the Old Pretender in 1708. In the 16th century, the are on which it stands housed the kitchens serving the adjacent Great Hall, and was later the site of the Royal Gunhouse. The Queen Anne Building was designed by Captain Theodore Dury, who also designed the eponymous Dury's Battery on the south side of the castle in 1713. The Queen Anne Building provided accommodation for Staff Officers, but after the departure of the army it was remodelled in the 1920s as the Naval and Military Museum, to complement the newly-opened Scottish National War Memorial. This later moved to the Middle Ward, and the building now houses a function suite and an education centre.

The medieval St. Mary's Church was rebuilt in 1366, and was converted into an armoury in 1540. It was demolished in 1755, and the masonry reused to build a new North Barrack Block on the site, which was vacated by the Army in 1923. It was then adapted by Sir Robert Lorimer as the Scottish National War Memorial, to commemorate Scots and those serving with Scottish regiments who had died in the First World War and subsequent conflicts. The conversion was formally opened on 14 July 1927. The exterior is decorated with gargoyles and sculpture, while the interior contains monuments to the individual regiments. Upon the altar is a casket containing rolls of honour, which list the names of the soldiers killed in the First World War. The stained-glass windows are by Douglas Strachan.

 

 

Edinburgh Castle - Fire Beacon

 

Edinburgh Castle - The Bruce

 
 

Edinburgh Castle - Cromwellian re-enactors in the Great Hall

 

Edinburgh Castle - Gun port with horizontal ranging

 
 

Edinburgh Castle - Canon

 
 

Edinburgh Castle - Aerial View

 

Edinburgh Castle - Renaissance Fortifications - the "Pepper pot" is very characteristic of the period.

 
 

Edinburgh Castle - Aerial View

 

Edinburgh Castle - At Night

 

Edinburgh Castle - At Night

 

 

 

 

 

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