on a volcanic outcrop guarding the lowest crossing point of the
River Forth, Stirling Castle is a great symbol of Scottish
Independence and a source of enduring national pride. The castle’s
long, turbulent history is associated with great figures from
Scotland’s past, such as William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Mary
Queen of Scots. It has seen many royal dramas and witnessed the
lives and deaths of almost every Scottish monarch up to the Union of
the Crowns in 1603. of Stirling’s long history is
a complex monument of diverse buildings and spaces. At its 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).
Outer Close are the Great Kitchens (early 16th century) and later
Army buildings. The Nether Bailey occupying the lowest part of the
castle rock houses 19th-century powder magazines. The Outer Defences
(Queen Anne around 1710) and Forework (James IV around 1500) guard
the main entrance from the town.
Stirling Castle 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
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.
legacy was continued by his son, James V, equally determined to
impress his second bride, Queen Marie de Guise. Their daughter, Mary
Queen of Scots, was crowned here in 1543, and Mary’s own son, the
future James VI, was baptised here in 1566. The celebrations
culminated in a fireworks display on the Esplanade, the first seen
in Scotland. James VI hosted a great three-day celebration here in
1594 to mark his own son’s baptism.e head of the
increasingly powerful Douglas family,
William, 8th Earl of Douglas,
was invited under the protection of the king to Stirling Castle. The
intention was to persuade William to break some alliances felt to be
against the royal interest. When he refused James could not contain
his anger, the king drew his dagger and stabbed William twenty nine
times before throwing his body from the window. This is
traditionally said to have taken place in the King's Old Building
but this had not yet been built. It may have been in an earlier
building on the same site.
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