10 August 2012
Castles in Scotland
Stirling Castle, the seat of power in Scotland from around 1100 to the 1700's and there is evidence that this rocky outcrop saw fortifications dating back as far as 3,000 years ago! I'd read about it in various books over the years, but the scale of it, was much greater than what I'd imagined!
To get to this point in the castle, you've already passed through two stone archway gates. Through this one is Queen Anne's Garden, which is a lovely and colorful space after all the dark stone walls and cobblestone paving.
The garden has a couple of terraces that proceed right up to the main castle walls and towers.
From the outer wall of the garden you can overlook the terraced Kings Garden on the left, the Queen's Garden in the lower center and the King's Hunting Ground beyond them. The ladies could stand at the wall and watch the men at the hunt in the forest! To the right of this is an enormous plain where the battle of Bannockburn took place.
The Great Hall is painted in a golden hue that glows from a distance ~ a way for the king to show his power and authority in the area!
Inside, I was a bit shocked by the bright colors used throughout. But then as I thought about it, in a world that was probably very drab and grey, the use of bright color was yet another way to show that the royalty was a step above (or several) the masses.
The Queen's chamber was probably my favorite of the rooms.
But the tapestries hanging on the wall in the Queen's Hall were wonderful to see!
They are all replicas and there are still a few more to create. These are based off the unicorn tapestries hanging in the Cloister's in New York City.
The tapestry work room is on site in the Nether Bailey, which once would have been where the powder was stored. Here we got to see a tapestry in progress, look at samples of the differences between the original type of tapestry (the finer sample on the left in the photo above) and the coarser more modern tapestry they are using to replicate them (on the right above.) It takes a day to weave a patch about 2" square!
No matter which side of the castle you are on, the walls are stunning.
And the views from the top of the walls are stunning too.
I loved all the arched passageways. We spent half a day there and I know that there were many things I did not get to see.
At the front of Stirling Castle stands this monument to Robert Bruce, who was the leader who became king, who orchestrated the victory in the battle of Bannockburn. In the distance to the right you can see the tower monument to William Wallace.
In the afternoon, we visited a second castle nearby. Doune Castle dates to the 1400's and is everything that one would imagine a castle to be, except that it doesn't have a moat. Though on the other side, it sits adjacent to the river.
There were small stone spiral staircases throughout, the steps worn with centuries of foot traffic. There were little passages leading to tiny rooms and nooks all up and down these and they also led to 3 different great halls.
The stairs led to the top of the tower where the view was spectacular!
I thought it was pretty spectacular from down below as well! An interesting side note is that this castle was used in the filming of the movie, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"!