Be sure to visit the Museum of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and read the soldiers’ letters home during the World Wars
One of Scotland’s most historic castles, Stirling Castle sits atop an extinct volcano near the city of Edinburgh. Surrounded on three sides by precipitous cliffs, its a formidable defensive position. There have been at least eight sieges of Stirling Castle - all bloody, and rarely successful - with the last in 1746 by Bonnie Prince Charlie.
The site’s military importance has been recognised for centuries: some speculate that a fortress has existed here since before the Romans arrived. The current castle dates from the late 14th to 16th century when it was a magnificent residence of the Stuart monarchy.
Now the castle has been recently restored to look as it would have done then, just as it was completed by James V’s French masons. A highlight is the Royal Palace, which is a true demonstration of the luxuries of 17th century royal life. Fine fireplaces and exquisitely carved oak fill its six rooms - three for the King and three for the Queen - while an astounding reproduction of a series of tapestries depicting the hunt of a unicorn make for extraordinary decorations.
James IV, who reigned 1488-1513, kept a full Renaissance court at Stirling. He wanted to establish is as a palace of European standing, and this meant having a few mad alchemists too. If a satirical poem by the poet William Dunbar is based in fact, the castle walls may have been the site of an attempt at human-powered flight by the Italian alchemist John Damian. He broke his thigh.
The Ladies of Stirling Castle
Stirling has no shortage of female phantoms. They are an unusually colourful bunch: the Blue Lady, the Pink Lady, the White Lady, and, perhaps most famously, the Green Lady. It is said the Green Lady was the daughter of a Commander of the fortress who threw herself from Elphinstone Tower onto the cruel rocks below when her father ended her inappropriate romance by shooting her suitor.
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