Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

One of the most impressive sights you will see in Edinburgh is that of the castle. Perched atop a volcanic hunk of rock, a forbidding and dramatic monster of a structure, the castle appears to watch over all who fall within its long shadows. Witness to many a bloody battle, murderous activities and public executions aplenty, grave robbing and all those crimes of desperation and depravity, Scotland’s favourite tourist attraction commands an audience from all who pass it. One can’t help but wonder if the castle could talk, what would it say and more to the point, would we want to hear the ghastly tales it could tell. (I like to think the castle would prefer to keep a tight lip!)

People have occupied this rock for many years as early records show a settlement here in the ninth century BC. What is more, the city’s oldest building is found within the castle, that of St Margaret’s Chapel built around the twelfth century.

The approach to the castle is via the sloping Esplanade parade ground. You will recognise it immediately as the much trampled venue of the Military Tattoo that you watch on your telly every year. Each year over one hundred million viewers tune their televisions into the event from all corners of the globe. The best way however to enjoy the Tattoo is to grab yourself a ticket for the event when you are down for the Edinburgh Festival.

Another tradition that is carried out from the battlements of the castle is that of the One O’Clock Gun. About lunchtime, as soon as you notice those hunger pangs taking a hold, steady yourself not to jump at the deafening boom of the cannon being fired. The One O’Clock Gun was instigated to provide ships off the Fife shores with an accurate time call. It proved a useful thing that the gun was loud for the sea was and in fact, still is, several miles away. Give me the dulcet tones of the Speaking Clock any day, she’s much easier on the old lug holes! Oh and by the way, expect the gun to go off every day except Sunday and if you’re up on the Royal Mile around lunchtime, remember to have those cotton wool balls at the ready.

When up at the castle, and in the mood for another cannon, don’t forget to have a look round for the great Mons Meg. A powerful siege gun, she dates back to the fifteenth century having arrived in Scotland as a gift for the King and Queen. Generally used in war against the English you can bet the English weren’t too happy about this particular present for the Scottish monarchy, they might have preferred a set of tablecloths or something nice like that. Weighing six tons, Mons Meg can consistently be found next to St Margaret’s Chapel facing northwards across the city.

Deep within the confines of the outer defence walls of Edinburgh Castle, inside the Crown Room is treasure beyond your imagination in the form of some Crown Jewels. Within much fortified vaults are the Honours of Scotland; the crown, sceptre, sword of state as well as the ‘Stone of Scone’. The latter (otherwise known as the ‘Stone of Destiny’)is considered the most valuable of all the jewelled contents for upon this, the royalty of Scotland are traditionally crowned. In the event of a coronation at Westminster Abbey, the Stone is transported to London and then returned to Edinburgh for safe keeping.

Today, the castle is expertly handled and preserved by the organization, ‘Historic Scotland’. There is an educational facility within the castle as well as a gift shop, a cafe and a restaurant.

Opening Times:

1st April - 30th September

Monday – Sunday (9.30am - 5.30pm)

1st October - 31st March
Monday – Sunday (9.30am - 4.30pm)

Sorry, Edinburgh Castle is closed between Christmas Day and Boxing Day.