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Edinburgh CastleBuilt on Top Of A Volcano

Updated on September 3, 2020
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle
Map of Edinburgh Castle
Map of Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle in the beginning

Edinburgh Castle is truly a medieval monument to history. But, in the Middle Ages, it was a small fort called Dun Eiden. It was built by God Odin on top of a volcano called Castle Rock. The volcano had erupted some 340 million years ago and has been dormant thus far. The Angles tribe attacked the fort and invaded it for their own. They took the name Eiden, joining it with Burth, thus making it Edinburgh. It was recaptured and claimed by the Scots in 1018. Archaeologists have discovered human remains belonging to the bronze age about 850 B.C.

King David, I started building Edinburgh in the twelfth century. He first built Margaret's Chapel in honor of his mother, Queen Margaret (later a saint), who died in 1093, days after her husband King Malcolm III and their son were killed in battle. It is said she was so grief-stricken she died of a broken heart. Queen Margaret was also known as the 'Pearl of Scotland.'

Margaret was known for her charity with the poor and children, and her devotion to the church. Her husband so admired her dedication he decorated her book in gold and silver. Her prayer book is on display in the Bodielan Library, Oxford, England. Margaret's Chapel was restored in the 19th century and refurbished in the 1990s. It was also the only structure to be saved when Robert the Bruce captured the castle in 1314.

Over the years, the castle has housed many different Royals, has had numerous sieges resulting in changes of ownership. It has gone through revisions and reconstructions. Today, Edinburgh Castle is an extraordinary historical palace open for visitors. It has been replaced as a Royal Palace by the building of Holyrood Palace. Holyrood was built from the Abbey started by King David I, then King James IV converted it into Royal Chambers. Again, renovations were added by James V, James VI, and Charles II.

St. Margaret's Chapel
St. Margaret's Chapel
Interior St. Margaret's Chapel
Interior St. Margaret's Chapel

Short Timeline of Edinburgh Castle

  • 1295 Edward I invades Scotland
  • 1314 Robert the Bruce captures Edinburgh
  • 1350 David's Tower built for Royal residence
  • 1440 The Black Dinner
  • 1510 The Great Hall built by King James IV
  • 1566 Mary, Queen of Scots gives birth to King James VI
  • 1571 Lang Seige, David's Tower destroyed
  • 1650 Oliver Cromwell invades Scotland
  • 1707 Act of Union, Scotland, and England join to become Great Britain
  • 1818 Sir Walter Scott discovers Scotland's jewels, Honours

1440 Black Dinner
1440 Black Dinner

1440 Black Dinner

A special invite to dinner was made to the sixteen-year-old Earl of Douglas and his younger brother to dine with ten-year-old King James II. Sir William Crichton and Alexander Livingston were troubled with the power of the Douglases. During the dinner, a tray with the head of a black bull was placed on the table. This was the sign of death. The boys were dragged out to the courtyard, held a trial, and were beheaded before young King James. Shortly after that, Clan Douglas attacked the castle.

The Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle

The Great Hall was built by King James IV. The craftsmanship was superb, and the ceiling was done in hand-crafted wood. So that he could spy on anyone, he had holes made around the room known as 'lairds lugs.' Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was set to visit in 1984, and hearing about the holes, and he insisted they be bricked closed. And, in 1650, when Oliver Cromwell invaded Scotland, he turned the Great Hall into a barracks.

Great Hall
Great Hall

Notes about Edinburgh Castle

There have been ghosts in the castle that are still supposedly heard. One is about the headless drummer boy who strolled around the castle without his head, and no one knows who he was or where he came from. Then, there is the ghost of the lone piper. Secret tunnels are throughout the castle, and the keepers wanted to find out where they went, so they had the little piper go into the tunnel blowing his pipes so they could trace his steps. Suddenly, the pipes stopped. A rescue party was sent in to look for him, yet he had vanished and was never seen again. Some swear they hear the pipes even today.

Over the years, the Palace has been ransacked numerous times, has held prisoners held in the dungeons, the birth of a king, ghosts, jewels lost, and regained. Hundreds of witches burned at the stake just outside the castle. Years and years of medieval history.

Each year two million visitors wander through Edinburgh Castle. It is a massive tour and can take 2-3 hours to see it all. The Castle remains one of the most visited in all of Scotland.

Holyrood Castle 1778
Holyrood Castle 1778
Holyrood Castle, 19th Century
Holyrood Castle, 19th Century

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