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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, Stirlingshire copyright Finlay
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.

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 Historic Scotland.

Map and directions

The castle is open to the public daily year round.

View Stirling Castle in a larger map

Other castles in Stirlingshire

Bullet Point Alloa Tower
Bullet Point Broomhall Castle
Bullet Point Buchanan Castle
Bullet Point Castle Campbell
Bullet Point Clackmannan Tower
Bullet Point Culcreuch Castle
Bullet Point Doune Castle
Bullet Point Edinample Castle
Bullet Point Menstrie Castle
Bullet Point Stirling Castle

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