Brutal Battles and Mind-Blowing Majesty – My Trip to Stirling Castle

Again I’ve been a bit quiet recently… I’m sorry! My excuse this time is that I’ve just returned from an adventurous – (and rather long!) – road trip around beautiful Scotland.

As you can imagine, Scotland is just crammed full of history which waits to be unearthed around every corner, so the my inner nerd was in her absolute element! As it was my first visit to Scotland, it would have been rude of me not to have explored the many wondrous and historic landmarks which define Scotland’s past.

First stop: Stirling Castle.

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Entrance to Stirling Castle, which is dominated by a statue in honour of Robert the Bruce (1274-1329).

Now, I wholeheartedly adored Stirling Castle. This towering stone fortress dominates the picturesque landscape, which never fails to amaze even before you’ve stepped through the gates!

Upon your arrival, you are immediately reminded of Stirling’s impressive military background, for you are greeted by none other than a mighty stone statue of Robert the Bruce. Stirling Castle has witnessed many infamous battles, which occurred just outside its towering stone walls. The Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 is arguably one of its most renowned. It was just this battle that Robert the Bruce and his forces, obtained victory over their English enemies. Eventually they succeeded in securing Scotland’s independence from England for a further 400 years, until the more peaceful Act of Union in 1707 united the two once-warring kingdoms.

A much earlier battle – the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 – saw Sir William Wallace defeat Edward I’s English forces, and brought an end to England’s supposed ‘invincibility’ over the Scots. In honour of this other great warrior, the Victorians constructed the Wallace Monument upon the site where the Scots’ set up their army camp. After admiring the imposing state of Robert the Bruce, visitors to Stirling Castle naturally turn to marvel at the beautiful landscape. It is here where visitors experience another stark reminder of Stirling Castle’s great military past, for the Wallace Monument proudly stands opposite amongst the trees.

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The Wallace Monument, which stands amongst Stirling’s breathtaking landscape.

During more peaceful episodes in Scotland’s history, Stirling Castle transformed into an splendid and opulent royal residence. Many generations of the great Stewart dynasty, (including the likes of James V, Mary Queen of Scots and James VI and  I), have all left their mark at Stirling Castle. It was within the confines of this mighty stronghold, where several Kings and Queens were born, christened, crowned, married and died – (or nearly died)! Now nearly 500 years later, and everyone is welcome to wander through those very rooms where those momentous events occurred.

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The recreation of Queen Mary’s Bedchamber – undoubtedly my favourite room!

You can gawp at the magnificent Great Hall, which hosted numerous celebrations, entertainments and festivities for the Scottish royal family. You can linger in the Audience Chambers, where people from across the kingdom and throughout Europe once gathered, all in the hope of meeting the King or Queen. Admittedly, the Chapel Royal today is relatively modern in appearance and has lost a lot of its former royal glory. However, it is still mind-blowing to think that within its walls you are standing in the room where monarchs – (such as James VI and I) – were christened. You can even explore the beautiful royal bedchambers, which have been perfectly restored to their former glory. (I highly recommend Queen Mary’s Bedchamber – that was my all time favourite room)!

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The Chapel Royal

Ok so a lot of the interior which you see today is not original, but I cannot deny that Stirling Castle have done an astounding job in recreating the luxurious Stewart world. The bright colours, flamboyant furnishings and the overall showing-off of wealth, are so brilliantly brought to life that I almost expected Mary Queen of Scots herself to stride through her old rooms! Stepping through the Royal Apartments is almost like stepping back in time. Visitors to Stirling Castle have to barely use their imaginations when picturing the royal court, because it is all displayed before your very eyes!

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The Great Hall, which was built by James IV of Scotland

There was just so much to see in such a short space of time, that unfortunately I had to miss out the Great Kitchens and the Regimental Museum – (please forgive me)… Argyll’s Lodging was also closed on the day of my visit. This does mean however, that I would have to arrange another trip to Stirling Castle ASAP! I would certainly not hesitate in revisiting this amazing castle, nor would I balk at recommending it to other history-buffs, (or even non-history-buffs for that matter). It is the perfect historic site, which wholly combines its impressive military and royal history and portrays it to a 21st-century audience in a compelling and fascinating way. Whether you’re a king or queen, princess or knight, there will be something at Stirling Castle which will capture your imagination and transport you back to the awesome world of historic Scotland.

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Without a shadow of a doubt, Stirling Castle was one of – (if not the) – highlight of my Scottish road trip! My love for the place, compelled me to take an AWFUL LOT of pictures… so if you feel inclined to spend ages flicking through them, please feel free to find them on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thepastpresents/?modal=media_composer&ref=aymt_homepage_panel

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View of Stirling Castle from Queen Anne’s Garden

 

DO YOU WANT TO VISIT STIRLING CASTLE TOO?:
STIRLING CASTLE’S WEBSITE: https://www.stirlingcastle.gov.uk

STIRLING CASTLE ON TRIPADVISOR: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g191266-d188778-Reviews-Stirling_Castle-Stirling_Scotland.html

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