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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Let your light shine!