A Tour of Edinburgh Castle (With Its View of the City As Seen by Mary Queen of Scots) and the Napoleonic War Barracks  

Posted by Heidi


Our first full day in Edinburgh began with a coach tour during which I failed to snap a single photo.  It is very sad, indeed, because we parked below the window from which the very young Robert Louis Stevenson gazed across to the park in which he first conceived Kidnapped.  Picture being seated in a coach ("bus" for us Yanks) and peering up to a third story window of a Georgian townhouse on the left and then through the trees to the imagined pond in the park on the right.  (I guess the reasons as to why I took few photos on this tour are becoming clear.) We saw a lot of fun things on that tour, but I can't remember what most of them were due to lack of photographic evidence.  However, I took plenty of photos of Edinburgh Castle, which was the main visit of the day.


This photo was taken from the window of our hotel room in the Grassmarket.  Really, it was a pretty spectacular place to stay.  The world famous annual Military Tatoo (we're not talking about ink injected into the arm, here) is held here and just out of view on the left side area is where the blue stadium seating was already being set up (just as a reminder, I was there in July).  The top right roof is the barracks and where the people are standing along the straight edge on the right is where we stood to take most of the long-distance scenery photos that come later in this post.


However, our last stop before we headed for the castle was Arthur's Seat.  This is an ancient outcropping of rocks, the foot of which can be seen on the right of the photo above.


The hike up to the promontory is allowed and often done, but not by us.  That's okay--this was close enough for me and we still had a wonderful view of the city spread out below.


Once the coach ground to a halt and we were let out into the bracing wind (still July) to begin our tour of the castle, this was the first photo I took.  I believe it is a church.  I have some kind of affinity for them.  Or something.


Edinburgh Castle sits on a huge rock (a plug of ancient volcano) that has borne a stronghold of one kind or another since the Iron Age (2nd century AD).  There has been a royal castle there since 12th century, at least, and it continued to be a royal residence until 1603.  As we went through the gatehouse entrance, we were met by a large statue on either side of the doorway:  The one above depicts Robert the Bruce.  (He is a popular guy in Scotland.)


The one on the right is of William Wallace.  We didn't see quite as many statues of him during our stay in Scotland, but I am certain he is still fairly popular in certain circles.  These statues are by Thomas Clapperton and were added to the gatehouse in 1929.


This is the Portcullis Gate.  The metal bars of the gate are just visible below the arch.  Note the gift shop to the right.  Oh, how we loved the gift shops!


It was quite crowded the day we were there (July) and there was a large press of people which meant we had to do some standing around and waiting.  This gave me time to look around and take photos of all sorts of things.  Many of the photos, however, have had the people cut out of them which makes for some awkward framing.  Whatevs.


Once we went under the gatehouse and up the ramp, we turned to the left in almost a full circle and encountered this building.  It is the Scottish National War Memorial.  I took quite a few photos of this one.  I seem to recall being told that the garden was only recently planted.




This photo shows some buildings we passed on our way to the Great Hall.  I love all of the wonderful old stone (but what's new?)


The place where they keep the Crown Jewels, and Many Many People Also Taking Photographs.  What can I say?  It was July.  We did not go inside of that building--it was just too many people for us.  Looking back, I was pretty tired and about to become pretty darn sick, so I guess that explains it.


We opted, instead, to go into the Great Hall.


This was a huge room chock-full of as many bits of carved wood, statues, stained glass windows, texture and drama as even I could wish.




I had to borrow this photo from the internet.  I was quite dismayed to unload the photos for this blog post only to discover that I did not have a photo of the centerpiece of the room--the amazing fireplace.  There were too many people there that day to get an unobscured view, it being July and all.


However, I did manage to get these rather grainy close ups of the statues to either side.  I kind of love the imps below the feet of these over-warm women.  (Clearly they are in various states of disrobing due to the fact that they are so hot from the fire.)



This photo shows just how thick the walls of this castle is in most places.  I have a fancy to sit in a window embrasure of just this sort.  Sadly, they had all of the window embrasures roped off, leading me to believe that my yen is fairly common and needful to deter.


(Meet me here after midnight and we can sit across from one another and have a lovely cose.)


The words at the bottom of this window are the names of the ruling monarchs.  From left all the way to the right and back again it reads:  King James III, King James IV, King James the V, Queen Mary, Regent Murray, (James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray, c. 1531-23 January 1570, a member of the House of Stewart as the illegitimate son of King James V, was Regent of Scotland for his half-nephew, the infant King James VI of Scotland, from 1567 until his assassination in 1570.) and finally, King James the VI.  One can only assume the coat of arms above belong to each of them.


I really like these chandeliers.  I have seen old photos that show light fixtures with lots of crystals, like a typical chandelier, but I can only assume someone felt these were more medieval-looking.  Of course, there was no electricity during the reign of, for example, Mary Queen of Scots, but I suppose the glass shades are meant to represent candle flame.  They do look far more appropriate than the crystal ones.  I am certain someone out there will be grateful for my opinion on the matter.


What an amazing ceiling!  Now that I am looking at it, I can only wonder how they keep it clean. (They must have to white-wash it on a regular basis--just not in July.)  This ceiling is not found in the Great Hall, but in the Royal Apartments where Mary gave birth to her son, James.


I stood at this window and marveled at the view that is, in many ways, very much like it was when Mary Queen of Scots stood here.  Most of the buildings in this part of the city were built by then.  Kind of mind boggling, isn't it?


And there, through the window, is Arthur's Seat.  At least that is what my hasty research implies.  I could be wrong.  Whatever it is, Mary and her husband (can't remember which one she was on at the time) and her son and so many historical figures would have gazed out at that chunk of earth.



I suppose I took this photo as a reference so that I could somehow mimic it in my own house.  Sadly, I have allowed my wood-carving skills to grow rusty.



After the Great Hall, we went to the barracks.  There were some spectacular views from there.  The men who were imprisoned there during the Napoleonic Wars were officers and were generally treated better than others of that time period.  Very close to where I stood to take this were hooks in the wall to which were attached tethers.  This gave the prisoners a chance to get some fresh air and exercise without danger of them throwing themselves over the wall in an effort to escape, one way or another.



This is where the Military Tatoo is held--I wish I could have seen that.  However, it happens in January and it must be incredibly cold.  As it turns out, I could not even handle Scottish weather in July.



Edinburgh is a beautiful place and a bustling city that is fun to visit.




Finally, we entered the barracks. The dates carved on this door show that prisoners were kept here during peace-time, as well as during war. Before walking into this area, I had no idea how interesting I would find it as I hadn't realized that this was where the French prisoners of war were held during the Regency (Napoleonic wars time period.)  I write Regency romances, but I haven't dealt with any of this subject matter in any of my previous books.  I do touch on it, just a bit, in my upcoming release, O'er The River Liffey, which will be out in June 2016.


You can add this book to your Goodreads shelf HERE
You can read about the super fun day I spent with world-famous photographer Christopher Bissell of Britain's Next Top Model and world-famous, gorgeous model, Abigail "Tara-Lilly" Kent, who graces the cover of this book HERE.


I took this photo so that I could read what was written here at my leisure.  The prisoners were given an allowance of 6 pence per day.  They were also given 1 penny a day and a clothing allowance from their own government.  This was very important since no trading of prisoners happened during this war for lots of reasons rather too dull to mention here.  The notes also explain that they had access to a surgeon (what we would call a doctor, though he would certainly have done surgery when needed), and they were given time to paint and carve.


Here are some beautiful examples of art made by the prisoners.  Exquisite!


It was very dark in there so most of my photos are too blurry, but this one speaks for itself.  Shudder!


It's hard to make out, but these are hammocks.  The prisoners' possessions either sat on the ground below, or, in some cases, they had a small table.




An interesting read if interested parties are interested enough to take an interest.


Such a lovely place full of such a wide variety of architecture.  Oh darn!  That elbow has ruined my photo.


Here it is again without the elbow.  Ah!


And that is the end of our tour of the castle.  (I am pretty sure I wasn't supposed to take this photo of this painting--shhhhhh!)  Next time, the photos taken during which ended up being our only opportunity to tramp around the city on our own in spite of the five days, total, that we spent in Edinburgh.  (Ominous!)

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 7, 2016 at Thursday, January 07, 2016 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

1 wise, witty and wonderful comments

Wonderful photos, Heidi. You really captured the feel of Edinburgh, all that history.

January 9, 2016 at 4:47 PM

Post a Comment