This magnificent aerial view, via Wikipedia, shows the town of Stirling at the top and the castle sprawling on the stone outcrops in the center and lower part of the photo. What is does not convey is the height of the fortress, which you can deduce from the view, below.
From the ramparts, looking northeast toward the Monument to Sir William Wallace (1270-1305) leader of the Scots against the English. He was victorious in the battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 but later was captured and died a traitor's death in London.
The entrance to the castle clearly reveals its tactical value and military purpose. No doubt about those cannons. One guidebook (Michelin) states, "Stirling has been strategically important from time immemorial...perched on its well-nigh impregnable crag..." between lowland and highland Scotland.
Though the fortress had been there for centuries and was supposedly captured by the legendary King Arthur, the palace at the castle was built in Renaissance style in the late 15th century by James IV. His son, James V, lived here.
Below: left, Stairway to the entrance; center, costume of the Queen, Mary of Guise, for the Christmas celebrations in 1540; right, a recreation of the King's Inner Hall.
Above, the exterior of the Great Hall, probably built by James IV in 1501-1504; Below, the interior, the Great Hall with its hammer beam ceiling, the site of royal meetings for a century.
Below, the view to the west, overlooking the King's Knot, earthworks remaining from a 17th C. formal garden created for the visit of Charles I, in the 1620's. Sometimes known locally as the 'cup and saucer' the area inspired legends associated with King Arthur and his Roundtable.
Inside the Palace, the rooms used by royalty have been recreated. Below, the King' Bedchamber, featuring the unicorn, a symbol of royal strength and purity, over the fireplace.
Below, two views of the Queen's Bedchamber.
In the Queen's Inner Hall, a costumed guide tells the story of the Unicorn tapestries. Next week, you'll find more about Scotland and the Unicorn in this blog.
Stirling Castle Walls
Victoria Hinshaw, Author