Edinburgh Castle

Edinburg  is included in our 16 days "Best Castles of Britain and Ireland" tour.
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The following information was  researched  by our volunteer team member
Carolyn D. Ahrns from Las Vegas, NV. Thank you very much!


Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

On top of a rock that was once a volcano, there has been a fortification of some kind long before recorded history. They include a hill fort built by the Romans and the castle which stands today, Edinburgh. The castle has been the center of Scottish history for over 800 years.

From the Votadini (itís earliest known inhabitants) to the last Jacobite Uprising, this valuable position has been attacked, captured and recaptured for centuries. There is no wonder that after 2,000 years of violence there are many tales of ghosts and hauntings.

The Hauntings:

After the great plague the city chiefs felt it would be best to build over the old city. Victims dying of the plague along with the dead were entombed. In 1990 while renovating a home, the "Underground City" was discovered perfectly preserved. People have talked wnwittingly to spirits. There are reports of people being grabbed by icy hands. Fantastic shows of light of no apparent origin have been seen. Disembodied voices can be heard shouting along with many other sensations.

In the castle the ghost of a headless drummer and a piper playing on the battlements have been seen as recently as 1960.


In 600 A.D., an Angle King, Mynyddog Mwynfawr successfully raided the territory. The Angles captured the area in 638 and held it for 300 years. Malcom II captured the area after the Battle of Carham in 1018.

The castle is first recorded as a royal residence in the 11th century. In 1093, Margaret, the wife of Malcom III died here after learning her husband had died at Alnwick. Margaret brought manners and piety to the Scottish Court, but she is best remembered for her generosity to the poor. After her death she was canonized. Saint Margaretís chapel built around the 12th century still stands today and inside is a stained glass window commemorating William Wallace.

Kings frequently lived in the castle. The royal treasure and records were kept here, but in 1174, after the capture of William the Lion, Edinburgh along with many Scottish castles, now belonged to Henry II of England. King Henry married an English Noblewoman and Edinburgh was returned to Scotland in 1186, as part of the dowry.

In 1291, Edward I of England took the castle along with all of its records and treasures, most of which have never been returned. Edward placed John Balliol (referred to a his puppet king) in the castle as King of Scotland. In 1296, wanting to dispose of his puppet king, the castle withstood an eight day seige by Edward I, and remained property of the English until 1313. The Earl of Moray along with 30 men scaled the castle walls, and on orders from Robert the Bruce the castle was destroyed to prevent the English from ever using it again. St. Margaretís chapel was the only building spared. But in 1333, the English once again claimed the rock and particially rebuilt the castle. In 1341, Sir William Douglas, drove a horse and cart to the castle dressed as a merchant, hiding a band of Scots, who rushed the castle and once again it belonged to Scots.

Kings David II and Robert II added to the castleís towers and walls. The castle survived another siege in the early 1400ís, because of lack of supplies and bad weather Henry IV of England was forced to withdraw. King James IV also added to the castle although by the end of the 15th century it was no longer used as the royal residence. King James IV was killed at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. His son James V was taken to Edinburgh for safety. "James V built new royal apartments...." and his wife, Mary of Lorraine, continued to live at the castle after his death. Their daughter, Mary (Queen of Scots) married the Dauphin of France in 1558. After her husbandís death Mary married Lord Darnley in 1565. In 1567 Mary gave birth to James VI here, the last monarch to be born in Scotland. That same year Lord Darnley was assassinated and Sir William Kirkcakdy of Grange was appointed captain of the castle by the Regent Moray. Sir William supported Mary resulting in another seige on the castle. Sir William held the castle from May 1568 until May 1573, when part of the tower built by King David collapsed cutting of the main water supply to the well. This forced Sir William to surrender, and he was executed on August 3, 1573. There is a plaque in the castle recalling him "Justly reputed to be one of the best soldiers and most accomplished cavaliers of this time". Built over the remains of the collapsed tower is the Half Moon Battery. James VI had repairs done on the castle in 1584 and in 1633.

In 1650, Cromwell captured the castle. In 1689, during the Revolution, the Duke of Gordon defended the castle for James VII. 120 men killed 500 enemy before finally surrendering the castle to William of Orange.

During the Jacobite Uprisings the 1715 attempt to take the castle failed and in 1745 Prince Charles Edward Stuart blockaded the castle.

In the early part of the 19th century many French and Dutch prisoners of the Napoleonic Wars were held in the cellars under the Great Hall.

Among the oldest crown jewels in Europe are the Scottish crown, scepter and sword. The crown was first worn by Robert I in the early 14th century. The last coronation of a Scottish King was the crowning of Charles II in 1651. The Scottish Crown Jewels were hidden from Oliver Cromwell, until 1660. They were on display until 1707, at that time they were locked in an oak chest in Edinburgh, to ensure they would not be taken to England, and evidentually forgotten. In 1818 they were found , due to the efforts of Sir Walter Scott, untouched for over 100 years. They are on display, along with the Stone of Destiny, today in the castle.


For pictures and historical information on Edinbugh Castle, click here.

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