Edinburgh Castle Scotland
Edinburgh itself has been dubbed the most haunted city in Europe. Teams of researchers have visited the castle in the hope of proving once and for all in the existence of the spirit world, or not. Tours regularly take place with costumed guides, that often being a sure thing to bring out the spirits of the past
The first historic record of a fortress on the Castle Rock was in 452 A. D. when a fortress was occupied by the Picts.
At the entrance to the Castle is a large dry ditch, which has always has been dry, once spanned by a drawbridge. In niches at the side of the entrance are statues of Robert the Bruce and Sir William Wallace, which were unveiled in 1929. Facing the entrance is the huge semicircular Half Moon Battery, erected in 1574 by the Regent Morton. This bastion is built on the ruin of yet an older feature of the Castle, David's Tower, built by David II., between 1367 and 1371.
The second or inner barrier formerly consisted of two gates with a pit in front. Above it is the massive wall of the Forewall Battery which commanded the approach to the Castle from the north and east. On the wall is a tablet in memory of Sir William Kirkcaldy of the Grange, who held this Castle for Mary Queen of Scots during a siege of five years.
Regent Morton who was in power at that time was forced to ask the aid of Queen Elisabeth to reduce the Castle. With her help the feat was accomplished.
Above the portcullis can be seen the Argyll or State Prison built by Regent Morton in 1574, and it was in this dungeon that the two Argylls, father and son, were imprisoned before their execution. At the portcullis itself there were five gates - two outer steel gates a little over 200 years old, then the portcullis, and the two inner gates. These were also built in 1574. On the left are the Lang Stairs leading to the upper defences.
Edinburgh Castle changed hands several times, but only once by direct force of arms. This was by the Scots from the English during the reign of Edward I., the Hammer of the Scots. The attack was made by stratagem, with the help of a guide who knew a secret way in over the cliff. Thirty men climbed the Rock and surprised the 300 strong garrisons. In case the Castle should be recaptured, the Scots destroyed everything except St. Margaret's Chapel and for 24 years the building was a ruin.
The route to the top of the Castle is by Hawk Hill - here the kings practiced falconry, and on top are some of the more modern buildings, including the Governor's House, built in the 18th century. A stone and a beam from this building are built into the Canadian House of Parliament in Ottawa. The other modern building is the new barracks erected at the end of the 18th century.
The oldest building on the Rock is St. Margaret's Chapel built for Margaret, the Queen of Malcolm Canmore, in 1073. It is one of the oldest buildings in Scotland and the oldest in Edinburgh.
In Crown Square is the building known as the Royal Lodging, built early in the 15th century. In here is housed the Regalia of Scotland. The Scottish Crown, which was originally the gold circlet worn by Robert the Bruce, is nearly 400 years older than the Crown which can be seen in the Tower of London. The Sword of State is a wonderful example of Italian craftsmanship presented to James IV. by the Pope. The Sceptre was made for James V. by the jewellers of Paris, and the other jewels include the ruby ring worn by Charles I. at his Coronation in Holyrood, the Jewel of the Order of the Thistle, and the gold Collar of the Order of the Garter.
After the murder of Rizzio in Holyrood, Mary Queen of Scots took up residence in the Castle. Her apartments were in the right hand corner of the Lodging. Here was born James VI., the first king of both Scotland and England. From the window can be seen the sheer face of the Castle Rock down which, tradition says, James was lowered in a basket when he was only eight days old and taken to Stirling for baptism.
The Banqueting Hall, enlarged by James IV in the 16th century, was at one time Scotland's Parliament House. It is now used as an armoury and its features include a magnificent hammer beam ceiling, a cushion, lying on which are the keys of the Castle, and arms and armoury used by Scottish soldiers in the past.
On the Half Moon Battery modern guns are used for firing Royal Salutes and one gives the time signal daily at 1 o'clock.
A problem in any fortress is the water supply, and here can be seen the Forewell, sunk 110 feet, much off it through solid rock, in the 14th century.
In the dungeon is Mons Meg, the oldest cannon in Europe, and once the largest. Said to have been forged at Mons in 1486 it could project a 400 lb. ball just over two miles. It burst while firing a salute in honour of the last of the Stuarts, and was taken to London where it stood in the Tower for 75 years. It was finally brought back to Edinburgh on the representation of Sir Walter Scott. The name is discussed and frequently it is said that the proper name was "mollance Meg", named so after the wife of the smith who made the cannon who must have had a loud voice then.