Stirling Castle

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Stirling Castle is the most historic castle in Scotland due to its location, in central Scotland from where many old military roads lead up into the highlands. The battles of Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn took place within 2 miles of the castle. Many Scottish Kings lived at Stirling Castle with its Palace, Great Hall and Chapel Royal.

Edinburgh Castle, 36 miles southeast on the coast, is also a Royal castle similar in size. The image below is from a large layby on the west side of Stirling Castle. The city of Stirling was built up around the north, east and south of the castle.

Stirling Castle image

The image below is from a seating area in the Old Graveyard on the south side of Stirling Castle. This area gives great views over the castle and large castle car park.

Stirling Castle south view image

The image below is from the car park looking at the entrance to Stirling Castle. The statue here is of King Robert the Bruce. This side of the castle has great views over the city of Stirling below. The large Wallace Monument can be seen high on a hill 2 miles east.

Stirling Castle Entrance image

The image below is of the Great Hall in Stirling Castle. The hall is painted in a colour named Kings Gold. This colour helps the building stand out, making the castle easy to see from miles off. The hall is said to have been built between 1501 to 1504 for James IV (Stuart).

Stirling Castle Great Hall image

The image below is of the Great Hall interior with its impressive Hammerbeam Roof. This was the largest ever built in Scotland at 138ft by 47ft. The Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle is 95ft by 41ft. This was the setting of the top celebrations from 1504 until James VI of Scotland became king of Scotland and England in 1603. Stuart Kings from that time were mainly based in London.

Stirling Castle Great Hall interior image

The image below is of the Chapel Royal in Stirling Castle that was built around 1594. This building replaced a smaller chapel from much earlier.

King James V died in December 1542. His 9 month old child Mary was crowned Queen of Scots in the old chapel on 9th September 1543.

This new chapel was intended to be the place of worship and for religious ceremonies of the Scottish Monarchy over the following centuries.

Stirling Castle Chapel Royal image

The image below is of the interior of the Chapel Royal at Stirling Castle. James VI son Henry was the first royal to be baptized here soon after the chapel was completed in 1594.

James VI was the only son of Mary Queen of Scots, who became King of Scotland in 1567, and King of England and Scotland from 1603 to 1625. After only 7 years, the chapel was never used again for the main purpose it was built. The Stuart Kings from then on were normally baptized, crowned and buried in London.

Stirling Castle Chapel Royal interior image

The image below is of the the Kings House built for James IV in the 1490s, situated next to the Chapel Royal in Stirling Castle.

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum is now located in this building. The Museum covers the regiments history from 1759 to the present day. The regiment was involved in the Napoleonic Wars 1803, Crimean War 1853, Second Boer War 1899, WWI 1914, WWII 1940, Falkland Islands 1986, and Iraq 2004.

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum image

The image below is of the Palace in Stirling Castle built from 1538 for James V after he married the daughter of the King of France, Mary de Guise. This building was built next to the Kings House as a grander residence for the Kings and Queens.

Stirling Castle Palace image

The image below is of the Kings Hall inside the Palace at Stirling Castle. There are many rooms in the palace to explore, including the magnificent Queen's Bedchamber, as seen bottom right.

The palace was built to impress the new queen, said to be comparable with the finest royal homes in France at that time.

Stirling Castle Palace interior image

The image below is looking southeast over the small City of Stirling. There are a number of other historic attractions around the castle in this old part of the city within a few minutes walk. There is also a hotel at the entrance popular for drinks and meals with a beer garden named the Portcullis. The shopping streets in the centre of Stirling are about a 10 minute walk downhill, a fair bit longer back up.

The Battle of Bannockburn Experience is situated 2 miles south, and Wallace Monument about 2 miles east. There are hop on hop off buses that run between the Train Station, Castle, Monument, and Bannockburn in the summer. Bus Information & Map . Stirling Page.

Stirling Town image

Stirling Castle History:

The large castles at Stirling and Edinburgh were built as Royal residences from the 1100s. These huge fortresses were needed as Scotland was at war for centuries with the Norse that had taken control of the far north of Scotland and Western Islands, and the English were fighting over areas in the south of Scotland. The English also tried to gain control of the whole of Scotland on a number of occasions.

Scottish Kings were also involved in battles with Clans around Scotland that wanted to control their own areas.

Marriage between Scottish and English royal families helped keep the peace at times. Marriage between Scots Clans also helped end decades or centuries of killings between Clans.

Scottish Clans had smaller castles or tower house, built to withstand attacks by other Clans.

Stirling Castle is built on Castle Hill in Central Scotland, at the gateway to the Highlands. This is the most strategic castle in Scotland from where the country could be controlled.

The first recorded wooden fort built on this site is in the 600s.

The first records of Stirling Castle are from when King Alexander I had a chapel built there and died at the castle in 1124. The early castle defenses would have been built mainly of wood.

King David I (1085 – 1153), son of Alexander I, used the castle as his Royal Residence.

King William I / William the Lion (1165 - 1214) formed a deer park to the southwest.

King William I was involved in wars with England over land in south Scotland and north England. He was also involved in wars with the Norse in the north of Scotland.

King William I died at Stirling Castle in 1214.

Alexander II (1214 - 1249) and Alexander III (1249 - 1286) used Stirling Castle at a time referred to as relatively peaceful.

Alexander III was credited with the withdrawal of the Norse from Scotland.

1286, the death of Alexander III, and that of his sole heir, the child Princess Margaret in 1290, left Scotland without a Monarch.

1291, King Edward I of England begins to pressure Scottish Nobles and Landowners into giving him their support so he could rule Scotland.

1296, Edward I of England invades Scotland and finds Stirling Castle abandoned. This time is referred to as the First War of Scottish Independence.

1297, Scots forces led by William Wallace and Andrew de Moray defeat an English army at Stirling Bridge on the east side of Stirling Castle. The Scots took the castle soon after.

1298, English forces led by Edward I defeat the Scots led by Wallace at Falkirk, 11 miles southeast of Stirling Castle. The English regain control of the Stirling Castle soon after.

1299, Scots forces of Robert the Bruce capture Stirling Castle.

1304, the English take control of Stirling Castle with the aid of a number of siege engines.

1314, Scots forces led by Robert the Bruce's brother Edward besiege Stirling Castle.

1314 June, the Scots led by Robert the Bruce defeat an English army at Bannockburn, 2 miles south of Stirling Castle. The Scots take Stirling Castle soon after and destroy its defenses so the English cannot use it again.

1328, the Treaty of Edinburgh is signed between the English and Scots that declared Robert the Bruce King of an independent Kingdom.

1329, Robert the Bruce dies and is succeeded by his son David II.

1332, war breaks out again with the English, referred to as the Second War of Scottish Independence.

1336, the English gain control of Stirling Castle and extend its fortifications. The castle defenses are still mainly built form timber at that time.

1342, Scots led by Robert Stuart retake Stirling Castle after a long siege. Robert Stuart was the grandson of Robert the Bruce.

1357, the Second War of Scottish Independence comes to and end with the Treaty of Berwick where the Scots agree to pay the English 100,000 merks over a ten-year period.

1371, Robert Stuart becomes King of Scotland as Robert II, beginning of the Stuart monarchs.

1371 - 1603, Stirling Castle defenses are rebuilt in stone by the nine Stuart monarchs that used the castle.

1452, James II stabbed and killed William, 8th Earl of Douglas at Stirling Castle after accusing him of being involved in a plot to overthrow the monarchy.

1501 - 1504, the Great Hall in Stirling Castle is built for James IV.

1538, the Royal Palace is built in Stirling Castle for James V.

1542 8th December, Mary Queen of Scots is born at Linlithgow Palace 18 miles southeast of Stirling Castle.

1542 14th December, James V, father of Mary Queen of Scots dies at Falkland Palace 34 miles northeast of Stirling Castle.

1543 9th September, the 9 month old child Mary was crowned Queen of Scots in the old chapel at Stirling Castle.

1566, Mary Queen of Scots gives birth to her son James at Edinburgh Castle, who became king James VI in 1567, aged only 13 months.

1567, James VI was christened at Stirling Castle.

1567 29 July, James was crowned King of Scotland at the Church of the Holy Rude next to Stirling Castle, and raised at the castle by his tutors.

1568, Mary Queen of Scots flees to England after uprisings of Scottish Nobles against her. Battles at the time were between forces loyal to the Catholic Mary, and Nobles in favour of the Protestant religion.

August 1586, the catholic Mary is imprisoned in England after being accused of plotting to overthrow the protestant English Queen Elizabeth I.

1587 8th February, Mary Queen of Scots is executed by beheading by her English captors for treason at Fotheringhay Castle in England.

The 21 year old James VI is advised not to react to his mothers execution, as he was next in line to become King of England, as Elizabeth I had no children.

1594, the new Royal Chapel is built in Stirling Castle for James VI.

1603, James VI becomes King of England and Scotland after the death of Elizabeth I, uniting the two countries. From this time on, the Stuart Kings are mainly based in England.

1642, the English Civil War breaks out after Charles I becomes unpopular, and Oliver Cromwell leads Parliamentarian forces to take control of the country.

1649, Charles I is executed by beheading at the Palace of Whitehall in London.

1650, Charles II is crowned by the Scots and lives at Stirling Castle.

1651 6th August, Stirling castle is attacked by the forces of Oliver Cromwell and is captured 8 days later.

1658, Oliver Cromwell dies, leading to Charles II being restored to the English throne in 1660.

1707 1st May, Queen Anne Stuart oversees England and Scotland united as Great Britain.

1714, the protestant Queen Anne Stuart dies without leaving an heir.

1714, the German born protestant George I is chosen as King of England and Scotland.

1714, government troops occupy Stirling Castle as forces around Great Britain fight to have the catholic James Stuart replace George I. This time was known as the First Jacobite Rising. This rising was unsuccessful.

1745, the Second Jacobite Rising, an attempt to have Charles Edward Stuart replace George II, saw government forces having to defend Stirling Castle from Jacobite attacks for a number of days.

1746 16th April, Government forces defeat Jacobite forces at the Battle of Culloden by Inverness, 144 miles north of Stirling Castle. This was the last battle on the British mainland.

1800 - 1964, Stirling Castle is used as barracks for the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Many of the buildings, Chapel, Great Hall and Palace were divided into rooms so they were more suitable for accommodating a large number of soldiers.

1964, Stirling Castle ceases to be used as a military base, then used as a tourist attraction.

1988, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum is opened in the Kings House.

1996, the Royal Chapel restoration is completed.

1999, the Great Hall restoration is completed.

2011, the Palace restoration is completed.

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