2 On The Road Blog

After 12 years of full-time rving, we've sold our truck and trailer but we're still traveling. Email us at wowpegasus@hotmail.com if you would like to contact us.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Scotland - Stirling Castle

Our favorite of all the castles we visited was Stirling.  Probably because much effort has been made to decorate it as it would have been in the sixteenth century.  As with all castles, their history, or at least the history of the site they occupy, goes back many centuries before the building of the castle itself.

We entered through the first of three defensive walls.

The Inner Gate is the second layer of fortification.

Upon passing through the forework gatehouse, we entered the Outer Close with the Royal palace (1530's) to the left,

the Great Hall (1503) right in front of us, and

a gun battery to the right.

Along the wall to the right was the main Guard House.

Just to the left of the main guard house is the Three Gun Battery.

It presently looks out over the Stirling Kirkyard
As you can see, the Great Hall is undergoing renovations.  It was built in the early years of the 16th century and witnessed feasts for the coronations of James V and Mary Queen of Scots, as well as for the baptisms of Mary’s son (later James VI) and her grandson (Prince Henry).

The two statues on top are interesting.

The Unicorn represents Scotland

And the Lion represents England

We entered the upper close through a walkway between the Royal Palace and the Great Hall.  The Royal Palace is to our left (but not visible in this photo).  The King's Old Building (complete by around 1497) is right in front of us. The building visible on the right is the Royal Chapel (1594).  Not visible on the right is the Great Hall.  That's our next stop.

Completed in 1503, the Great Hall was the largest secular space in medieval Scotland.  This building witnessed feasts for the coronations of James V and Mary Queen of Scots, as well as for the baptisms of Mary’s son (later James VI) and her grandson (Prince Henry). On a day-to-day basis in the 16th century, however, it was where the lower tiers of the royal household ate.  The original hamerbeam roof was removed in 1800 when the hall was subdivided to form barracks. When the army left in 1965 a historically correct restoration began which was completed in 1999.

Next we headed back out to the Inner Close where our next tour would be of the Royal Chapel


Back out in the Inner Close, we took time to really look at this face of the Royal palace.  On it are over 200 statues of soldiers,  the Devil, St Michael, and representations of Venus and other classical gods and goddesses.
Of course the statue taking the most prominent place is the one of King James V himself.

Back through the Great Hall, we entered a door to the right of the stage.

These stairs went up and then over the outside portal between the Outer and Inner Closes then proceeded into the Royal Palace.  The Royal Palace has benefited the most from renovation efforts.

The Royal Palace is divided in half, one side for the king and one side for the queen, with each containing three rooms. 
 Decorations would have been of the best quality to impress upon visitors that they were among royalty.

The ceiling of the King's Inner Hall was originally decorated with a series of carved oak portrait roundels known as the Stirling Heads.  The carvings were taken down following a ceiling collapse in 1777 but artists have recreated all of them, and they are what we see today. 

The Putti are dancing male children, symbols of love.  There's a museum in the castle containing some of the original "heads".  They cover a wide variety of topics including the ancestry of the king, mythical figures, literary characters and even the court jester. 


Another impressive ceiling.

Look closely at the tapestries on the wall.  There's a museum in the castle dedicated to this recreation of the originals.

Close up of the unicorn in captivity.

The ceiling.

Another one of the tapestries


There was a section of the castle dedicated more to younger visitors but I found it interesting.

Particularly this display showing the many layers of clothing worn by royalty of the Renaissance era.

Outside we walked behind the Royal Chapel.

From there we could see into the Nether Bailey

Only way to get there was to go back to the Outer Close and through the North Gate.

The Nether Bailey contained the museum about the recreation of the castle tapestries.  Very interesting reading.  It took 13 years to weave the tapestries!

The tapestries were weaved sideways!

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