Tuesday 14 August 2018

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is situated on a rocky outcrop in the heart of the Old Town in Edinburgh. This historic fortress, which dominates the skyline of the city has existed since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century. Unfortunately much of the old castle was destroyed in the 16th century but was subsequently rebuilt and still stands proudly today. From the 15th century its role as a residence declined and by the 17th century it was being used as a military barracks. The castle was one of the most important strongholds in Scotland and was involved in many conflicts suffering as many as twenty six sieges.

During the reign of Malcom III and his sons King Edgar and King David I, Edinburgh Castle became one of the most significant royal centres in Scotland. King David I developed Edinburgh as a seat of royal power. Although most buildings in the castle would have been of timber, St Margaret's Chapel was made of stone. In 1174 King William the Lion was captured by the English and his release was only secured by surrendering the castles at Berwick, Roxburgh, Stirling and Edinburgh to King Henry II. The English occupied the castle until 1186 when it was returned to William as a dowry for his English bride. 

In 1296 Edward I invaded Scotland, starting the First War of Scottish Independence and after 3 days of bombardment captured the castle moving many of the royal treasures and legal records to England. Edward I died in 1307 and in 1314 the castle was recaptured. In 1333 Edward III invaded Scotland, thus starting the Second War of Scottish Independence. The castle was again captured and held by the English until 1341 when it was was again recaptured.

In 1357 when the Treaty of Berwick brought the Wars of Independence to a close David II rebuilt the castle and used it as his principle seat of government. During the 15th century the Royal Apartments and Great Hall were built and access to the castle widened and improved. During this time the castle was used as an arsenal and armaments factory. At the end of the fifteenth century King James IV built Holyrood Palace which became his main residence and the castle was used less as the royal home.

After the death of James IV at Flodden in 1513 his son, 5yr old James V was brought to the castle for safety. His daughter, Mary Queen of Scots married Henry Stuart Lord Darnley and their son, the future James VI of Scotland and James I of England was born at the castle in 1566.

Shortly after the murder of her husband Mary married James Hepburn one of the chief murder suspects and in 1568 she was forced to abdicate. In the following years Intermittent cicil war continued between the supporters of Mary and those of her son, James VI. The castle became occupied by supporters of Mary and a stand off lasting two years commenced. This became known as the 'Lang Siege". In 1573 Grange, a supporter of Mary started bombarding the town from the castle. Other supporters had surrendered but Grange continued until English troops arrived in the city and began bombarding the castle. Considerable damage was caused and Grange eventually surrendered.

Much of the castle was rebuilt including Davids Tower and The Half Moon Battery. James VI departed to become King of England and it was not until the early 17th century that repairs were carried out to the palace block in preparation for his return. His son Charles I visited and stayed at the castle only once. The castle was again besieged for three months, suffering further damage  before surrendering to Oliver Cromwell. In 1660 Charles II ordered that a garrison was continually maintained at the castle, which continued until 1923.  In the early 1700's a major strengthening of the defences was carried out and the castle saw it's last military action in 1745 during the second jacobite rising. Over the following century further buildings were added and the castle vaults were used to hold prisoners of war.

During the 1900's restoration work was carried out and parts of the castle opened to the public. During both the first and second world wars prisoners were held in the castle and in 1923 the last troops moved out.

Edinburgh Castle is a magnificent castle steeped in history and is a fantastic place to become immersed in Scottish history.

The Room Where James IV Was Born


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