FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Castled out

Posted in Edinburgh, Scotland by folkestonejack on June 11, 2013

Our four day trip to Scotland finished with a visit to a castle…

The last time I visited Edinburgh Castle, around ten years ago, it was a cold winter’s day and I virtually had the place to myself. Today was quite the opposite, with crowds filling all the spaces within the castle. It was hard to imagine what this place must be lucky on a busy summer’s day when the numbers increase by half as much again. I certainly don’t want to gain first hand experience of that!

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

I never tire of seeing the Scottish National War Memorial, which is a beautiful space originally opened in 1927 as a commemoration of the lives of Scottish soldiers and soldiers in Scottish regiments who died in the First World War. The sight of Archangel Michael hanging over the casket holding the roll of honour in the shrine always takes my breath away. It is a wonderful symbol of hope for mankind amidst the terrible record of the lives lost through war.

Since my last visit an exhibition (‘Prisons of War’) has opened which re-creates the conditions that American prisoners would have experienced in the stone vaults on 27th June 1781. It is wonderfully atmospheric and the snatches of conversation played around you give a good feel for the frustrations of life here. The associated exhibition space displays some remarkable doors which hold the scratched graffiti of the prisoners, including images of ships that they had served on.

Prisons of War

Prisons of War

Our visit to the castle more or less ended with the daily firing of the One o’clock gun. The gun is fired at the same time each day, although it has long since lost its purpose of providing ships in the Firth of Forth with a time signal to set their clocks by! A 105mm field gun is used to create the signal and you certainly can’t miss it wherever you are in Edinburgh. Unusually, today’s firing was being filmed as part of a Visit Scotland golf promotion – a soldier with a golf club took a swing followed seconds later by the firing of the gun. All very impressive.

Edinburgh Castle is an amazing place to visit and once again we found that it is easy to underestimate the time that you need to take to explore the site. We easily spent a good three and a half hours wandering around but will still need to come back to do justice to the National War Museum which deserves a good hour or two in itself to appreciate fully.


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