Edinburgh Castle

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Edinburgh Castle is a a large fortress in the centre of Edinburgh in Scotland. The image top is from the Scott Monument looking south along Princes Street, and Princes Street Gardens with Edinburgh Castle sitting high above.

The top attractions in Edinburgh Castle are the Palace, Great Hall, Crown Jewels, St Margaret's Chapel, National War Memorial building, Military Museum, Prison Cells, huge Mons Meg cannon, 1 O'clock gun that is fired each day, Soldier’s Dog Cemetery, and amazing views in all directions from the ramparts.
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The earliest parts of Edinburgh Castle were built for David I in the 1100s. The tiny St Margaret's Chapel is the oldest remaining building in the castle from the 1100s in honor of his mother Saint Margaret.

Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle 36 miles northwest, are two similar large fortresses, both built as Royal residences, and to control Scotland.

Most of the Edinburgh Castle that can be seen today was built from the late 1500s, as the earlier defenses were damaged by English cannon during wars between Scotland and England.

The wars were over Mary Queen of Scots, first in an attempt to have her mary Henry VIII of England's son, then later to have her removed as Queen.

James VI became King of Scotland in 1567, after his mother Mary Queen of Scots was forced to abdicate. This led to more peaceful times with James becoming King of England and Scotland in 1603.

The Great Hall in Edinburgh Castle was completed in 1511, and the Palace around 1615. The Scottish Crown Jewels are displayed in the Palace. They are in a small room where no photos are allowed.

The statues of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace were placed at each side of the entrance to the castle in 1929.

History of Edinburgh Castle

Early Kings of Scotland were descendants of Malcolm III (Canmore) 1031 – 1093.

These were the first Kings to control most of Scotland. Before this time, many areas of Scotland had different rulers.

Malcolm III and his wife Margaret, later Saint Margaret, used Dunfermline Abbey and Palace as their main Royal residence, now a partial ruin.

1100s - Edinburgh Castle is built for David I to serve as a secure Royal residence and military fortress.

1100s - Stirling Castle is also built to serve as another secure Royal residence and military fortress 35 miles west of Edinburgh. Stirling Castle Palace and Great Hall are slightly larger than the ones at Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh and Stirling castles were ideally situated from where to control most of Scotland.

1153 - King Malcolm IV is the first king to use Edinburgh Castle as his main Royal residence.

1174 to 1186 - the English took control of Edinburgh Castle after capturing King William the Lion at the Battle of Alnwick.

Scots/ English wars at that time were over where the border should be between the countries.

1286 - the death of King Alexander III without leaving an heir led to the Wars of Scottish Independence. This was the end of the Canmore Kings.

Edward I of England took this opportunity to gain control of Scotland. Edinburgh Castle changed hands a few times until the Treaty of Berwick was signed in 1357, ending the wars.

Robert the Bruce became King of Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence, with his descendants being the Stuart Kings that ruled most of the time until 1714.

1430s, Sir William Crichton was the Keeper of Edinburgh Castle for the boy King James II Stuart. Crichton had William Douglas and his younger brother David executed at Edinburgh Castle after inviting them to have dinner with James II.

The killings were believed to have been because the Douglas Clan were regarded as too powerful, suspected of wanting to overthrow the king, and they were the neighbouring Clan of the Crichton's, with long running feuds between the two Clans.

1420s - work to build Linlithgow Palace 18 miles west of Edinburgh begins. This was to be a much larger Palace than could be built inside a castle.

1430s - construction of the Palace at Edinburgh Castle begins.

1457 - the huge cannon Mons Meg arrives at Edinburgh Castle for part of its defenses.

1458 - the Great Hall is completed at Edinburgh Castle.

1530s - Linlithgow Palace is completed as a vast Royal residence with little defense. The Palaces in Edinburgh and Stirling castles are still used, especially during times of conflict.

1540s - wars with England begin over Mary Queen of Scots. Edward VIII of England wanted Mary to mary his son so Scotland and England could be united.

1567 - James VI became King of Scotland after Scottish Nobles forced his mother Mary Queen of Scots to abdicate.

1603 - James VI Stuart of Scotland becomes King James I of England as well, uniting the two countries.

1633 - King Charles I Stuart visited Edinburgh Castle to host a feast in the Great Hall for his Scottish coronation, the last time a reigning monarch stayed in the castle.

1640s - Linlithgow Palace falls into disrepair.

1640s - wars break out in England and Scotland over religion. Edinburgh Castle changes hands a few times to various forces in this period.

The Reformation of the late 1500s saw Christian Catholicism become illegal, being replaced by Christian Protestantism.

Protestantism split into a number of forms, with Anglican adopted by most churches in England, with the King head of these churches.

Presbyterian was adopted by most churches in Scotland, with elders the head of these churches.

1630s, the Presbyterian elders were accused of running Scotland from this time. Their followers were known as Covenanters.

1639, Charles I, king of England and Scotland, attempted to force his Anglican beliefs on the Scots, so he could gain more control over Scotland.

This led to the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, between Scotland, England and Ireland, leading to the Stuart's being removed from power and the English Civil War.

Edinburgh Castle changed hands a number of times during these conflicts with the Covenanters taking control twice.

1660, Charles II Stuart is restored to the throne of Scotland and England, leading to more peaceful times.

Charles II bases a full time army at Edinburgh Castle at this time. The castle is then used to hold high profile prisoners, thought to be involved in plots to overthrow the Royals.

1678 - Holyrood Palace is completed about 1 mile north of Edinburgh Castle, becoming the main Royal residence in Scotland.

1687 - James II, king of England and Scotland, brought an end to fighting over religion by allowing all to serve God in their own way and manner.

1707 - the Acts of Union merged the English and Scottish Parliaments. This led to Edinburgh becoming one of four Scottish castles permanently garrisoned by a new British Army, the others being Stirling, Dumbarton and Blackness.

1714 - Queen Anne Stuart dies without leaving an heir, leading to her German cousin George I Hanover being elected King of Great Britain.

This led to a series of wars as a number of Stuart's believed they had a greater claim to the throne.

1715 to 1746 - the Jacobite Risings took place in an attempt to restore Stuart's to the throne of Great Britain. Edinburgh Castle was attacked a number of times during the risings, but was never taken.

1746 - the Kings Hanoverian troops defeat the Jacobite's at the Battle of Culloden, the last major battle on the British mainland, ending any hopes of the Stuart's regaining the throne.

1818 - Sir Walter Scott searched Edinburgh Castle and found the Crown of Scotland in a sealed room.

1845 - Edinburgh Castle and the Crown Jewels are opened to the public, becoming by far the most visited attraction in Scotland. Edinburgh Castle may be the second most visited attraction in the UK, after the Tower of London.

1996 - the Stone of Scone also known as the Stone of Destiny, was returned to Scotland so it could be displayed next to the Crown Jewels in Edinburgh Castle.

This was the Coronation Stone of many Scottish Kings. It was taken by the English forces of Edward I from Scone Abbey in 1296. It was kept at Westminster Abbey in London for 700 years.

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