Notes: Castle is located in the centre of Edinburgh and is a major tourist attraction. Extensive city centre car parking (all paid) including on road parking immediately adjacent to castle.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
Historic Scotland’s flagship property, Edinburgh Castle is well presented and has several museums within (including the Scottish Honours). Note that Edinburgh Castle hosts the Edinburgh Military Tattoo every Summer during which extensive seating/scaffolding is rigged in castle precinct.
1. The oldest building in Edinburgh Castle is a small chapel dating from 1093. This was built to commemorate the death of Queen Margaret, wife of King Malcolm III, who allegedly died of grief when she received news that her husband had been killed at the first Battle of Alnwick (1093).
2. In July 1565 Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to the future James VI (from 1603 James I of England) at Edinburgh Castle.
Towering over the city from its position on a volcanic rock, Edinburgh Castle has been hotly contested over the centuries; the first English siege was in the seventh century, during the Wars of Independence it changed hands several times and Oliver Cromwell took the castle as part of his invasion of Scotland.
HISTORY OF EDINBURGH CASTLE
Built on volcanic rock, Edinburgh Castle has existed as a fortified site since at least 850 BC when a fortified hillfort was established on the summit. Roman era occupation is unknown but by the seventh century AD the rock had been besieged and taken by the Angles and it is they who gave the settlement the English name of Edinburgh. The area became part of Scotland during the reign of Malcolm III and it was either him or his son, David I, who established the first medieval castle on the rock.
During the Wars of Independence it was hotly contested; in 1296 Edward I invaded Scotland and successfully besieged and captured Edinburgh Castle. On 14 March 1314, in the months leading upto the Battle of Bannockburn, the castle was re-captured by the Scots who climbed the north face of Edinburgh Castle rock and took the English garrison by surprise. Attempts were made to slight the castle but in 1335 the English had re-taken and fortified the site. In 1341 the castle was captured again by the Scots.
In 1568 Mary, Queen of Scots fled to England leaving her infant son James to become King of Scots. In 1571 Sir William Kirkcaldy, governor of Edinburgh Castle, came out in support of her. The King's supporters besieged the castle for two long years (and thus given the name the "Lang Siege"). The siege was ended when the English, at the request of the Scots, sent heavy artillery in support. Significant rebuilding then followed including construction of Half-Moon Battery.
During the Civil Wars the castle was seized by invading Parliamentary forces after the rout of the Scottish army at the Battle of Dunbar. The castle also saw action during the Glorious Revolution; the castle's governor supported the ousted James VII resulting in the castle being besieged for three months before surrendering. Later attempts to capture the castles during the Jacobite rebellions all attempts failed. Thereafter the castle was reused as a prison.