Saturday, 5 April 2014

E is for Edinburgh Castle


E is for Edinburgh Castle Scotland

Today we are travelling to Scotland to visit

Edinburgh Castle 

Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline of the city.  An historic fortress positioned on the Castle Rock, archaeologists have established there has been human occupation of the rock since at least the Iron Age (2nd century AD), although the nature of the early settlement is unclear.

Picture from Wikimedia Commons
 Picture from Wikimedia Commons

The castle stands upon the plug of an extinct volcano, which is estimated to have risen some 350 million years ago during the lower Carboniferous period. The Castle Rock is the remains of a volcanic pipe which cut through the surrounding sedimentary rock before cooling to form very hard dolerite, a type of basalt. Subsequent glacial erosion resisted by the dolerite, which protected the softer rock to the east, leaving a crag and tail formation.

The summit of the Castle Rock is 130 metres (430 ft) above sea level, with rocky cliffs to the south, west and north, rising to a height of 80 metres (260 ft) above the surrounding landscape.

The only readily accessible route to the castle lies to the east, where the ridge slopes more gently. The defensive advantage of such a site is self-evident, but the geology of the rock also presents difficulties, since basalt is extremely impermeable. Providing water to the Upper Ward of the castle was problematic, and despite the sinking of a 28-metre (92 ft) deep well, the water supply often ran out during drought or siege,  for example during the Lang Siege in 1573.

Fierce Iron Age warriors defended a hill fort here in the 2nd Century AD. The Scots and English struggled for control of the castle during the Wars of Independence. In 1314 it was recaptured from the English in a daring night raid led by Thomas Randolph, nephew of King Robert the Bruce.

The castle has sheltered many Scottish monarchs. They include Queen Margaret (later St Margaret), who died here in 1093, and Mary Queen of Scots, who gave birth to James VI in the Royal Palace in 1566.

In 1996, the Stone of Destiny, on which kings were enthroned for centuries, was returned to Scotland. It is now displayed in the Crown Room.

In the 1600s, the castle became a military base. Some buildings were rebuilt and new ones were raised to house a huge garrison - and provide a secure jail for prisoners of war.

The military presence remains unbroken, but over the last 200 years the castle has become a national icon. It is now Scotland's leading tourist attraction, and a key element of the Edinburgh World Heritage Site.

Emma looked out of her bedroom window

The mist hung in streams down low

On the hillside of this dull dreich* day

The stone walls of the castle coloured grey

A formidable fortress many centuries old

That has seen brave men and women fearless and bold

Kings and Queens cried and celebrated inside its walls

Withstanding summer heat and winter squalls

She sighed with the longing of a teenager about to leave

She would forget the city of her birth soon to achieve

Fame and fortune in another place, a life of adventure

The castle though would always be her anchor.

* adjective


  • (Especially of weather) dreary; bleak: a cold, dreich early April day


  1. Definitely would love to see that in person! It's a longgggg way from Missouri :)
    Another a to z blogger

  2. I have always wanted to visit this castle :)

  3. Dear Sally,
    Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving such a nice comment. It is nice to meet a new blog friend. Hello from sunny southern California. I live about 50 miles from LA. I have visited England but never had the pleasure of going to Scotland. Thank you for the informational trip to Edinburgh Castle. I've wanted to go there. Have a great day. I hope you will come and visit me again.

  4. Love the blog and now are mutually following :o)