The castles and fortresses are known to be monuments which protect in themselves the rich cultural pasts of the lands they belong to. Even in the face of ruins they stand upright. A prominent example of such romanticism is the Dunnottar Castle of Scotland which buries in its walls many stories of Scotland’s valour and richness.
Built on a cliff, upon the North Sea, the remains of the Dunnottar Castle grace the north east coast of Scotland at a distance of 3 kilometres from Stonehaven. The part of the castle that stands today is known to be dating back to the 15th or 16th centuries. However, as per history the actual fortification of the castle had started in the earlier half of the middle ages.
Covering an area of 1.4 hectares, the Dunnottar Castle has been important to the Scots both because of its impregnable nature and also because of its location. As it stands just 50 metres above the North Sea, it helped to keep an eye on the coast as well as the Mounth hills. The Dunnottar Castle plays an important role in the history of Scotland as it helped in housing a small army which kept Oliver Cromwell’s army from invading the crown jewels of Scotland and also the Honours of Scotland in the 17th century.
There is yet another famous period in the history of the Dunnottar Castle where a number of covenanters, who did not agree to take the King as the supreme power in terms of spiritual matters, were imprisoned in the year 1685. This, so called black period, is also known as the time of the “Whig’s Vault”.
Thereafter, the Dunnottar Castle went to the family of Earls Marischals who were the most influential and powerful family of the time. It was because the last Earl of the family joined the Jacobite risings of 1715 that the castle was bought by the York Buildings Company and then to various other parties till the 20th century. By this time much of the Dunnottar Castle was dismantled and went in to ruins. It was in 1925 that the 1st Viscountess Cowdray did some repairs to the castle and finally opened it for the public. Ever since, the Dunnottar Castle has been a favourite amongst tourists visiting Scotland. In 2009, an estimated 52,500 people visited the spectacular castle.
In all this while, a number of famous personalities, both historic and current day, have paid their visit to the Dunnottar Castle. Prominent amongst them are William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II.
If you plan to visit the Dunnottar Castle in the coming times, keep in mind to check the weather conditions of the area and also the fact that though the castle is open for public viewing throughout the year, there are strict opening and closing times every day. The entry is by means of tickets and can be approached by the footpath after parking the car in the Castle parking.
One of the glaring evidences of Scotland’s rich past is the Edinburgh Castle which stands tall till the current day on the Castle Rock in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old town. It hides in itself a history of one thousand years and is undoubtedly the most prestigious castle of the British Isles.
The various parts of the Edinburgh Castle have different histories. While the oldest part is the Chapel of St. Margaret which dates back to the 12th century, the Great Hall and the Half Moon Battery were constructed in the 15th and 16th centuries, respectively. The residential role of the Edinburgh Castle remained till the 15th century post which it was primarily used as a military barrack. When in 19th century it was decided to preserve the castle as the Scottish National Heritage that the restoration work began on the Edinburgh Castle.
The Edinburgh Castle is now the home to the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny, the famous Scottish guns of Mons Meg and One O’ Clock, and the Scottish National Was Museum. Although, the responsibility of some parts of the castle now belong to the British Army but, their presence is occasional, ceremonial, and more related to administrative actions. The Edinburgh Castle is one of the prime tourist attractions of Scotland.
Such is the position of the Edinburgh Castle that it gets a natural defence from its enemies. It is evident that the defence strategy of the castle was made with a number of gates which stand before the main entrance. Towards the main entrance is a slope called the Esplanade. In this part you can find the statues of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace. Then are the Portcullis Gate and the Argyle Tower which lead the ways to the Military Buildings and the National War Museum. In the highest part of the Castle Rock are situated the St. Margaret Chapel and the Upper Ward. In this part you can also spot the famous Scottish defence gun called the Mons Meg. On the eastern part of the Edinburgh Castle are the Half Moon Battery and the David’s Tower. While the courtyard of the palace is called the Crown Square, the royal residence area comes under the Royal Palace. It is in this part of the Castle that the Honours of Scotland are kept in the Crown Room which is vaulted.
In the current times the maintenance of the Edinburgh Castle is done by the Scottish Government through a wing called the Historic Scotland. They not only maintain the premises for tourist visits but also take care of the conservation of the fortress. In the year 2011 alone, the Edinburgh Castle received 1.2 million visitors making it to be the most visited place of Scotland. Keeping in mind such heavy tourist footfalls the Castle provides a number of parallel facilities like restaurants, souvenir shops, and historical displays.
There are tours of the castle provided by both stewards and audio visual aids which narrate the history of the castle and also its architectural significances.