Stirling Castle is one of the most important castles in all of the United Kingdom - and one of the things travelers should know before going to Scotland. Along with Warwick Castle in the Midlands in England, it is one of the fully maintained and living castles in the UK. Stirling Castle is one of the largest castles in Scotland and is has enjoyed a long and important role in the history of Scotland. Stirling Castle sits top the Stirling Sill and occupies a location that has long been vitally strategic in Scottish history.
History Of Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle is just a short drive from the stunning city of Edinburgh and Glasgow just out of Perth in the middle of the all-important Scottish Lowlands. While there have been fortifications here since the earliest times in Scottish history, most of the principal buildings actually inside the castle are from the 15th and 16th centuries. The outer defenses are from the early 18th century and some of the older remain structures are from as far back as the 14th century.
The history between England and Scotland has long been complicated - it is certainly not simply the incessant once sided wars as is seen in Mel Gibson's Braveheart with its calls of FREEDOM! The Scottish King James VI is better known as King James I. He was first the king of Scotland, then the king of England and Scotland in 1603. The monarchies of Scotland and England have been united ever since. Once the Scottish Monarch became king of England as well as Scotland, he moved his court to more important London where the monarchy has stayed ever since.
Before this unification, Stirling Castle was one of the many and important Scottish royal residences. Several Scottish Kings and Queens were coronated here - including Mary, Queen of Scots - King James' Mother.
In Stirling Castle's history, it has seen at least eight sieges. The last was when Bonnie Prince Charlie (descendant of King James) was claiming the throne in 1746 under the title of King Charles III - he failed.
Today most castles across the UK and all over Europe lay in ruins, but not so for the Stirling Castle. It is a great chance to really get to explore how life was like in the years gone by. So visitors to Stirling Castle will not be greeted with the customary ruins, but with a living castle, decorated with tapestries and the trappings of a functioning castle (museum).
In order to guarantee entry to Stirling Castle, tickets ought to be booked in advance.
Cost of Admission: £14.00 (Adult) ($20.00)
Hours Open: 9.30-18.00
The Stirling Tapestries
One of the greatest treasures inside the castle is the intricate and exquisite hand-woven tapestries. There are seven tapestries and they adorn the walls of the Queen's Inner Hall in the royal palace part of the castle.
They are based on the Hunt of the Unicorn series of tapestries that were created in the Low Countries around 500 years ago. Oddly enough if the traveler wants to see those old tapestries, they aren't in Europe but in the Metropolitan Museum of New York.
These were extremely labor-intensive and only the richest of the rich could afford these tapestries. The huge tapestries created for Sterling Castle to recreate the royal vibe took 13 years to complete at a cost of £2 million ($2.8 million).
The Palace Vaults
Every good castle has its vaults (Warwick has scary dungeons for kids who don't get nightmares). Stirling Castle's vaults lay beneath the palace and feature fun and interactive exhibitions. The exhibitions have been particularly tailored to younger visitors.
The vaults are divided into the Musicians Vault, the Painter's Vault, the Carvers Vault, the Tailor's Vault, and the Jester's Vault. All of these bring the past back to life.
The Castle Exhibition
The Castle Exhibition delves into the castle's story and history from its earliest origins to today. The exhibition is broken into four themes.
- The Wars Of Independence: In These Wars, The Castle Changed Hands 8 Times In 50 Years Between Scots And English. William Wallace And Robert The Bruce Of The Movie Braveheart Feature In These Wars
- The Royal Chapel Burials: Stories Of Mysterious Medieval Burials Beneath A Lost Royal Chapel
- Men Who Would Be King: About The Successful Scottish Kings James IV And V, And Unsuccessful James III
- Castle Artists: About Artists Like John Slezer, Jane Ferrier, And Robert Burns
Other Exhibits And Buildings
Other exhibits and parts of the castle and museum include:
- The Great Hall: Built For James IV Around 1503
- The Royal Palace: Shows Royal Life In The 1500s
- The Chapel Royal: Built 1593-1594 Last Royal Building Built
- The Great Kitchens: Where Royal Food Was Made
- Queen Anne Gardens: Stunning And Beautiful
- Galleries: Has Some Of Scotland’s great art treasures
- Regimental Museum: Of The History of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders