Stirling Travel Blog› entry 11 of 12 › view all entries
July 12th, 2007 – by: mellemel8
Stirling Castle is a castle in Stirling, one of the largest and most important, both historically and architecturally, in Scotland and indeed Western Europe. The Castle sits atop the Castle Hill, a volcanic crag, and is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, making it easily defensible. This fact, and its strategic position, have made it an important fortification from the earliest times. The Castle is a national monument, and is managed by Historic Scotland.
It is the headquarters of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders regiment, although the regiment is no longer garrisoned there.
Most of the principal buildings of the Castle date from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. A few structures of the fourteenth century remain, while the outer defences fronting the town date from the early eighteenth century. In the 13th Century Edward I's Scottish campaign included a siege on Stirling Castle. Historians recorded that this was where Warwolf, the largest trebuchet believed built, was first used, with devastating effect.
The gatehouse providing entry from the outer defences to the Castle proper was erected by King James IV and originally formed part of a splendid fore-front extending across the whole width of the Rock. At either end of this were massive rectangular blockhouses, and in the centre, flanking the gateway, were four great “rounds” with conical roofs.
During the Civil War the Castles garrison, who were flying the Kings colours fired on the Marquis of Argyll when he made his escape from the Battle of Stirling (1648).
To the left of the gatehouse, and forming the south side of the principal or upper court, is the Palace block. This was begun by King James IV, but is mainly the work of King James V. With its combination of renaissance and late gothic detail, it is one of the most architecturally impressive buildings in Scotland, covered with fine stonework. The ceiling of the King’s Presence Chamber was originally decorated with the famous portrait roundels known as The Stirling Heads, but these were taken down in 1777.
On the east side of the upper court is the Great Hall built by James IV, recently restored to its original appearance after many decades' use as a barracks. It is 125 feet long and 36 feet wide, with two magnificent oriel windows flanking the dais at the southern end. The small building on its cast side is the old Mint or Cunzie (ie. 'coining') Hoose. The renaissance Chapel Royal on the north side of the upper court was built by King James VI in 1594 for the state christening of his son and heir Prince Henry, on the site of the medieval Chapel Royal.
The image of the castle appears on the reverse of a Clydesdale Bank £20 note.
The Castle esplanade (parade ground) has been used as an open-air concert venue for several noted acts, who use the Castle and the surrounding scenery to film "in concert" DVDs. Recent acts include R.E.M., Ocean Colour Scene, Bob Dylan, Wet Wet Wet, and Runrig. The esplanade also hosts the city's hogmanay celebrations.
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