Parapet view

The preferred castle location: defensible, lofty, fortress position. From this massive castle hill, Edinburgh is laid out below, with occupation stretching to the Firth of Forth, where the River Forth melds with an arm of the North Sea. I loved this parapet, and the views.

Cannon view

Of course, the cannons also have a great view. BTW, that mass of people to the right of the barrel and far below, sweating in the sun…that’s the line to buy tickets. It’s a holiday weekend…plus for a while, three of the six windows were closed. Sheeesh.

StMargarets chapel

You can see a bit of the volcanic whatever that makes this feature extend far above the surrounding landscape. All the cannonballs and castle-terraforming have not eradicated or covered it. This building is the oldest one standing up here, a chapel dedicated to St. Margaret of Scotland (~1045–1093). It was built by her son, David I, previously mentioned in this space…. One of the fine things Margaret did was establish a ferry across the Firth of Forth. [Now there’s both a railroad and a road bridge.]

Honours sword

The most moving exhibit for me was our visit to the stronghold within the castle, where the Honours of Scotland are kept. These are the most symbolic objects in the nation. No photos/film allowed, so outside are bronze…not-quite-replicas. This is the claymore/sword (replica), which has a 4.5 foot blade. The real one is a bit more battered, and a bit sharper. Also in the room with the Honours is the Stone of Scone (I’ve seen pronunciation suggestions both as “soon” and to rhyme with done; haven’t heard anyone say it). I wanted to be more excited about this stone, for its history, but I couldn’t get there. The Stone has been used in coronations for something like eight centuries, customarily stored in the chair in which the sovereign sits when the coronation happens. It has a checkered history, and many doubt that this is the original. No matter; it remains very meaningful today. It was in England for recent centuries, and used in coronations there, and finally returned to Scotland in 1996. It’s not pretty, just rough, pitted sandstone, and suffers in comparison to the shiny and glittering sword, scepter, and crown in the same display.

Marys ceiling

This is the ceiling of the bedchamber of Mary, Queen of Scots. It’s a small room, with nice wood paneling. And a window. And paintings on the walls just below the ceiling. I have no idea what furniture was in this room; there’s just a chair now.

I kept trying to visualize the pre-Scottish fort that was here, and the earlier castle-layout(s). This castle is still in active use, for official activities, for rental, and of course for tourism. Outside the gate, they’re installing a huge seating gallery, using giant cranes to lift large steel I-beams into position. I didn’t catch what it’s for….

Seating underway

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