Top 10 Sensational Facts about Stirling Castle


 

Stirling Castle is one of the most important and iconic castles in Scotland. It sits atop Castle Hill, an intrusive crag, which forms part of the Stirling Sill geological formation.

1. It is surrounded by steep cliffs

Stirling Castle- Author; Andraszy- Wikimedia

Stirling Castle is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs thus giving it a strong defensive position.

Its strategic location, guards what was, until the 1890s, the farthest downstream crossing of the River Forth,

This has made it an important fortification in the region from the earliest times.

2. Stirling Castle has buildings dating from 15th and 16th century

Author; Tbatb- Wikimedia

Most of the principal buildings of the sterling castle date from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

A few structures still remain from the fourteenth century, while the outer defences fronting the town date from the early eighteenth century.

3. It was one of the most used royal residences

King Edward 1 trying to enter the castle- Source; British Library- Wikimedia

Before the union with England, Stirling Castle was one of the most used Scottish royal residences. It was used very much as a palace as well as a fortress.

Several Scottish Kings and Queens have been crowned at Stirling. This includes Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1542, and many others who were born or died there.

4. There have been a number of sieges at Stirling Castle

Author; Internet Archive Book Images- Wikimedia

Historically known, there have been at least eight sieges of Stirling Castle, This is inclusive of the Wars of Scottish Independence.

The last siege was in 1746, when Bonnie Prince Charlie tried to take the castle but was ultimately unsuccessful in his goal.

5. It is currently a tourist attraction

Image by Walkerssk from Pixabay

Stirling Castle is currently a tourist attraction being managed by Historic Environment Scotland. It is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

There is a lot to be discovered in the castle, and the highlight is the Great Hall, which has currently been restored to its 16th-century splendour.

The wooden structure of the roof of this hall is very impressive and one can easily imagine the Scottish monarchs hosting banquets here. That is why it remains to be a busy and popular tourist attraction.

6. Stirling Castle was once a military base

Military Base example- Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash

Up until 1964, Stirling Castle was a military base. Within the castle, one will find the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders’ Regimental Museum.

This is an old fashioned museum, that tells a rich history and amazing stories about the regiment’s battles.

Additionally, the museum is spread out through several rooms that have different exhibitions about the regiment in the periods of the Crimean Wars, Boer Wars to WW1, WW2 to Korea, and more recent conflicts.

There are glass cases with exhibits of soldiers’ uniforms, personal items, weapons and medals.

7. The 8th Earl of Douglas was bloodily murdered at Stirling Castle

Seal of William Douglas, 8th Earl of Douglas- Author;Brendan Douglas-Hamilton- Wikimedia

While many killings took place at Stirling Castle, the bloodiest and most gruesome death to take place there was that of William Douglas, the 8th Earl of Douglas.

On February 1452, Douglas was murdered upon his refusal to adhere to King James’ demand that there be a dissolution of a league that Douglas had entered into with Alexander Lindsay, the “Tiger” Earl of Crawford, and John of Islay.

The king stabbed him severally alongside several of his men. According to the Auchinleck Chronicle, Sir Patrick Gray “struck out his brains with a poleaxe”, and his body was thrown out of a window down into the gardens. 

8. First human attempt at flight was done at Stirling Castle

In 1507, an Italian alchemist by the name, of John Damian, gave an attempt at human flight. During that time, he had been employed by King James IV as an alchemist, and his job was to basically create gold from more common materials.

He failed to do this after repeated attempts, making the king incur a lot of losses. Within no time, word got around that Damian was a fraud, and was therefore in danger of losing his position on the kings’ court.

So as to prove his critics wrong, he declared he would fly to France with a pair of wings he built. He planned to use eagle feathers but ended up using chicken feathers instead.

Once the wings were ready, Damian chose the walls of Stirling Castle as his takeoff point.

With a small crowd of onlookers, the king included, he leapt, and promptly fell to the ground.  Needless to say, he gave up his position on the king’s court shortly thereafter

9. World’s oldest football was found at Stirling Castle

Photo by Peter Glaser on Unsplash

Historical evidence shows that organised football was being played in the castle’s courtyards more than 500 years ago.

The world’s oldest surviving football dating back to 1540 was found behind the panelling in Stirling Castle and nobody quite knows how it got there.

However, according to legends, Mary, Queen of Scots loved sports, especially football. She even recorded playing a game in one of her diaries.

Behind the panelling in the Queen’s chamber, the oldest surviving football in the world was discovered but there have always been speculations that the queen hid it there to protect it from witchcraft.

The ball was made from an inflated pig’s bladder, wrapped with cow’s hide and is around half the size of footballs today.

The Scottish Football Museum said that with the football being found, it appears the game evolved rather than it was invented.

10. The castle’s grounds have featured in a number of music videos

Stirling Castle’s grounds- Image by DerWeg from Pixabay

The ground just outside the castle has been used as an open-air concert venue over the years.  An example is R.E.M., Bob Dylan and Runrig, who filmed their live concert DVDs at Stirling Castle.

Additionally, Stirling’s Hogmanay celebrations(Scott’s manner of celebrating the new year) are also held here every year and broadcast on TV.