Monday, July 15, 2013

Back to work tomorrow...

Today we went with Paul & Karen to Stirling Castle.  This is one of Scotland’s most famous castles.  If you look at a map, Scotland is almost cut in half by the River Clyde which flows west into the Firth of Clyde and the River Forth which flows east into the Firth of Forth.  Edinburgh is on the east coast and Glasgow is on the west coast.  Stirling is right in the middle between the two cities.  It was a major city…and castle.  It has been said that if you control the Stirling Castle, you can control Scotland.  (I’ve heard the same thing said about the Edinburgh Castle, but I’ll let the historians debate that one.)  On a clear day from the Stirling castle one can see Arthur’s Seat to the east in Edinburgh and Ben Lomond to the west.
There is so much to see at Stirling Castle.  We arrived about 10:30 in the morning and left about 5:30 in the afternoon.  They have just finished a £12 million restoration (that is about $18 million) of the King’s Palace within the Castle.  We have been learning much more about the Scottish history and the reign of the kings and queens and how they were related. 

The Castle was first built in the 12th century but was destroyed by Robert the Bruce in the14th century to prevent the English from occupying it.  Most of the present castle was built by James IV, King of Scotland (reigned 1488–1513)
James V, his son (reigned 1513–1542), added the royal palace with the King's quarters and the Queen’s quarters.  Before he could move in with his queen he died so he never occupied his new palace.  His daughter, Mary was crowned queen in the Royal Chapel when she was 9 months old and became Mary, Queen of Scots.  (She was born down the road a bit at the Palace in Linlithgow)
This is a view of the William Wallace Monument from the entrance of the Castle.  Wallace was victorious at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, September 11, 1297.  The battle was won because of patience and good military strategy.  We learned some history about Wallace and Robert the Bruce.  Bruce defeated the English at the Battle of Bannockburn.  We also learned that the movie "Brave heart" is not accurate according to Scottish History...but that is another story!
This is looking up from the Queen Anne's Garden to the Palace that James V built
Another view to the Palace and the Castle entrance.  When the Palace was built, the entrance had four of those round columns.  The base of the third is still there and the fourth is gone.  They were almost twice as tall as they currently are now but were damaged in fighting over the years.
This is the Palace and the Great Hall from the Outer Close.
The Great Hall looks out of place with this gold colour.  In the research they have done, and when they were restoring the Hall, they found that the stone walls had been plastered over with seven layers of plaster and painted with and Ochre paint.  Research has proven that when many of the buildings were constructed they were very colourfully decorated.
The Royal Chapel and the Great Hall
This is inside the King's quarters.  The major restoration project was completed in 1998.  The research took 13 years to complete and found that the inside of the palace would have been very colourful.  Also, the statues on the outside of the palace would have also been coloured very beautifully.  This was a sign of wealth.  James V was well traveled and brought back from France much of the French culture...and a beautiful wife.  His first wife died shortly after they were married and he went back to France for his second wife...Mary of Guise.
The research also have found that the fire places in the palace would have been coal burning.  Burning pete was too smokey and the fireplace was not large enough for wood.  The fireplaces in the Great Hall and the kitchens would have been wood burning.
This is the Queen's quarters.  Since James V died before they could move in, Mary was left to finish overseeing the construction and she never furnished the King's quarters but did furnish her quarters.  This is decorated in a way that research developed what it may have looked like.
These are tapestries hanging on the wall.  They have recreated tapestries that were hanging in the castle which were all made by hand using the method from the 16th century.  The originals are in museums.  They are currently making another one which we were able to see the weavers working on.
This is a view of the castle for down the street.  The castle is high on a hill that is cliffs on three sides.  The castle was reachable by boat which made it a great location.  Boats could come up the Forth with supplies and guests.  It is a marvelous treasure and if anyone comes to Scotland, this is a "must see"!!

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