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Stirling Castle, Stirlingshire
Location: Esplanade, Stirling FK8 1EJ (map and directions)
Stirling Castle sits atop Castle Hill overlooking the city of Stirling, and is one of the largest
and most historically and architecturally significant castles in Scotland. When exactly the
castle was built is unconfirmed, though residence on the property begins to appear in
historical records in the early 12th century.
Stirling Castle © Finlay
History of Stirling Castle
The castle that stands on the hill today was
built around 1370, followed by consequent periods of construction until 1750 due to
numerous occupants of the castle. While a few 14th century structures remain intact, the
majority of the castleís main buildings date from the 15th and 16th centuries and the outer
defences date from the early 18th century. The decorations, including carvings along the
castle walls and in the garden, are also diverse due to the influence of various owners.The castle is open to the public daily year round.
In terms of architecture, James IVís Great Hall is of particular significance as the largest
medieval banqueting hall ever built in Scotland, as well as the castleís ĎGreat Kitchensí
which brings to life how the lavish banquets during James IVís day were prepared. The
Chapel Royal is also a key architectural feature built especially for Prince Henryís baptism
and redecorated form Charles Iís coronation visit in 1633. James Vís Palace is an intricately
decorated Renaissance space which will open to the public in spring of 2011 to display how
kings and queens at that time would have lived.
Stirling Castle is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, a key strategic location in
guarding the furthest downstream crossing of the River Forth. This grand castle has received
visits from several Scottish kings and queens, including Mary Queen of Scots, in 1543.
Stirling Castle has also seen at least eight sieges against it. Several of these occurred during
the Wars of Scottish Independence, the last of which came in 1746 when Bonnie Prince
Charlie tried to overtake the castle but was defeated.
The history of Stirling and its recognizable castle was brought to the world stage thanks to
international blockbuster film Braveheart, starring Mel Gibson as William Wallace. Stirling
Castle overlooked the battlefields of Stirling Bridge where Wallace defeated the English in
1297, and Bannockburn, where Robert the Bruce also defeated the English in 1314. Battle
re-recreations take place at the castle in the summer months.
Stirling Castle is one of Scotlandís most popular tourist attractions and is managed by
View Stirling Castle in a larger map
Other castles in Stirlingshire Alloa Tower