Stirling Castle

Stirling, United Kingdom

Stirling Castle is one of the largest and most important castles, both historically and architecturally, in Scotland. The castle is a great symbol of Scottish Independence and a source of enduring national pride. Its strategic location, guarding what was, until the 1890s, the farthest downstream crossing of the River Forth, has made it an important fortification from the earliest times. Stirling Castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and is now a tourist attraction managed by Historic Scotland.

The legacy of Stirling’s long history is complex. It is first mentioned around 1110, in Alexander I’s reign; he died here in 1124. Throughout the Wars of Independence with England (1296–1356), Stirling was hotly fought over, changing hands frequently. Bloody battles were fought in its shadow – Wallace’s great victory over Edward I at Stirling Bridge (1297), and Bruce’s decisive encounter with Edward II at Bannockburn (1314). Bruce then destroyed the castle to prevent it falling into enemy hands again.

Stirling was the favoured residence of most of Scotland’s later medieval monarchs. Most contributed to its impressive architecture. In James IV’s reign (1488–1513), Scotland was increasingly receptive to Classical ideas spreading across Europe from Renaissance Italy. James spent much time and money making the castle fit for a European monarch, chiefly to impress his queen, Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII of England.

His legacy was continued by his son, James V, equally determined to impress his second bride, Queen Mary of Guise. Their daughter, Mary Queen of Scots, was crowned here in 1543, and Mary Queen of Scots’ own son, the future James VI, was baptised here in 1566. The celebrations culminated in a fireworks display on the Esplanade, the first recorded use in Scotland.

At the castle's heart lies the Inner Close, around which are ranged the most important buildings – the King’s Old Building (built for James IV in 1496), the Great Hall (James IV around 1503), the Palace (James V around 1540) and the Chapel Royal (James VI in 1594). Around the Outer Close are the Great Kitchens (early 16th century) and later Army buildings. The Nether Bailey occupyies the lowest part of the castle rock. It houses 19th-century powder magazines.

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Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

James Arvidson (2 years ago)
Really great history. Many castles we've seen in Scotland have been built to impress with wealth. This is a castle that appears to have been built for defense. It was a strategic position in the country of great importance. Lots of expansion that would have happened over time can be seen in the buildings. More interesting than the "hey I'm rich" castles. Tons of displays so plan a few hours at least.
ross sutherland (2 years ago)
First mention is that it is a fantastic place to see, not only for the things you can see but also the history of this castle. One thing I highly recommend is that you get a tour guide when entering the castle, their is no additional cost You will be amazed of their knowledge and what you will learn of the historical aspects of this most visited castle in Scotland.
manish temani (2 years ago)
Stirling castle is one of the largest in Scotland. A masterpiece both historically and architecturally. Good place to spend couple of hours, offering stunning views of the city. Some parts of the castle are not open though. The castle has a ticket and a bit of steep walk to start with. Overall good place to spend few hours if you like castles.
Leipzig “Scott” Englisch (2 years ago)
This is a must see for everyone especially fans of outlander as this very famous castle was used as a filming location. Of course it has historical importance which can be seen by its magnificent architecture. What I really enjoyed were the chats with the actors in each area that were really well versed in the castle's history. The views are also wonderful. There are some small museums too with some interesting exhibitions. Definitely should be on your list. If you aren't renting a car, there are many bus companies that include Stirling castle.
Yasmin L (2 years ago)
One of the best castle of uk. You will need at least 3 hours to see all the different parts of this castle. The views from the top of the castle are breathtaking. There is a cute restaurant and do try the soup of the day, it’s delicious, especially after all the walking you would really enjoy it. Lots of history, especially the weaving one, was really nice to see too.
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