ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Travel and Places»
  • Visiting Europe»
  • United Kingdom

Edinburgh Castle Review

Updated on September 18, 2017

The Castle at Edinburgh at Castlehill

Edinburgh Castle is located on the top of Castlehill.  This photo was taken on a rainy day from the lower street parking lot.  The castle looks like a foreboding fortress from this view.
Edinburgh Castle is located on the top of Castlehill. This photo was taken on a rainy day from the lower street parking lot. The castle looks like a foreboding fortress from this view. | Source

The Castle on the Hill

Edinburgh Castle is a very popular visitor site, as we learned from the extremely long line (the queue) of tourists waiting to purchase tickets to enter and tour this multi-centuries old fortress.

On the day we went to tour the castle, it was overcast and rainy. Not usual weather for July we were told. The castle itself was built on volcanic rock. It is known as Castle Rock. People were living on that site as early as 900 BC.

The castle was dated back to at least the 12th century. It is still maintained by a small military garrison and the "Honours of Scotland" are on display there. They are better known as the Scottish Crown Jewels, the crown, scepter, and sword of state. They are the oldest symbols of royalty in the United Kingdom.

The scepter dates back to 1494. It was a gift from Pope Alexander VI to the Scottish King James IV, the grandfather of Mary, Queen of Scots.

The Sword of State was another gift to King James IV from Pope Julius II in 1507. Pope Julius is also the same pope that commissioned the infamous artist Michelangelo to paint the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The sword's blade is broken in two pieces. The myth surrounding this relates to the Legend that required the bearer to break the sword down into smaller pieces in order to hide it. The broken sword, the crown, and scepter were all placed in a parcel used to sneak them past Oliver Cromwell's army in 1652.

The current crown dates back to 1540 when King James V had it refashioned as the previous crown was damaged.

Edinburgh Castle

A markerEdinburgh Castle -
Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh EH1 2NG
get directions

The Chapel

The most notable part of the castle tour for us was the 12th century St. Margaret's Chapel.

We heard that it is still used today by military officers for wedding ceremonies.

The chapel itself has some very ornate stained glass windows, but it is quite small. I imagine most of the wedding party stands outside. If you did stand outside the chapel, you would be facing the very dominating figure of the infamous Mons Meg. It is a six ton, 15th century cannon that fired 330 pound "gun stones".

St. Margaret's Chapel

Photograph taken from  inside the small chapel at the castle.  This chapel is adorned by small, narrow stained glass windows and the necessary alter, candle, and paraments.  The seating space is very limited.
Photograph taken from inside the small chapel at the castle. This chapel is adorned by small, narrow stained glass windows and the necessary alter, candle, and paraments. The seating space is very limited. | Source

Did you know - this Medieval Castle Still Hosts a Contingent of Active Military Personnel?

See results

William Wallace

The Stain Glass of Sir William Wallace adorning the wall at St. Margaret's Chapel.
The Stain Glass of Sir William Wallace adorning the wall at St. Margaret's Chapel. | Source

Scot Pride

The castle also boasts the location of the "National War Museum of Scotland". We found several old ledgers located throughout the reception hall that lists every Scot who fought in battle. We are allowed to sort through them to locate ancestors. We saw several other tourists searching through these manuscript replicas for their own ancestors.

At 1 o'clock every day, the onsite active military performs a traditional ceremonial firing of the cannon. The cannon overlooks Princes street and tends to scare the unsuspecting tourist when it is fired. We had the opportunity to watch from the heights of the castle as people on the street scattered and jumped in response to the loud "boom". Oh what fun that was!

We were told that in the old days the firing of the cannon was the official clock time and all the residents would adjust their own clocks to match it.

If you happen to be in Edinburgh during August of each year, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place at the castle. It is a parade of the pipes and drums of the Scottish military. We were too early to witness the Tattoo, but I am sure we would have enjoyed that parade very much.

A Street in Edinburgh

Edinburgh street view shows the historic architecture buildings that are still in use.  the pedestrian sidewalks are quite large in comparison to the amount of space offered to the automobiles.
Edinburgh street view shows the historic architecture buildings that are still in use. the pedestrian sidewalks are quite large in comparison to the amount of space offered to the automobiles. | Source

Other Notable Items

The view from the heights of the castle is marvelous. There is a panoramic view of the city of Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth (Bay of Forth).

The city itself is quite old. The buildings, statues, and Kirks (Churches) are all built from stone or marble. Most of the streets still show that they were made out of cobblestone.

We walked almost everywhere in the city, the Royal Botanic Gardens, and underground Edinburgh at King Mary's Close. King Mary's Close is a series of hidden streets from the 17th century. The Tour of the Close consisted of walking underground in a medieval street that is covered by the current Royal Mile. It harbors a very interesting set of displays and history with focus on the Black Plague and the strange looking apparatus the doctors wore while treated the victims. Hint: It gives you an idea of where the word "quack" comes from.

July 2017 update:

We had the opportunity to revisit the City of Edinburgh on our second trip to Scotland. This time, we rode the train into the city from Esk Valley station. It was a very nice train ride that deposited us near the main attractions and shops. This trip, in addition to walking and shopping on the main streets, we also visited the Museum of Scotland. This museum is free and HUGE. Plan to spend all day there if you get the chance to see it.

The Greyfriars Bobby Memorial

The Legend of the Most Loyal Pet.  This fountain-type memorial offered a lower drinking plate for the local animals to also refresh themselves.
The Legend of the Most Loyal Pet. This fountain-type memorial offered a lower drinking plate for the local animals to also refresh themselves. | Source

Let Us Not Forgot Bobby

Lastly, any trip to Edinburgh would not be complete without exploring the Greyfriars Kirkyard, where the legend of Greyfriars Bobby came from.

As the legend goes, John Grey was a night watchman for the Edinburgh Police Department. He and Bobby, a Skye Terrier, were inseparable for two years before John Gray died in 1858.

He was buried in the Greyfriars Kirkyard. The Legend says that Bobby stayed at his grave site for the next fourteen years. It was rumored that he only left the grave to eat food provided by locals.

In 1857, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh paid for Bobby's dog license to prevent him from being destroyed. Bobby then became the responsibility of the Council. Bobby died 5 years later and is buried in the gate area of Greyfriars Kirkyard. As a dog, he could not be buried in the actual graveyard.

Currently, there is a statue with a fountain dedicated to Bobby on the street near where he is buried. The fountain contains a lower bowl to allow for dogs passing by to be able to drink from this memorial.

I especially enjoyed visiting the memorial and nearby Kirkyard as I had heard the story of Greyfriars Bobby and had seen the Disney movie as a child.

See pictures below:

The Greyfriars Kirkyard

The Kirkyard (or churchyard) where Bobby stood by his master's grave for years....as the Legend says.  It is interesting to notice the larger grave stones (which look like mantles) that are backed up to the residential houses on the right side.
The Kirkyard (or churchyard) where Bobby stood by his master's grave for years....as the Legend says. It is interesting to notice the larger grave stones (which look like mantles) that are backed up to the residential houses on the right side. | Source

Fun Fact

Fun Fact: The Scots did not convert entirely to the metric system. Even though we purchased beverages and petrol by the liter, all the current road signs still use the standard mileage as the distance measurement as opposed to metric kilometers.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Robilo2 profile image
      Author

      Lori Robinson 2 years ago

      Thanks OldBuddy. We hope to go back next year and take more photos!

    • profile image

      OldBuddy 2 years ago

      I enjoyed reading your review, it made me feel like I was there and your selection of photos was very tasteful. Thanks for your effort.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)