The King’s Old Building At Stirling Castle

A tour of the King's Old Building at Stirling Castle


Stirling Castle.

When I traveled to Scotland with my mom and aunt at the beginning of June, one of the day trips on our list was traveling to Stirling Castle. I’ve written a little about that day trip in this post.

Stirling Castle is maintained by Historic Environment Scotland, which preserves historic properties across Scotland. They care for over 300 properties whose histories span 5,000 years.

One of the buildings at Stirling Castle is the King’s House. We had seen the King’s House, now known as the King’s Old Building, perched upon Castle Rock while we were walking along the Ladies’ Lookout. If you’d like to have some bearings as to the layout, I’ve linked the castle map here.

Cliffside of Stirling Castle - Stirling Scotland

The King’s House or King’s Old Building.

The King’s House, or King’s Old Building, was built upon Castle Rock for James IV around 1496.

It is believed that a 12th-century timber castle probably once stood here. It is also likely there were even earlier fortifications.

Inner Close.

Coming into the Inner Close, you can see the front of the King’s Old Building.

Housed inside the building is the Regimental Museum, which traces the history of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders from 1794. Among the many artifacts and exhibits are uniforms, weapons, soldier’s personal items, and even a drum belonging to Drummer Kennedy which saved his life by deflecting a bullet during the Boer War.

Entrance to the museum is free, after having paid for entry to Stirling Castle. However, the museum is maintained through public donations and some funding from the Ministry of Defence, so do consider donating what you can.



Douglas Gardens.

Towards the end of our visit there, we meandered toward the Douglas Gardens.

In the map, it is in the walled area below the photo of the Chapel Royal (whose arched windows you see in the photo of the Inner Close).

Tradition holds that after the 8th Earl of Douglas was murdered by James II in 1452, his body was flung out of a window near here.


North End of The King’s Old Building.

This end of the King’s Old Building was rebuilt after a fire in 1857.

Robert William Billings, the Victorian architect who restored St. Margaret’s Chapel at Edinburgh Castle, was enlisted to complete the restoration.

Not everyone was happy with the baronial style that he chose.

In fact, in 1893, Sir Robert Rowan Anderson, the architect of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery described it as a ‘very pretentious building… utterly out of harmony with all the surroundings, and a great disfigurement to the castle.’ (source: signage on the castle grounds).

Not to be disenchanted, I climbed the stairs for a closer look at the architecture.

I am enchanted by symmetry in architecture and felt this segment of the building held plenty of symmetry.

…and the door! I knew that I had to share this door that was hidden in the Douglas Gardens with all the Thursday Door folks.

Castle Wall.

Located on this north end of the building is also a stairwell that leads up to a section of the castle wall.

The wall walk leads beside the roof of the Magazine, which was built in the Douglas Gardens and dates back to 1681.

From the wall, there is a view of the Nether Bailey and the surrounding countryside.

From these heights, with views spanning as far as the eye can see, you can certainly see why Stirling Castle was built upon Castle Rock.

Given its location between the Highlands and the Lowlands, it’s easy to imagine how it came to be such an important stronghold.

A tour of the King's Old Building at Stirling Castle

Know before you go:

  • The castle opens daily at 9:30 a.m. Closing times vary. Be sure to check their website before visiting.
  • Ticket prices through March 2018 are £15 (ages 16-59), £9 (ages 5-15), concessions (a word I learned the meaning of while in Scotland) £12, and under 5 (free when accompanied by an adult).
  • Last admission is 45 minutes before closing.
  • Castle admission tickets also include a tour of Argyll’s Lodging, a 17th Century townhouse. (at the time of writing, it’s closed for maintenance, but if it’s open, I highly recommend taking a tour. I enjoyed the furnishings and architecture).
  • It is recommended that you purchase your tickets in advance. We purchased ours at the tourist information center in Stirling. You can’t get a discount on the tickets this way, but you get fast-track admission. The line to get inside Stirling Castle wasn’t long when we visited, but I’ve heard as the summer progresses, the lines get lengthier.
  • Be prepared for all types of weather. It rained for most of the time we were in Stirling.
  • If you take the train, be sure to know what time the last train leaves.
  • Also if you are walking from the train station, bear in mind that the walk is steep.

Every man dies. Not every man lives. - William Wallace quote


Let your light shine!



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28 thoughts on “The King’s Old Building At Stirling Castle

  1. Ohh the history in this place – wow. And we think 250 or 300 year-old stuff is impressive at home 😀
    You captured some great shots Amy, and I love that door with the spikes/rivets in it.

  2. Awesome history, and the door is wonderful with all that hardware and the knob just ever so slightly off center.
    I would have climbed the stairs too. Actually the mossy, aged stairs made me think there should be a group for Stairs… Saturday Stairs, or Sunday Stairs? Stairs are just as lovely, and interesting as doors I think. “)
    If I thought of it there’s probably already a group for it. I’ll have to do a search and see.

    1. It’s amazing the amount of history held in some countries. I thought the doorknob was in an interesting location. There are marks indicating an older knob slightly lower and to the left.
      I’m sure there is a group for stairs. I was just mentioning to my hubby how much I love stairs. I have some photos of stairs located on some trails, but can see how a different lens on those would make the capture of them even more awesome.

      1. Ah, is GAS rearing its ugly head your way regarding lenses?

        Like any job, having the right tool makes a huge difference! Your instinct about a different lens; faster, and/or focal length can make or break a shot is spot on.
        You’re learning, and picking up all the nuances of Photography pretty quick. 🙂

  3. You beautiful images bring back a lot of fond images, Amy! I can’t exactly remember, when we visited Sterling Castle, but I think it was in the early 90’s. Have a splendid weekend! Marcus

    1. Thanks Marcus! I thought the architecture and countryside was stunning. I only wish that I’d captured more of the city as well. I hope that your weekend is splendid as well! -Amy

  4. I loved visiting Stirling castle – when we went (years ago now) the Honors were on display there – the Scottish “Crown Jewels”. I thought they were far more humble and authentic than the ridiculously ostentatious crowns and scepters in the British crown jewels.

    1. I actually saw the Crown Jewels! They were on display at Edinburgh Castle. We weren’t allowed to take photos and being the rule follower that I am, I obeyed. 🙂 They were lovely.

  5. Places like this always make me wonder about those who walked there before me … I mean in the distant past … and what their lives were like.
    I like the perspective of the first photo and of course that amazing studded wooden door.

    1. I always wonder the same thing Joanne. So much history is places like this and, at least in the movies, there always seems to be quite a few people living in and around the castle.

    1. I thought the door had a storybook quality. It was one of the reasons that I enjoyed it so much. It’s interesting that it’s a hidden (but not truly hidden, just less visible) part of the castle.

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