LOCATION: Edinburgh, Scotland
Scotland is known for castles everywhere but a trip to one of the most famous ones is a must do for Edinburgh. As soon as you arrive in the city, the Edinburgh Castle encompasses the sky from all views.
The castle on the rock was quite an impressive site. My motivation to see the castle was a little more than just being a tourist as I’ve been working on my ancestry and traced roots back to there. Turns out, I have some royal blood from the Stewart Kingdom line, and Edinburgh Castle was the place to be for the Royal Family. Top tourist attraction and a family history lesson, you can’t put a price tag on that!
The castle remains pretty well intact for how old it truly is. There has been a royal castle on the rock in Edinburgh since the reign of David I in the 12th century and continued to be a royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1603. By the 17th century, it was mostly used as a military barracks and jail. The castle was involved in many historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence to the Jacobite Rising of 1745. Now, the castle is used as a museum to the Royal Kingdom that has stayed there as well as a tribute to the military of Scotland. The castle houses the Scottish regalia and is the site of the Scottish National War Memorial and the National War Museum of Scotland.
There are two main “floors” to the castle. The ground area is mostly military barracks and jails. It was the first jail that the rooms had hammocks and no real cells. Apparently prisoners here had it fairly well and received two pints of beer a day, along with beef, bread and peas. The prison kitchen still had the bread kilns intact with burn marks.
That was pretty neat. Also along the first floor was a modern military museum and showcased the Scottish military involved in the war as well as Scottish guards over time.
The second floor was not really a floor, but just stairs to the upper level of the castle. From there, you could walk in the Scottish National War Memorial, which was quite impressive for a memorial.
There was also a Scottish Whiskey tasting experience. The whiskey on the menu was Bruadar, a unique whiskey mixed with honey and sloe berries from Perthshire. I’ve never been able to drink whiskey without a mixer, but this was absolutely fantastic and you could really taste the honey. All three of us were immediately sold on the product.
Also on the second level was my favorite part, a tribute to the royal line of Scotland, and essentially my family. As soon as you walk in, a family tree was presented.
It was interesting to see so many familiar names that I’ve noticed on my ancestry tree. All the work I’ve been doing on my family history was coming full circle and I couldn’t be happier. There were several exhibits showcasing the crowing of Robert the Bruce and various other kings of Scotland.
The last room of the exhibit was of the family jewels. I’ve never understood why nobody is allowed to take pictures of the crown. When I went to the Tower of London, I took pictures and a guard came over and deleted them for me. I really wanted a picture of this crown though, so I slyly took out my phone and snapped a quick picture.
Overall, I think my experience at the castle was improved since it hit home for me, but it was still a well worth it experience. Now to continue to complete my research on my family!
*Thank you Lori, Ryan, Shiran and Omar for accompanying me on this adventure.
Would I do this again? I recommend going to the castle, but I’ve seen all the exhibits and don’t feel like I need to go again. Worth the trip for sure!
How to do this: Tickets are 16.50 Euros and you can get them at http://www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk/tickets/tickets