Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of
the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, from its position on the
Archaeologists have established human occupation of the rock since at
Iron Age (2nd century AD), although the nature of the early
settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle on the rock since
at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site
continued to be a royal residence until 1633. From the 15th century
the castle's residential role declined, and by the 17th century it was
principally used as military barracks with a large garrison. Its
importance as a part of Scotland's national heritage was recognised
increasingly from the early 19th century onwards, and various
restoration programmes have been carried out over the past century and
a half. As one of the most important strongholds in the Kingdom of
Castle was involved in many historical conflicts
Wars of Scottish Independence
Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the
Jacobite rising of 1745. Research undertaken in 2014 identified 26
sieges in its 1100-year-old history, giving it a claim to having been
"the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked
in the world".
Few of the present buildings pre-date the Lang Siege of the 16th
century, when the medieval defences were largely destroyed by
artillery bombardment. The most notable exceptions are St Margaret's
Chapel from the early 12th century, which is regarded as the oldest
building in Edinburgh, the Royal Palace and the early-16th-century
Great Hall, although the interiors have been much altered from the
mid-Victorian period onwards. The castle also houses the Scottish
regalia, known as the Honours of
Scotland and is the site of the
Scottish National War Memorial
Scottish National War Memorial and the National War Museum of
British Army is still responsible for some parts of the
castle, although its presence is now largely ceremonial and
administrative. Some of the castle buildings house regimental museums
which contribute to its presentation as a tourist attraction.
The castle, in the care of Historic Scotland, is Scotland's
most-visited paid tourist attraction, with over 1.4 million visitors
in 2013, and over 70% of leisure visitors to
Edinburgh visiting the
castle. As the backdrop to the
Edinburgh Military Tattoo during the
Edinburgh Festival the castle has become a recognisable symbol
Edinburgh and of Scotland.
1.1 Pre-history of the
1.1.2 Earliest habitation
1.2 Early Middle Ages
1.3 High Middle Ages
1.4 Wars of Scottish Independence
1.5 David's Tower and the 15th century
1.6 16th century and the Lang Siege
Nova Scotia and Civil War
1.8 Garrison fortress: Jacobites and prisoners of war
1.9 19th century to the present
2.1 Outer defences
Portcullis Gate and Argyle Tower
2.3 Military buildings
2.3.1 National War Museum of Scotland
2.4 Upper Ward
2.4.1 St. Margaret's Chapel
2.4.2 Mons Meg
2.4.3 Half Moon Battery and David's Tower
2.5 Crown Square
2.5.1 Royal Palace
2.5.2 Great Hall
2.5.3 Queen Anne Building
2.5.4 Scottish National War Memorial
3 Present use
3.1 Tourist attraction
3.2 Military role
3.3 Military tattoo
3.4 One O'Clock Gun
3.5 Symbol of Edinburgh
4 See also
7 External links
Pre-history of the
Castle Rock, Edinburgh
Diagram of a crag and tail feature, such as the
Castle Rock: A is the
crag formed from the volcanic plug, B is the tail of softer rock, and
C shows the direction of ice movement. In the case of Edinburgh, the
castle stands on the crag (A) with the
Royal Mile extending along the
The castle stands upon the plug of an extinct volcano, which is
estimated to have risen about 350 million years ago during the lower
Carboniferous period. The
Castle Rock is the remains of a volcanic
pipe, which cut through the surrounding sedimentary rock before
cooling to form very hard dolerite, a type of basalt. Subsequent
glacial erosion was resisted by the dolerite, which protected the
softer rock to the east, leaving a crag and tail formation.
The summit of the
Castle Rock is 130 metres (430 ft) above sea
level, with rocky cliffs to the south, west and north, rising to a
height of 80 metres (260 ft) above the surrounding landscape.
This means that the only readily accessible route to the castle lies
to the east, where the ridge slopes more gently. The defensive
advantage of such a site is self-evident, but the geology of the rock
also presents difficulties, since basalt is extremely impermeable.
Providing water to the Upper Ward of the castle was problematic, and
despite the sinking of a 28-metre (92 ft) deep well, the water
supply often ran out during drought or siege, for example during
the Lang Siege in 1573.
See also: Prehistoric Scotland
The castle is built on a volcanic rock, as seen here from the West
Archaeological investigation has yet to establish when the
was first used as a place of human habitation. There is no record of
any Roman interest in the location during General Agricola's invasion
of northern Britain near the end of the 1st century AD. Ptolemy's map
of the 2nd century AD shows a settlement in the territory of the
Votadini named "Alauna", meaning "rock place", making this possibly
the earliest known name for the
Castle Rock. This could, however,
refer to another of the tribe's hill forts in the area. The Orygynale
Andrew of Wyntoun (c. 1350 – c. 1423), an early source
for Scottish history, names "Ebrawce" (Ebraucus), a legendary King of
the Britons, as having "byggyd [built] Edynburgh". According to
the earlier chronicler,
Geoffrey of Monmouth (c. 1100 – c. 1155),
Ebraucus had fifty children by his twenty wives, and was the founder
of "Kaerebrauc" (York), "Alclud" (Dumbarton) and the "Maidens'
Castle". The 16th-century English writer
John Stow (c. 1525 –
Ebraucus with building "the Castell of Maidens called
Edenbrough" in 989 BC. The name "Maidens' Castle" (Latin: Castra
or Castellum Puellarum) occurs frequently up until the 16th
century. It appears in charters of David I (r. 1124–1153) and
his successors, although the reason for it is not known. William
Camden's survey of Britain, Britannia (1607), records that "the
Britans called [it]
Castle Myned Agned [winged rock], the Scots, the
Castle and the Virgins Castle, of certaine young maidens of
the Picts roiall bloud who were kept there in old time". According
to the 17th-century antiquarian Father Richard Hay, the "maidens" were
a group of nuns, who were ejected from the castle and replaced by
canons, considered "fitter to live among soldiers". However, this
story was considered "apocryphal" by the 19th-century antiquarian
Daniel Wilson and has been ignored by historians since. The name
may have been derived from a "Cult of the Nine Maidens" type of
legend. Arthurian legends suggest that the site once held a shrine to
Morgain la Fee, one of nine sisters. Later, St Monenna, said to be
one of nine companions, reputedly invested a church at Edinburgh, as
well as at
Dumbarton and other places. Similar names are shared by
Iron Age hillforts and may have simply described a castle
that had never been taken by force or derived from an earlier
Brittonic name like mag dun.
Castle seen from the North
An archaeological excavation in the early 1990s uncovered evidence of
the site having been settled during the late
Bronze Age or early Iron
Age, potentially making the
Castle Rock the longest continually
occupied site in Scotland. However, the extent of the finds was
not particularly significant and was insufficient to draw any certain
conclusions about the precise nature or scale of this earliest known
phase of occupation.
The archaeological evidence is more reliable in respect of the Iron
Age. Traditionally, it had been supposed that the tribes of central
Scotland had made little or no use of the
Castle Rock. Excavations at
nearby Dunsapie Hill, Duddingston,
Traprain Law had
revealed relatively large settlements and it was supposed that these
sites had been chosen in preference to the
Castle Rock. However, the
excavation in the 1990s pointed to the probable existence of an
enclosed hill fort on the rock, although only the fringes of the site
were excavated. House fragments revealed were similar to Iron Age
dwellings previously found in Northumbria.
The 1990s dig revealed clear signs of habitation from the 1st and 2nd
centuries AD, consistent with Ptolemy's reference to "Alauna". Signs
of occupation included some Roman material, including pottery, bronzes
and brooches, implying a possible trading relationship between the
Votadini and the Romans beginning with Agricola's northern campaign in
AD 82, and continuing through to the establishment of the Antonine
Wall around AD 140. The nature of the settlement in this period is
inconclusive, but Driscoll and Yeoman suggest it may have been a
broch, similar to the one at Edin's Hall near
Duns in the Scottish
Early Middle Ages
Map of northern Britain showing the
Gododdin and other tribes c.600 AD
The castle does not re-appear in contemporary historical records from
the time of
Ptolemy until around AD 600. Then, in the epic Welsh poem
Y Gododdin there is a reference to Din Eidyn, "the stronghold of
Eidyn". This has been generally assumed to refer to the Castle
Rock. The poem tells of the
Gododdin King Mynyddog Mwynfawr,
and his band of warriors, who, after a year of feasting in their
fortress, set out to do battle with the
Angles at "Catreath" (possibly
Catterick) in Yorkshire. Despite performing glorious deeds of valour
and bravery, the poem relates that the
Gododdin were massacred.
Irish annals record that in 638, after the events related in Y
Gododdin, "Etin" was besieged by the
Angles under Oswald of
Northumbria, and the
Gododdin were defeated. The territory around
Edinburgh then became part of the Kingdom of Northumbria, which was
itself absorbed by England in the 10th century.
Lothian became part of
Scotland, during the reign of Indulf (r.954–962).
The archaeological evidence for the period in question is based
entirely on the analysis of middens (domestic refuse heaps), with no
evidence of structures. Few conclusions can therefore be derived about
the status of the settlement during this period, although the midden
deposits show no clear break since Roman times.
St Margaret, depicted in a stained glass window in the chapel of
High Middle Ages
Scotland in the High Middle Ages
The first documentary reference to a castle at
Edinburgh is John of
Fordun's account of the death of King Malcolm III. Fordun describes
his widow, the future Saint Margaret, as residing at the "
Maidens" when she is brought news of his death in November 1093.
Fordun's account goes on to relate how Margaret died of grief within
days, and how Malcolm's brother Donald Bane laid siege to the castle.
However, Fordun's chronicle was not written until the later 14th
century, and the near-contemporary account of the life of St Margaret
by Bishop Turgot makes no mention of a castle. During the reigns
of Malcolm III and his sons,
Castle became one of the most
significant royal centres in Scotland. Malcolm's son King Edgar
died here in 1107.
Malcolm's youngest son, King David I (r.1124–1153), developed
Edinburgh as a seat of royal power principally through his
administrative reforms (termed by some modern scholars the Davidian
Revolution). Between 1139 and 1150, David held an assembly of
nobles and churchmen, a precursor to the parliament of Scotland, at
the castle. Any buildings or defences would probably have been of
timber, although two stone buildings are documented as having
existed in the 12th century. Of these,
St. Margaret's Chapel
St. Margaret's Chapel remains
at the summit of the rock. The second was a church, dedicated to St.
Mary, which stood on the site of the Scottish National War
Memorial. Given that the southern part of the Upper Ward (where
Crown Square is now sited) was not suited to being built upon until
the construction of the vaults in the 15th century, it seems probable
that any earlier buildings would have been located towards the
northern part of the rock; that is around the area where St.
Margaret's Chapel stands. This has led to a suggestion that the chapel
is the last remnant of a square, stone keep, which would have formed
the bulk of the 12th-century fortification. The structure may have
been similar to the keep of Carlisle Castle, which David I began after
David's successor King Malcolm IV (r.1153–1165) reportedly stayed at
Edinburgh more than at any other location. But in 1174, King
William "the Lion" (r.1165–1214) was captured by the English at the
Battle of Alnwick. He was forced to sign the
Treaty of Falaise to
secure his release, in return for surrendering
Edinburgh Castle, along
with the castles of Berwick, Roxburgh and Stirling, to the English
King, Henry II. The castle was occupied by the English for twelve
years, until 1186, when it was returned to William as the dowry of his
English bride, Ermengarde de Beaumont, who had been chosen for him by
King Henry. By the end of the 12th century,
established as the main repository of Scotland's official state
Wars of Scottish Independence
Robert the Bruce
Robert the Bruce by Thomas Clapperton and William Wallace
Alexander Carrick were added to the
Gatehouse entrance in 1929
A century later, in 1286, on the death of King Alexander III, the
Scotland became vacant.
Edward I of England
Edward I of England was appointed to
adjudicate the competing claims for the Scottish crown, but used the
opportunity to attempt to establish himself as the feudal overlord of
Scotland. During the negotiations, Edward stayed briefly at Edinburgh
Castle and may have received homage there from the Scottish
In March 1296, Edward I launched an invasion of Scotland, unleashing
the First War of Scottish Independence.
Castle soon came
under English control, surrendering after a three days long
bombardment. Following the siege, Edward had many of the Scottish
legal records and royal treasures moved from the castle to
England. A large garrison numbering 325 men was installed in
1300. Edward also brought to
Scotland his master builders of the
Welsh castles, including Thomas de Houghton and Master Walter of
Hereford, both of whom travelled from Wales to Edinburgh. After
the death of Edward I in 1307, however, England's control over
Scotland weakened. On 14 March 1314, a surprise night attack by Thomas
Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray recaptured the castle. John Barbour's
The Brus relates how a party of thirty hand-picked men
were guided by one William Francis, a member of the garrison who knew
of a route along the north face of the
Castle Rock and a place where
the wall might be scaled. Making the difficult ascent, Randolph's men
scaled the wall, surprised the garrison and took control. Robert
the Bruce immediately ordered the destruction of the castle's defences
to prevent its re-occupation by the English. Four months later,
his army secured victory at the Battle of Bannockburn.
After Bruce's death in 1329,
Edward III of England
Edward III of England determined to renew
the attempted subjugation of
Scotland and supported the claim of
Edward Balliol, son of the former King John Balliol, over that of
Bruce's young son David II. Edward invaded in 1333, marking the start
of the Second War of Scottish Independence, and the English forces
reoccupied and refortified
Castle in 1335, holding it
until 1341. This time, the Scottish assault was led by William
Douglas, Lord of Liddesdale. Douglas's party disguised themselves as
Leith bringing supplies to the garrison. Driving a cart
into the entrance, they halted it there to prevent the gates closing.
A larger force hidden nearby rushed to join them and the castle was
retaken. The English garrison, numbering 100, were all killed.
David's Tower and the 15th century
The 1357 Treaty of Berwick brought the Wars of Independence to a
close. David II resumed his rule and set about rebuilding Edinburgh
Castle which became his principal seat of government. David's
Tower was begun around 1367, and was incomplete when David died at the
castle in 1371. It was completed by his successor, Robert II, in the
1370s. The tower stood on the site of the present Half Moon Battery
and was connected by a section of curtain wall to the smaller
Constable's Tower, a round tower built between 1375 and 1379 where the
Portcullis Gate now stands.
A late-16th-century depiction of the castle, from Braun &
Hogenberg's Civitates orbis terrarum, showing David's Tower at the
In the early 15th century, another English invasion, this time under
Henry IV, reached
Castle and began a siege, but eventually
withdrew due to lack of supplies. From 1437, Sir William Crichton
was Keeper of
Edinburgh Castle, and soon after became Chancellor
of Scotland. In an attempt to gain the regency of Scotland, Crichton
sought to break the power of the Douglases, the principal noble family
in the kingdom. The sixteen-year-old William Douglas, 6th Earl of
Douglas and his younger brother David were summoned to Edinburgh
Castle in November 1440. After the so-called "Black Dinner" had taken
place in David's Tower, both boys were summarily executed on
trumped-up charges in the presence of the ten-year-old King James II
(r.1437–1460). Douglas' supporters subsequently besieged the castle,
inflicting damage. Construction continued throughout this period,
with the area now known as Crown Square being laid out over vaults in
the 1430s. Royal apartments were built, forming the nucleus of the
later palace block, and a Great Hall was in existence by 1458. In
1464, access to the castle was improved when the current approach road
up the north-east side of the rock was created to allow easier
movement of the royal artillery train in and out of the area now known
as the Upper Ward.
In 1479, Alexander Stewart, Duke of Albany, was imprisoned in David's
Tower for plotting against his brother, King James III
(r.1460–1488). He escaped by getting his guards drunk, then lowering
himself from a window on a rope. Albany fled to France, then
England, where he allied himself with King Edward IV. In 1482, Albany
Scotland with Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later King
Richard III) and an English army. James III was trapped in the castle
from 22 July to 29 September 1482 until he successfully negotiated a
Castle as it may have looked before the Lang Siege of
1571-73, with David's Tower and the Palace block, centre and left
During the 15th century the castle was increasingly used as an arsenal
and armaments factory. The first known purchase of a gun was in 1384,
and the "great bombard"
Mons Meg was delivered to
1457. The first recorded mention of an armoury for the manufacture
of guns occurs in 1474, and by 1498 the master gunner Robert Borthwick
was casting bronze guns at Edinburgh. By 1511
Edinburgh was the
principal foundry in Scotland, supplanting Stirling Castle, with
Scottish and European smiths working under Borthwick, who by 1512 was
appointed "master melter of the king's guns". Their output
included guns for the Scottish flagship, the "Great Michael", and the
"Seven Sisters", a set of cannon captured by the English at Flodden in
1513. Sir Thomas Howard, England's Lord Admiral, admired their
graceful shape and brilliant finish, declaring them the most beautiful
[cannon] for their size and length that he had ever seen. From
1510 Dutch craftsmen were also producing hand culverins, an early
firearm. After Flodden, Borthwick continued his work, producing an
unknown number of guns, of which none survive. He was succeeded by
French smiths, who began manufacturing hagbuts (another type of
firearm) in the 1550s, and by 1541 the castle had a stock of
Meanwhile, the royal family began to stay more frequently at the Abbey
of Holyrood, about 1 mile (1.6 km) from the castle. Around the
end of the fifteenth century, King James IV (r.1488–1513) built
Holyroodhouse, by the abbey, as his principal
Edinburgh residence, and
the castle's role as a royal home subsequently declined. James IV
did, however, construct the Great Hall, which was completed in the
early 16th century.
16th century and the Lang Siege
Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange, who held the castle on behalf of
Queen Mary during the Lang Siege of 1571-73. Painting by Jean Clouet
James IV was killed in battle at Flodden Field, on 9 September 1513.
Expecting the English to press their advantage, the Scots hastily
constructed a town wall around
Edinburgh and augmented the castle's
defences. Robert Borthwick and a Frenchman, Antoine d'Arces, were
involved in designing new artillery defences and fortifications in
1514, though it appears from lack of evidence that little of the
planned work was carried out. Three years later, King James V
(r.1513–1542), still only five years old, was brought to the castle
for safety. Upon his death 25 years later, the crown passed to his
week-old daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots. English invasions followed,
as King Henry VIII attempted to force a dynastic marriage on Scotland,
Castle remained largely unaffected. Following
these campaigns, refortifications included an earthen angle-bastion,
known as the Spur, of the type known as trace italienne, one of the
earliest examples in Britain. It may have been designed by
Migliorino Ubaldini, an Italian engineer from the court of Henry II of
France, and was said to have the arms of France carved on it.
James V's widow, Mary of Guise, acted as regent from 1554 until her
death at the castle in 1560.
The following year, the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots, returned from
France to begin her reign, which was marred by crises and quarrels
amongst the powerful Protestant Scottish nobility. In 1565, the Queen
made an unpopular marriage with Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, and the
following year, in a small room of the Palace at
Edinburgh Castle, she
gave birth to their son James, who would later be King of both
Scotland and England. Mary's reign was, however, brought to an abrupt
end. Three months after the murder of Darnley at
Kirk o' Field
Kirk o' Field in
1567, she married James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, one of the
chief murder suspects. A large proportion of the nobility rebelled,
resulting ultimately in the imprisonment and forced abdication of Mary
at Loch Leven Castle. She escaped and fled to England, but some of the
nobility remained faithful to her cause.
initially handed by its Captain, James Balfour, to the
who had forced Mary's abdication and now held power in the name of the
infant King James VI. Shortly after the Battle of Langside, in May
1568, Moray appointed Sir
William Kirkcaldy of Grange
William Kirkcaldy of Grange Keeper of the
Detail from a contemporary drawing of
Castle under siege in
1573, showing it surrounded by attacking batteries
Grange was a trusted lieutenant of the Regent, but after Moray's
murder in January 1570 his allegiance to the King's cause began to
waver. Intermittent civil war continued between the supporters of the
two monarchs, and in April 1571
Castle fell to "the King's
men". Under the influence of William Maitland of Lethington, Mary's
secretary, Grange changed sides, occupying the town and castle of
Edinburgh for Queen Mary, and against the new regent, the Earl of
Lennox. The stand-off which followed was not resolved until two
years later, and became known as the "Lang Siege", from the Scots word
for "long". Hostilities began in May, with a month-long siege of the
town, and a second short siege in October. Blockades and skirmishing
continued meanwhile, and Grange continued to refortify the castle. The
King's party appealed to
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I of England for assistance, as
they lacked the artillery and money required to reduce the castle, and
feared that Grange would receive aid from France and the Duke of Alba
in the Spanish Netherlands. Elizabeth sent ambassadors to
negotiate, and in July 1572 a truce was agreed and the blockade
lifted. The town was effectively surrendered to the King's party, with
Grange confined to the castle.
The truce expired on 1 January 1573, and Grange began bombarding the
town. His supplies of powder and shot, however, were running low, and
despite having 40 cannon available, there were only seven gunners in
the garrison. The King's forces, now with the Earl of Morton in
charge as regent, were making headway with plans for a siege. Trenches
were dug to surround the castle, and St Margaret's Well was
poisoned. By February, all Queen Mary's other supporters had
surrendered to the Regent, but Grange resolved to resist despite water
shortages within the castle. The garrison continued to bombard the
town, killing a number of citizens. They also made sorties to set
fires, burning 100 houses in the town and then firing on anyone
attempting to put out the flames.
Sir William Drury, commander of Elizabeth I of England's Protestant
troops who brought the Lang Siege to an end in 1573. Unknown artist
In April, a force of around 1,000 English troops, led by Sir William
Drury, arrived in Edinburgh. They were followed by 27 cannon from
Berwick-upon-Tweed, including one that had been cast within
Castle and captured by the English at Flodden. The
English troops built an artillery emplacement on
immediately facing the east walls of the castle, and five others to
the north, west and south. By 17 May these batteries were ready, and
the bombardment began. Over the next 12 days the gunners dispatched
around 3,000 shots at the castle. On 22 May, the south wall of
David's Tower collapsed, and the next day the Constable's Tower also
fell. The debris blocked the castle entrance, as well as the Fore
Well, although this had already run dry. On 26 May, the English
attacked and captured the Spur, the outer fortification of the castle,
which had been isolated by the collapse. The following day Grange
emerged from the castle by a ladder after calling for a ceasefire to
allow negotiations for a surrender to take place. When it was made
clear that he would not be allowed to go free even if he ended the
siege, Grange resolved to continue the resistance, but the garrison
threatened to mutiny. He therefore arranged for Drury and his men to
enter the castle on 28 May, preferring to surrender to the English
rather than the
Castle was handed over to
George Douglas of Parkhead, the Regent's brother, and the garrison
were allowed to go free. In contrast, Kirkcaldy of Grange, his
brother James and two jewellers, James Mossman and James Cokke, who
had been minting coins in Mary's name inside the castle, were hanged
at the Cross in
Edinburgh on 3 August.
Nova Scotia and Civil War
Much of the castle was subsequently rebuilt by
including the Spur, the new Half Moon Battery and the
Some of these works were supervised by William MacDowall, the master
of work who fifteen years earlier had repaired David's Tower. The
Half Moon Battery, while impressive in size, is considered by
historians to have been an ineffective and outdated artillery
fortification. This may have been due to a shortage of resources,
although the battery's position obscuring the ancient David's Tower
and enhancing the prominence of the palace block, has been seen as a
The battered palace block remained unused, particularly after James VI
departed to become King of England in 1603. James had repairs
carried out in 1584, and in 1615–1616 more extensive repairs were
carried out in preparation for his return visit to Scotland. The
William Wallace and master of works James Murray introduced an
early Scottish example of the double-pile block. The principal
external features were the three, three-storey oriel windows on the
east façade, facing the town and emphasising that this was a palace
rather than just a place of defence. During his visit in 1617,
James held court in the refurbished palace block, but still preferred
to sleep at Holyrood.
Memorial plaque to Sir William Alexander, on the
In 1621, King James granted Sir William Alexander the land in North
New England and Newfoundland, as
Nova Scotia ("New
Scotland"). To promote the settlement and plantation of the new
territory, the Baronetage of
Nova Scotia was created in 1624. Under
Scots Law, baronets had to "take sasine" by symbolically receiving the
earth and stone of the land of which they were baronet. To make this
Nova Scotia was so distant, the King declared that
sasine could be taken either in the new province or alternatively "at
the castle of
Edinburgh as the most eminent and principal place of
James' successor, King Charles I, visited
Castle only once,
hosting a feast in the Great Hall and staying the night before his
Scottish coronation in 1633. This was the last occasion that a
reigning monarch resided in the castle. In 1639, in response to
Charles' attempts to impose Episcopacy on the Scottish Church, civil
war broke out between the King's forces and the Presbyterian
Covenanters. The Covenanters, led by Alexander Leslie, captured
Castle after a short siege, although it was restored to
Charles after the Peace of Berwick in June the same year. The peace
was short-lived, however, and the following year the Covenanters took
the castle again, this time after a three-month siege, during which
the garrison ran out of supplies. The Spur was badly damaged, and was
demolished in the 1640s. The Royalist commander James Graham, 1st
Marquis of Montrose was imprisoned here after his capture in 1650.
In May 1650, the Covenanters signed the Treaty of Breda, allying
themselves with the exiled Charles II against the English
Parliamentarians, who had executed his father the previous year. In
response to the Scots proclaiming Charles King, Oliver Cromwell
launched an invasion of Scotland, defeating the
Covenanter army at
Dunbar in September.
Castle was taken after a three-month
siege, which caused further damage. The Governor of the Castle,
Colonel Walter Dundas, surrendered to Cromwell despite having enough
supplies to hold out, allegedly from a desire to change sides.
Garrison fortress: Jacobites and prisoners of war
An engraving of
Castle made shortly before the creation of
the Esplanade was begun in 1753
After his Restoration in 1660, Charles II opted to maintain a
full-time standing army based on Cromwell's New Model Army. From this
time until 1923, a garrison was continuously maintained at the
castle. The medieval royal castle was transformed into a garrison
fortress, but continued to see military and political action. The
Marquis of Argyll was imprisoned here in 1661, when King Charles II
settled old scores with his enemies following his return to the
throne. Twenty years later, Argyll's son, the 9th Earl of Argyll, was
also imprisoned in the castle for religious
Nonconformism in the reign
of King James VII. He escaped by disguising himself as his sister's
footman, but was recaptured and returned to the castle after his
failed rebellion to oust James from the throne in 1685.
James VII was deposed and exiled by the
Glorious Revolution of 1688,
which installed William of Orange as King of England. Not long after,
in early 1689, the Estates of Scotland, after convening to accept
William formally as their new king, demanded that Duke of Gordon,
Governor of the Castle, surrender the fortress. Gordon, who had been
appointed by James VII as a fellow Catholic, refused. In March 1689,
the castle was blockaded by 7,000 troops against a garrison of 160
men, further weakened by religious disputes. On 18 March, Viscount
Dundee, intent on raising a rebellion in the Highlands, climbed up the
western side of the
Castle Rock to urge Gordon to hold the castle
against the new King. Gordon agreed, but during the ensuing siege
he refused to fire upon the town, while the besiegers inflicted little
damage on the castle. Despite Dundee's initial successes in the north,
Gordon eventually surrendered on 14 June, due to dwindling supplies
and having lost 70 men during the three-month siege. Under the
terms of the Acts of Union, which joined England and
Scotland in 1707,
Edinburgh was one of the four Scottish castles to be maintained and
permanently garrisoned by the new British Army, the others being
Dumbarton and Blackness.
Castle with the Nor Loch in foreground, around 1780, by
The castle was almost taken in the first Jacobite rising in support of
James Stuart, the "Old Pretender", in 1715. On 8 September, just two
days after the rising began, a party of around 100 Jacobite
Highlanders, led by Lord Drummond, attempted to scale the walls with
the assistance of members of the garrison. However, the rope ladder
lowered by the castle sentries was too short, and the alarm was raised
after a change of the watch. The Jacobites fled, while the deserters
within the castle were hanged or flogged. In 1728, General Wade
reported that the castle's defences were decayed and inadequate,
and a major strengthening of the defences was carried out throughout
the 1720s and 1730s. This was the period when most of the artillery
defences and bastions on the north and west sides of the castle were
built. These were designed by military engineer Captain John Romer,
and built by the architect William Adam. They include the Argyle
Battery, Mills Mount Battery, the Low Defences and the Western
The last military action at the castle took place during the second
Jacobite rising of 1745. The Jacobite army, under Charles Edward
Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charlie"), captured
Edinburgh without a fight
in September 1745, but the castle remained in the hands of its ageing
Deputy Governor, General George Preston, who refused to surrender.
After their victory over the government army at Prestonpans on 21
September, the Jacobites attempted to blockade the castle. Preston's
response was to bombard Jacobite positions within the town. After
several buildings had been demolished and four people killed, Charles
called off the blockade. The Jacobites themselves had no heavy
guns with which to respond, and by November they had marched into
Edinburgh to the castle garrison.
Over the next century, the castle vaults were used to hold prisoners
of war during several conflicts, including the Seven Years' War
American War of Independence
American War of Independence (1775–1783) and the
Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815). During this time, several new
buildings were erected within the castle, including powder magazines,
stores, the Governor's House (1742), and the New Barracks
19th century to the present
King George IV waves from the battlements of the Half Moon Battery in
1822, drawn by James Skene
A mass prison break in 1811, in which 49 prisoners of war escaped via
a hole in the south wall, persuaded the authorities that the castle
vaults were no longer suitable as a prison. This use ceased in
1814 and the castle began gradually to assume a different role as
a national monument. In 1818, Sir
Walter Scott was given permission to
search the castle for the Crown of Scotland, believed lost after the
Scotland and England in 1707. Breaking into a sealed room,
now known as the Crown Room, and unlocking a chest within, he
rediscovered the Honours of Scotland, which were then put on public
display with an entry charge of one shilling. In 1822, King
George IV made a visit to Edinburgh, becoming the first reigning
monarch to visit the castle since Charles II in 1651. In 1829, the
Mons Meg was returned from the Tower of London, where it had
been taken as part of the process of disarming
Scotland after "the
'45", and the palace began to be opened up to visitors during the
St Margaret's Chapel
St Margaret's Chapel was "rediscovered" in 1845, having
been used as a store for many years. Works in the 1880s, funded
Edinburgh publisher William Nelson and carried out by Hippolyte
Blanc, saw the Argyle Tower built over the
Portcullis Gate and the
Great Hall restored after years of use as a barracks. A new
Gatehouse was built in 1888. During the 19th century, several schemes
were put forward for rebuilding the whole castle as a Scottish
Baronial style château. Work began in 1858, but was soon abandoned,
and only the hospital building was eventually remodelled in 1897.
Following the death of Prince Albert in 1861, the architect David
Bryce put forward a proposal for a 50-metre (160 ft) keep as a
memorial, but Queen Victoria objected and the scheme was not
Soldiers of the castle garrison in an early photograph c.1845
In 1905, responsibility for the castle was transferred from the War
Office to the Office of Works, although the garrison remained
until 1923, when the troops moved to
Redford Barracks in south-west
Edinburgh. The castle was again used as a prison during the First
World War, when "Red Clydesider"
David Kirkwood was confined in the
military prison block, and during the Second World War, when downed
German Luftwaffe pilots were captured. The position of Governor
Edinburgh Castle, vacant since 1876, was revived in 1935 as an
honorary title for the
General Officer Commanding in Scotland, the
first holder being Lieutenant-General Sir Archibald Cameron of
Lochiel. The castle passed into the care of Historic Scotland
when it was established in 1991, and was designated a Scheduled
Ancient Monument in 1993. The buildings and structures of the
castle are further protected by 24 separate listings, including 13 at
category A, the highest level of protection for a historic building in
Scotland. The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, a World Heritage
Site inscribed by
UNESCO in 1995, is described as "dominated by a
Castle is located at the top of the Royal Mile, at the west
end of Edinburgh's Old Town. The volcanic
Castle Rock offers a
naturally defended position, with sheer cliffs to north and south, and
a steep ascent from the west. The only easy approach is from the town
to the east, and the castle's defences are situated accordingly, with
a series of gates protecting the route to the summit of the Castle
A Esplanade · B Gatehouse · C Ticket office · D
Portcullis Gate & Argyle Tower · E Argyle Battery ·
F Mills Mount Battery & One o'Clock Gun · G
Cartsheds · H Western Defences · I Hospital · J
Butts Battery · K Scottish National War Museum · L
Governors House · M New Barracks · N Military
Prison · O
Royal Scots Museum · P Foog's Gate · Q
Reservoirs · R Mons Meg · S Pet Cemetery · T St.
Margaret's Chapel · U Half Moon Battery · V Crown
Square · W Royal Palace · X Great Hall · Y Queen
Anne Building · Z Scottish National War Memorial
In front of the castle is a long sloping forecourt known as the
Esplanade. Originally the Spur, a 16th-century hornwork, was located
here. The present Esplanade was laid out as a parade ground in 1753,
and extended in 1845. It is upon this Esplanade that the Edinburgh
Military Tattoo takes place annually. From the Esplanade the Half Moon
Battery is prominent, with the Royal Palace to its left.
Gatehouse at the head of the Esplanade was built as an
architecturally cosmetic addition to the castle in 1888. Statues
Robert the Bruce
Robert the Bruce by Thomas Clapperton and
William Wallace by
Alexander Carrick were added in 1929, and the
Latin motto Nemo me
impune lacessit is inscribed above the gate. The dry ditch in front of
the entrance was completed in its present form in 1742. Within
Gatehouse are offices, and to the north is the most recent
addition to the castle; the ticket office, completed in 2008 to a
design by Gareth Hoskins Architects. The road, built by James III
in 1464 for the transport of cannon, leads upward and around to the
north of the Half Moon Battery and the Forewall Battery, to the
Portcullis Gate. In 1990, an alternative access was opened by digging
a tunnel from the north of the esplanade to the north-west part of the
castle, separating visitor traffic from service traffic.
Portcullis Gate and Argyle Tower
Portcullis Gate was begun by the
Regent Morton after the Lang
Siege of 1571–73 to replace the round Constable's Tower, which was
destroyed in the siege. In 1584 the upper parts of the Gatehouse
were completed by William Schaw, and these were further modified
in 1750. In 1886–1887 this plain building was replaced with a
Scots Baronial tower, designed by the architect Hippolyte Blanc,
although the original
Portcullis Gate remains below. The new structure
was named the Argyle Tower, from the fact that the 9th Earl of Argyll
had been held here prior to his execution in 1685. Described as
"restoration in an extreme form", the rebuilding of the Argyle
Tower was the first in a series of works funded by the publisher
Just inside the gate is the Argyle Battery overlooking Princes Street,
with Mills Mount Battery, the location of the One O'Clock Gun, to the
west. Below these is the Low Defence, while at the base of the rock is
the ruined Wellhouse Tower, built in 1362 to guard St. Margaret's
Well. This natural spring provided an important secondary source
of water for the castle, the water being lifted up by a crane mounted
on a platform known as the Crane Bastion.
Governor's House (1742).
The areas to the north and west of the Argyle Tower are largely
occupied by military buildings erected after the castle became a major
garrison in the early 18th century. Adjacent to Mills Mount are
the 18th-century cart sheds, now tea rooms. The Governor's House
to the south was built in 1742 as accommodation for the Governor,
Storekeeper, and Master Gunner, and was used until the post of
Governor became vacant in the later 19th century; it was then used by
nurses of the castle hospital. Today, it functions as an officers'
mess, and as the office of the Governor since the restoration of the
post in 1936.
The New Barracks (1799).
South of the Governor's House are the New Barracks, completed in 1799
to house 600 soldiers, and replacing the outdated accommodation in the
Great Hall. They now house the Regimental Headquarters of the Royal
Scotland and the Regimental Headquarters and Museum of the
Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys). The latter was
opened in 1995 by the regiment's Colonel, Queen Elizabeth II.
Also nearby, in the former
Royal Scots drill hall, constructed in
1900, is the regimental museum of the
Royal Scots (The Royal
Regiment). The military prison was built in 1842 as a detention
block for the castle garrison and was extended in the 1880s. It was
last used in 1923, when the garrison moved to the city's Redford
National War Museum of Scotland
Main article: National War Museum of Scotland
West of the Governor's House, a store for munitions was built in
1747–48 and later extended to form a courtyard, in which the main
gunpowder magazine also stood. In 1897 the area was remodelled as
a military hospital, formerly housed in the Great Hall. The building
to the south of this courtyard is now the National War Museum of
Scotland, which forms part of the National Museums of Scotland. It was
formerly known as the Scottish United Services Museum, and, prior to
this, the Scottish Naval and Military Museum, when it was located in
the Queen Anne Building. It covers Scotland's military history
over the past 400 years, and includes a wide range of military
artefacts, such as uniforms, medals and weapons. The exhibits also
illustrate the history and causes behind the many wars in which
Scottish soldiers have been involved. Beside the museum is Butts
Battery, named after the archery butts (targets) formerly placed
here. Below it are the Western Defences, where a postern, named
the West Sally Port, gives access to the western slope of the
The Upper Ward or Citadel occupies the highest part of the Castle
Rock, and is entered via the late 17th-century Foog's Gate. The
origin of this name is unknown, although it was formerly known as the
Foggy Gate, which may relate to the dense sea-fogs, known as haars,
which commonly affect Edinburgh. Adjacent to the gates are the
large cisterns built to reduce the castle's dependency on well water
and a former fire station, now used as a shop. The summit of the rock
is occupied by
St Margaret's Chapel
St Margaret's Chapel and 15th-century siege gun Mons
Meg. On a ledge below this area is a small 19th-century Dogs' Cemetery
for the burial of the soldiers' regimental mascots. Beside this, the
Lang Stair leads down to the Argyle Battery, past a section of a
medieval bastion, and gives access to the upper storey of the
Argyle Tower. The eastern end of the Upper Ward is occupied by the
Forewall and Half Moon Batteries, with Crown Square to the south.
St. Margaret's Chapel
St. Margaret's Chapel
Main article: St. Margaret's Chapel
The oldest building in the castle, and in Edinburgh, is the small St.
Margaret's Chapel. One of the few 12th-century structures surviving
in any Scottish castle, it dates from the reign of King David I
(r.1124–1153), who built it as a private chapel for the royal family
and dedicated it to his mother, Saint Margaret of Scotland, who died
in the castle in 1093. It survived the slighting of 1314, when the
castle's defences were destroyed on the orders of Robert the Bruce,
and was used as a gunpowder store from the 16th century, when the
present roof was built. In 1845, it was "discovered" by the antiquary
Daniel Wilson, while in use as part of the larger garrison chapel, and
was restored in 1851–1852. The chapel is still used for
religious ceremonies, such as weddings.
The siege gun
Mons Meg described in a 17thC document as "the great
iron murderer called Muckle-Meg" (muckle being Scots for 'big')
Main article: Mons Meg
The 15th-century siege gun or bombard known as
Mons Meg is displayed
on a terrace in front of St. Margaret's Chapel. She was constructed in
Flanders on the orders of
Philip III, Duke of Burgundy
Philip III, Duke of Burgundy in 1449, and
given as a gift to King James II, the husband of his niece, in
1457. The 13,000-pound (5.9 t) gun rests on a reconstructed
carriage, the details of which were copied from an old stone relief
that can be seen inside the tunnel of the
Gatehouse at the castle
entrance. Some of Meg's large gun stones, weighing around 330 pounds
(150 kg) each, are displayed alongside her. On 3 July 1558,
she was fired in salute to celebrate the marriage of Mary, Queen of
Scots to the French dauphin, François II. The royal Treasurer's
Accounts of the time record a payment to soldiers for retrieving one
of her stones from Wardie Muir near the River Forth, fully 2 miles
(3 km) from the castle. The gun has been defunct since her
barrel burst while firing a salute to greet the Duke of Albany, the
future King James VII and II, on his arrival in
Edinburgh on 30
Half Moon Battery and David's Tower
Half Moon Battery and Palace Block seen from the Esplanade
The Half Moon Battery, which remains a prominent feature on the east
side of the castle, was built as part of the reconstruction works
supervised by the
Regent Morton, and was erected between 1573 and
1588. The Forewall to the north was built between 1689 and 1695
to link the Half Moon to the
Portcullis Tower, although part of the
original wall of 1540 was incorporated into it. The Half Moon
Battery was built around and over the ruins of David's Tower, two
storeys of which survive beneath, with windows facing out onto the
interior wall of the battery. David's Tower was built on an L-plan,
the main block being 51 by 38 feet (16 by 12 m), with a wing
measuring 21 by 18 feet (6.4 by 5.5 m) to the west. The
entrance was via a pointed-arched doorway in the inner angle, although
in the 16th century this was filled in to make the tower a solid
rectangle. Prior to the Lang Siege, the tower was recorded as being 59
feet (18 m) high, and the remaining portions stand up to 49 feet
(15 m) from the rock.
Artefacts found during excavation of David's Tower
The tower was rediscovered during routine maintenance work in 1912,
and excavations below the Half Moon Battery revealed the extent of the
surviving buildings. Several rooms are accessible to the public,
although the lower parts are generally closed. Outside the tower, but
within the battery, is a three-storey room, where large portions of
the exterior wall of the tower are still visible, showing shattered
masonry caused by the bombardment of 1573. Beside the tower, a
section of the former curtain wall was discovered, with a gun loop
which overlooked the High Street: a recess was made in the outer
battery wall to reveal this gun loop. Also in 1912–1913, the
adjacent Fore Well was cleared and surveyed, and was found to be 110
feet (34 m) deep, and mostly hewn through the rock below the
The Royal Palace in Crown Square
Crown Square, also known as Palace Yard, was laid out in the 15th
century, during the reign of King James III, as the principal
courtyard of the castle. The foundations were formed by the
construction of a series of large stone vaults built onto the uneven
Castle Rock in the 1430s. These vaults were used as a state prison
until the 19th century, although more important prisoners were held in
the main parts of the castle. The square is formed by the Royal
Palace to the east, the Great Hall to the south, the Queen Anne
Building to the west, and the National War Memorial to the north.
The Royal Palace comprises the former royal apartments, which were the
residence of the later Stewart monarchs. It was begun in the mid 15th
century, during the reign of James IV, and it originally
communicated with David's Tower. The building was extensively
remodelled for the visit of James VI to the castle in 1617, when state
apartments for the King and Queen were built. On the ground floor
is the Laich (low) Hall, now called the King's Dining Room, and a
small room, known as the Birth Chamber or Mary Room, where James VI
was born to Mary, Queen of Scots, in June 1566. The commemorative
painted ceiling and other decoration were added in 1617. On the first
floor is the vaulted Crown Room, built in 1615 to house the Honours of
Scotland: the crown, the sceptre and the sword of state. The
Stone of Scone, upon which the monarchs of
Scotland were traditionally
crowned, has been kept in the Crown Room since its return to Scotland
in 1996. To the south of the palace is the Register House, built in
the 1540s to accommodate state archives.
Interior of the Great Hall
The Great Hall measures 29 by 12.5 metres (95 by 41 ft), and was
the chief place of state assembly in the castle, although there is no
evidence that the Parliament of
Scotland ever met here, as is
sometimes reported. Historians have disagreed over its dating,
although it is usually ascribed to the reign of King James IV, and is
thought to have been completed in the early years of the 16th
century. The decorative carved stone corbels supporting the roof
Renaissance detailing, which has been compared to works at Blois,
France, of around 1515, indicating that the arts in
relatively advanced at this time. It is one of only two medieval
Scotland with an original hammerbeam roof.
Following Oliver Cromwell's seizure of the castle in 1650, the Great
Hall was converted into a barracks for his troops; and in 1737 it was
subdivided into three storeys to house 312 soldiers. Following the
construction of the New Barracks in the 1790s, it became a military
hospital until 1897. It was then restored by
Hippolyte Blanc in line
with contemporary ideas of medieval architecture. The Great Hall
is still occasionally used for ceremonial occasions, and has been used
as a venue on
Hogmanay for BBC Scotland's
Hogmanay Live programme. To
the south of the hall is a section of curtain wall from the 14th
century with a parapet of later date.
The Queen Anne Building (centre-right)
Queen Anne Building
In the 16th century, this area housed the kitchens serving the
adjacent Great Hall, and was later the site of the Royal
Gunhouse. The present building was named after Queen Anne and was
built during the attempted Jacobite invasion by the Old Pretender in
1708. It was designed by Captain Theodore Dury, military engineer for
Scotland, who also designed Dury's Battery, named in his honour, on
the south side of the castle in 1713. The Queen Anne Building
provided accommodation for Staff Officers, but after the departure of
the Army it was remodelled in the 1920s as the Naval and Military
Museum, to complement the newly opened Scottish National War
Memorial. The museum later moved to the former hospital in the
western part of the castle, and the building now houses a function
suite and an education centre.
Scottish National War Memorial
Main article: Scottish National War Memorial
The Scottish National War Memorial
Scottish National War Memorial
Scottish National War Memorial occupies a converted barrack block
on the north side of Crown Square. It stands on the site of the
medieval St. Mary's Church which was rebuilt in 1366, and was
converted into an armoury in 1540. It was demolished in 1755, and the
masonry reused to build a new North Barrack Block on the site.
Proposals for a
Scottish National War Memorial
Scottish National War Memorial were put forward in
1917, during the First World War, and the architect Sir Robert Lorimer
was appointed in 1919. Construction began in 1923, and the memorial
was formally opened on 14 July 1927 by the Prince of Wales. The
exterior is decorated with gargoyles and sculpture, while the interior
contains monuments to individual regiments. The stained-glass windows
are by Douglas Strachan.
The memorial commemorates Scottish soldiers, and those serving with
Scottish regiments, who died in the two world wars and in more recent
conflicts. Upon the altar within the Shrine, placed upon the highest
point of the
Castle Rock, is a sealed casket containing Rolls of
Honour which list over 147,000 names of those soldiers killed in the
First World War. After the Second World War, another 50,000 names were
inscribed on Rolls of Honour held within the Hall, and further names
continue to be added there. The memorial is maintained by a
Castle is in the ownership of the Scottish Ministers as
heads of the devolved Scottish Government. The castle is run and
administered, for the most part, by Historic Scotland, an executive
agency of the Scottish Government, although the Army remains
responsible for some areas, including the New Barracks block and the
military museums. Both Historic
Scotland and the Army share use of the
Guardroom immediately inside the castle entrance.
A re-enactor portraying James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, a husband
of Mary, Queen of Scots, in the Great Hall
Scotland undertakes the dual tasks of operating the castle as
a commercially viable tourist attraction, while simultaneously bearing
responsibility for conservation of the site.
the most popular paid visitor attraction in Scotland, with over 1.4
million visitors in 2013. Historic
Scotland maintains a number
of facilities within the castle, including two cafés/restaurants,
several shops, and numerous historical displays. An educational centre
in the Queen Anne Building runs events for schools and educational
groups, and employs re-enactors in costume and with period
Sentries guarding the Gatehouse
Direct administration of the castle by the
War Office came to an end
in 1905, and in 1923 the Army formally moved to the city's new Redford
Barracks. Nevertheless, the castle continues to have a strong
connection with the Army, and is one of the few ancient castles in
Britain that still has a military garrison, albeit for largely
ceremonial and administrative purposes. Public duties performed by the
garrison include guarding the Honours of Scotland, and armed sentries
stand watch at the
Gatehouse outside opening hours. The post of
Castle is now a ceremonial post, held by the
General Officer Commanding Scotland. The New Barracks contain both the
Governor's House, which serves as the Officers' Mess, and the
Regimental Headquarters of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The Army
retains responsibility for these and for the
Royal Scots Museum and
Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum.
Main article: Royal
Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Royal Marines emerging from
Castle during the military
tattoo in 2005
A series of performances known as the
Edinburgh Military Tattoo (since
2010 the Royal
Edinburgh Military Tattoo) takes place on the Esplanade
each year during August. The basis of each performance is a parade of
the massed pipes and drums of the Scottish regiments, and since its
inception in 1950 the tattoo has developed a complex format which
includes a variety of performers invited from around the world,
although still with a largely military focus. The climax of the
evening is the lone piper on the castle battlements, playing a pibroch
in memory of dead comrades-in-arms, followed by massed bands joining
in a medley of traditional Scottish tunes. The tattoo attracts an
annual audience of around 217,000 people, and is broadcast in some 30
countries to a television audience estimated at 100 million.
One O'Clock Gun
The One O'Clock Gun being fired from Mill's Mount Battery
The One O'Clock Gun is a time signal, fired every day at precisely
13:00, excepting Sunday,
Good Friday and Christmas Day. The 'Time Gun'
was established in 1861 as a time signal for ships in the harbour of
Leith and the Firth of Forth, 2 miles (3 km) away. It
complemented the 'Time Ball', which was installed on the Nelson
Monument in 1852, but was useless as a visual signal in foggy weather.
Because sound travels relatively slowly (approximately 343 metres per
second (770 mph)), a map was produced in 1861 to show the actual
time when the sound of the gun would be heard at various locations
The original gun was an 18-pound muzzle-loading cannon, which needed
four men to load, and was fired from the Half Moon Battery. This was
replaced in 1913 by a 32-pound breech-loader, and in May 1952 by a
25-pound Howitzer. The present One O'Clock Gun is an L118 Light
Gun, brought into service on 30 November 2001. On Sunday 2 April
1916, the One O'Clock Gun was fired in vain at a German Zeppelin
during an air raid, the gun's only known use in war.
The gun is now fired from Mill's Mount Battery, on the north face of
the castle, by the District Gunner from the 105th Regiment Royal
Artillery (Volunteers). Although the gun is no longer required for its
original purpose, the ceremony has become a popular tourist
attraction. The longest-serving District Gunner, Staff Sergeant Thomas
McKay MBE, nicknamed "Tam the Gun", fired the One O'Clock Gun from
1979 until his retirement in January 2005. McKay helped establish the
One O'Clock Gun Association, which opened a small exhibition at Mill's
Mount, and published a book entitled What Time Does Edinburgh's One
O'clock Gun Fire?. In 2006 Sergeant Jamie Shannon, nicknamed
"Shannon the Cannon", became the 29th District Gunner, and in
2006 Bombardier Allison Jones became the first woman to fire the
Symbol of Edinburgh
The castle has become a recognisable symbol of Edinburgh, and of
Scotland. It appears, in stylised form, on the coats of arms of
the City of
Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh. It also
features on the badge of No. 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron which
was based at RAF Turnhouse (now
Edinburgh Airport) during Second World
War. Images of the castle are used as a logo by organisations
Edinburgh Rugby, the
Edinburgh Evening News, Hibernian F.C.
Edinburgh Marathon. It also appears on the "
Castle series" of
Royal Mail postage stamps, and has been represented on various issues
of banknotes issued by Scottish clearing banks. In the 1960s the
castle was illustrated on £5 notes issued by the National Commercial
Bank of Scotland, and since 1987 it has featured on the reverse
of £1 notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Since 2009 the
castle, as part of Edinburgh's World Heritage Site, has appeared on
£10 notes issued by the Clydesdale Bank. The castle is a focal
point for annual fireworks displays which mark Edinburgh's Hogmanay
(new year) celebrations, and the end of the
Edinburgh Festival in
List of Governors of
List of castles in Scotland
Military of Scotland
History of Edinburgh
^ a b c d "Francesca Osowska to Mr Fergus Cochrane" (PDF). Scottish
Government. November 2010. p. 2.
^ Caldwell, pp.20–24
^ a b "Pre-1750 Buildings in
Edinburgh Old Town Conservation Area".
Edinburgh Council, City Development Department. Archived from
the original on 14 June 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2009.
^ a b "Scotland's attractions prove popular with the public". BBC
News. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
^ Lynn Jones Research Ltd. (28 January 2013). "
Survey: Visitrac Survey Response Analysis" (PDF). City of Edinburgh
^ McAdam, p.16
^ MacIvor (1993), p. 16
^ Dunbar, p.192
^ a b c Potter, p.137
^ Harris, p. 11
^ Moffat, pp. 268–270
^ Andrew of Wyntoun, Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland, quoted in Masson,
^ Geoffrey of Monmouth, pp. 78–79
^ Stow, John, Generale Chronicle of England, quoted in Masson, p. 1
^ Potter, p. 12
^ Wilson (1887), p. 298
^ Camden, William (1607). "Lauden or Lothien". Britannia. trans.
^ Halkerston, pp. 8–9: Gillies, p.3
^ Wilson claimed that Father Hay had "no better authority for this
nunnery than the misleading name castellum Puellarum". Wilson (1891),
vol. 1, p. 4, note 4
^ McKean (1991), p. 1
^ Grant (c. 1890), p. 15: McHardy, pp.13–20
^ Potter, p. 141
^ Chalmers, cited in Chambers, pp. 35–36.
^ The claim is advanced by Driscoll & Yeoman (1997, p. 2)
Driscoll & Yeoman, p. 2, although a similar claim is made for
other sites including
Dumbarton Rock and Kilmartin Glen.
^ Driscoll & Yeoman, p. 220
^ Driscoll & Yeoman, pp. 222–223
^ Driscoll & Yeoman, p. 226
^ MacQuarrie, pp.29–30
^ It has been suggested that this is not in fact a proper name of a
ruler at all, but rather adjectives used to refer to the warband as a
whole. For further discussion cf. Koch, John (1993). "Thoughts on the
Ur-Goddodin". Language Sciences. 15 (2): 81.
doi:10.1016/0388-0001(93)90019-O. and Isaac, Graham (1990).
"Mynyddog Mwynfawr". Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies. 37:
^ MacIvor, p.23
^ MacQuarrie, p.37
^ Lynch, p.46
^ Driscoll & Yeoman, p.227
^ Tabraham (1997), p.13
^ a b MacIvor (1993), p.28
^ a b MacIvor (1993), p.30
^ See Lynch, pp.79–83
^ a b Tabraham (2008), p.49
^ Fernie, pp.400–403
^ a b Tabraham (1997), p.23
^ a b c d Salter, p.46
^ MacIvor (1993), p.31
^ a b MacIvor (1993), p.33
^ Tabraham (1997), p.56
^ Lynch, p.120
^ Cruden, pp.70–71
^ A A H Douglas, The Bruce, William Maclennan, Glasgow 1964,
^ Tabraham (2008), p.50
^ G W S Barrow, Robert Bruce,
Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh
1988, p.195 and Chapter 12
^ a b Tabraham (2008), p.51
^ Lynch, p.136
^ a b c d e f g h i j k McWilliam, et al. pp.85–89
^ Tabraham (1997), p.91
^ a b c d e f g h i Salter, p.47
^ a b Tabraham (1997), p.76
^ Cruden, pp.206–208, although neither the 16th-century Holinshed's
Chronicles nor Caldwell (pp.76–78) date Borthwick this early.
^ Caldwell, pp.76–77
^ Cruden, p.209
^ W Mackay Mackenzie, The Secret Of Flodden, Grant & Murray,
Edinburgh 1931, p.50
^ Caldwell, p.81
^ Caldwell, p.78
^ Cruden, p.211
^ MacIvor (1981), p.105
^ a b Tabraham (1997), pp.104–105
^ "Spain: July 1551, 16-31". Calendar of State Papers, Spain. 10:
^ Potter, p.56
^ Potter, p.100
^ Potter, p.105
^ a b Potter, p.131
^ Potter, pp.121–122
^ Potter, p.125
^ Potter, pp.139–140
^ Gray, p.45
^ Potter, p.146: Pitcairn, vol.2, pp.45–46: "Elizabeth: August 1573,
no.713". Calendar of State Papers, Scotland. 4: 604. 1905. Retrieved 7
^ MacIvor (1993), p.69
^ MacIvor (1981), p.146
^ Howard, p.35
^ Tabraham (2008), p.55
^ Tabraham (2008), p.52
^ Howard, p.81
^ Howard, p.38
^ McGrail, p.91
^ a b c d Salter, p.48
^ MacIvor (1993), p.82
^ Scott, p.101
^ Gray, pp.59–63
^ Tabraham (2008), p.58
^ Fenwick, p.108
^ Gray, pp.65–66
Castle Batteries, Listed Building Report". Historic
Scotland. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
^ Gibson, p.30
^ Gibson, pp.38–42
^ Gray, p.72
^ Gibson, p.56
^ Tabraham (2004), pp.25–35
^ DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Europe. Dorling Kindersley Ltd. 2010.
p. 84. ISBN 9781405353045.
^ MacIver 1993, p.100
^ Tabraham (2004), pp.59–63
^ a b Tabraham (2008), p.60
^ a b MacIvor (1993), p.107
^ Devine, p.293
^ Tabraham (2008), p.61
^ Tabraham (2004), p.63
^ Gray, p.79
^ "Entry in the Schedule of Monuments: The Monument known as Edinburgh
Castle" (PDF). Historic Scotland. 1993. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
^ "Listed buildings in
Edinburgh Castle". Historic Scotland. Archived
from the original on 4 June 2015.
^ "Old and New Towns of Edinburgh".
UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
UNESCO. Retrieved 5 June 2011.
^ MacIvor (1993), pp.136–138
^ a b MacIvor (1993), p.136
^ MacIvor (1993), pp.116–117
^ a b c d e f g h i j Salter, p.49
Castle opens new ticket office and launches official
Castle website". Historic Scotland. 21 January 2008.
Retrieved 17 December 2008.
^ MacIvor (1993), p.128
^ MacIvor (1993), p.67
^ MacIvor (1993), p.71
^ McWilliam, et al. p.91
^ a b c d MacIvor (1993), p.114
^ McWilliam, et al. p.89
Edinburgh Castle, Crane Cradle, NMRS Number: NT27SE 1.13". CANMORE.
RCAHMS. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
^ MacIvor (1993), p.89
^ MacIvor (1993), p.95
^ Hardie, p.53
^ Hardie, p.87
^ Hardie, p.92
^ McWilliam, et al. p.102
^ MacIvor (1993), p.123
^ Tabraham (2008), p.38
^ Tabraham (2008), p.41
^ Tabraham (2008), p.18
^ "Weddings at
Edinburgh Castle". Historic Scotland. Retrieved 7
^ "Mons Meg".
Castle website. Historic Scotland. Archived
from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
^ Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland. X. 1913.
pp. lxxv–lxxvi, 367.
^ Grant (1850), p.175
^ a b c Oldrieve, pp.230–270
^ Tabraham (2004), pp.10,13
^ MacIvor (1993), p.137
^ MacIvor (1993), p.62
^ MacIvor (1993), pp.72–74
^ MacIvor (1993), p.51
^ McWilliam et al, p.94
^ a b MacIvor (1993), pp.49–50
^ McWilliam et al, p.97, give 1511 as the completion date; MacIvor
(1993), p.49, gives 1503, although both note that interpretations vary
^ The other is at Darnaway
Castle in Moray. Tabraham (1997), p.73
^ Tabraham (2008), p.56
^ MacIvor (1993), p.90
^ Tabraham (2008), p.36
^ MacIvor (1993), p.98
^ a b Henderson, Diana M. "History of the Scottish National War
Memorial". Scottish National War Memorial. Archived from the original
on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
^ McWilliam et al, pp.99–100
^ "Scottish National War Memorial". UK National Inventory of War
Memorials. Retrieved 3 May 2011.
^ "Scottish National War Memorial, SC009869". Scottish Charity
Register. Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. Retrieved 13 June
^ "Visits made in 2011 to visitor attractions in membership with
ALVA". Association of Leading Visitor Attractions. Archived from the
original on 13 April 2015.
^ "Costumed Performers".
Castle website. Historic Scotland.
Retrieved 4 July 2013.
Edinburgh Castle". British Army. Archived from the original on 2
^ "About the Tattoo".
Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Archived from the
original on 7 October 2013.
Edinburgh Tattoo 2014".
Edinburgh Tattoo. Archived from the
original on 8 September 2014.
^ "Time Gun-Maps". EdinPhoto. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
^ "1952 - 25 Pounder". The One O'Clock Gun Association. Archived from
the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
^ ""Tam the Gun" heralds the start of a new era as Edinburgh's new One
O'Clock Gun is fired from the Castle".
Edinburgh Military Tattoo. 30
November 2001. Archived from the original on 11 June 2002.
^ "When zeppelins rained terror".
Scotland Magazine. Paragraph
Publishing. June 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2014. So desperate were the
military for weapons that even the One O’Clock Gun was aimed
skywards, the only time in its history since 1861 ever to see action.
Not that this was much use, for the rounds were blanks as they always
^ McKay, pp. 14–15
^ "Meet Shannon the Cannon". Scotsman.com. 5 October 2006. Retrieved
11 March 2013.
^ "Female first for One O'Clock Gun". BBC. 24 March 2006.
^ Tabraham (2008), p.63
^ Simpson, Bill (2007). Spitfire Dive-Bombers Versus the V2. Pen &
Sword Aviation. p. 138. ISBN 9781844155712.
^ "5 Pounds Scotland's Banknote". Banknote World. Retrieved 4 June
^ "Banknote Design Features : The Royal Bank of Scotland". The
Committee of Scottish Bankers. Archived from the original on 2
December 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
^ "Banknote Design Features :
Clydesdale Bank World Heritage
Series". The Committee of Scottish Bankers. Retrieved 4 June
^ "Street party". Edinburgh's Hogmanay. Archived from the original on
11 December 2012.
^ "Virgin Money Fireworks Concert".
Edinburgh International Festival.
Archived from the original on 4 June 2013.
Ashmole, Myrtle (1981). Harpers Handbook to Edinburgh. Noel Collins.
Caldwell, David H (1981). "Royal Patronage of Arms and Armour Making".
In Caldwell, David H. Scottish Weapons and Fortifications 1100–1800.
John Donald. ISBN 0-85976-047-2.
Caldwell, David H (National Museums of Scotland) (2014). "Besieged".
Scotland magazine: 20–24.
Camden, William (1607). "Lauden or Lothien". Britannia. trans.
Chambers, Robert (1859).
Edinburgh Papers: Ancient Domestic
Architecture of Edinburgh:
Castle as before the Siege of
1573. Edinburgh: Wm & Rob't Chambers.
Cruden, Stewart (1981). The Scottish
Castle (3rd ed.). Spurbooks.
Devine, T.M. (2000). The Scottish Nation: 1700–2000. Penguin.
Dictionary of National Biography. London and Oxford:Oxford University
Driscoll, S.T.; Yeoman, Peter (1997). Excavations within Edinburgh
Castle in 1988-91. Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.
Dunbar, John (1999). Scottish Royal Palaces: The Architecture of the
Royal Residences during the Late Medieval and Early Renaissance
Periods. Tuckwell Press. ISBN 1-86232-042-X.
Fenwick, Hugh (1976). Scotland's Castles. Robert Hale.
Fernie, Eric (1986). "Early Church Architecture in Scotland" (PDF).
Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. 116:
Geoffrey of Monmouth (1966). Lewis G. M. Thorpe, ed. The History of
the Kings of Britain. Penguin Classics. ISBN 0-14-044170-0.
Gibson, John Sibbald (1995).
Edinburgh in the '45. Saltire Society.
Gillies, James (1886).
Edinburgh Past And Present. Oliphant, Anderson
& Ferrier. ISBN 978-1-4086-6024-9.
Grant, James (1850). Memorials of the
Castle of Edinburgh. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Grant, James (c. 1890). Old and New Edinburgh. I. Cassell and Co.
Gray, W. Forbes (1948). A Short History of
Edinburgh: Moray Press.
Halkerston, Peter (1831). A Treatise on the History, Law, and
Privileges of the Palace and Sanctuary of Holyroodhouse. Maclachlan
and Stewart. ISBN 978-1-4097-8829-4.
Hardie, Alastair M R (2004). Edinburgh's
Castle in the Air. London:
Serendpity. ISBN 1-84394-111-2.
Harris, Stuart (2002). The Place Names of Edinburgh: Their Origins and
History. London: Steve Savage Publishers.
Howard, Deborah (1995). Scottish Architecture from the Reformation to
the Restoration, 1560–1660. The Architectural History of Scotland.
Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-0-7486-0530-9.
Hussey, Christopher (1931). The Work of Sir Robert Lorimer.
Lynch, Michael (1992). Scotland: A New History. Pimlico.
Macritchie, David (14 March 1838). "Notes on the Words Men and Maiden
in British Topography" (PDF). Proceedings of the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland. XXXII: 158–166.
McAdam, David (2003).
Edinburgh and West Lothian: a landscape
fashioned by geology. Scottish Natural Heritage.
McGrail, Thomas H (1940). Sir William Alexander, First Earl of
Stirling: A biographical study. Oliver & Boyd.
McHardy, Stuart (2007). Tales of
Edinburgh Castle. Luath.
MacIvor, Iain (1981). "Artillery and Major Places of Strength in the
Lothians". In Caldwell, David H. Scottish Weapons and Fortifications
1100–1800. John Donald. ISBN 0-85976-047-2.
MacIvor, Iain (1993).
Edinburgh Castle. B. T. Batsford.
McKay, Tam (2002). What Time Does Edinburgh's One O'clock Gun Fire?.
Cadies/Witchery Tours. ISBN 978-0-9522927-3-9.
McKean, Charles (1991). Edinburgh, Portrait of a City. Ebury Press.
MacQuarrie, Alan (2004). Medieval Scotland: Kingship and Nation. The
History Press. ISBN 0-7509-2977-4.
McWilliam, Colin; Gifford, John; Walker, David (1984). Edinburgh. The
Buildings of Scotland. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-071068-7.
Masson, Rosaline, ed. (1912). In Praise of Edinburgh, an Anthology in
Prose and Verse. Constable and Co.
Moffat, Alistair (2005). Before Scotland: The Story of
History. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-05133-X.
Oldrieve, W. T. (1914). "Account of the recent discovery of the
Remains of David's Tower at
Edinburgh Castle" (PDF). Proceedings of
the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. 48: 230–270.
Paul, James Balfour, ed. (1913). Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer
of Scotland. X. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House.
Pitcairn, Robert, ed. (1833). Criminal trials in Scotland, from 1488
to 1624. 2. Edinburgh: William Tait.
Potter, Harry (2003).
Edinburgh Under Siege: 1571–1573. Tempus.
Salter, Mike (1994). The Castles of
Lothian and the Borders. Folly
Publications. ISBN 1-871731-20-8.
Scott, Andrew Murray (2000). Bonnie Dundee. John Donald.
Scott-Moncrieff, George (1965). Edinburgh.
Tabraham, Chris (1997). Scotland's Castles. BT Batsford/Historic
Scotland. ISBN 0-7134-7965-5.
Tabraham, Chris; Grove, Doreen (2001).
Scotland and the
Jacobites. Batsford. ISBN 978-0-7134-7484-8.
Tabraham, Chris (2004).
Edinburgh Castle: Prisons of War. Historic
Scotland. ISBN 1-903570-99-9.
Tabraham, Chris (2008).
Edinburgh Castle: Official Guide. Historic
Scotland. ISBN 1-903570-33-6.
Tyler, Royall, ed. (1914). Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 10:
Wilson, Daniel (1887). "Notice of St Margaret's Chapel, Edinburgh
Castle" (PDF). Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.
Wilson, Daniel (1891). Memorials of
Edinburgh in the Olden Time. 1
(2nd ed.). Adam & Charles Black.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Castle – site information from Historic Environment
Scottish National War Memorial
Scottish National War Memorial website
Edinburgh Castle, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical
Scotland "Canmore" database
Castle from the Royal Commission on the Ancient
and Historical Monuments of Scotland
Engraving of view of the North East view of
Castle in 1693
John Slezer at National Library of Scotland
Time-Gun Map of
Leith 1861 at edinphoto
Royal palaces and residences in the United Kingdom
Birkhall & Craigowan Lodge
St James's Palace
St James's Palace & Clarence House
Kensington Palace & Wren House
Anmer Hall & Wood Farm
Tamarisk (Isles of Scilly)
Thatched House Lodge
Castle & Royal Lodge, Windsor
Historical principal royal residences
St James's Palace
Hampton Court Palace
Tower of London
Audley End House
Palace of Beaulieu
Fort Belvedere, Windsor
Birch Hall, Surrey
Cambridge Cottage, Kew
Castle Hill Lodge, Ealing
Castlewood House, Surrey
Christ Church, Oxford
Crocker End House
Crosby Hall, London
Gloucester House, London
Hampton Court Palace
Kent House (Isle of Wight)
Kew House (Isle of Wight)
King's House, Winchester
Kings Langley Palace
Les Jolies Eaux
Tower of London
Castle of Mey
Nether Lypiatt Manor
Oak Grove House
Palace of Placentia
Queen Charlotte's Cottage, Kew
Richmond Palace & White Lodge
Royal City of Dublin Hospital
Royal Pavilion, Aldershot
Royal Pavilion, Brighton
Palace of Westminster
Palace of Whitehall
Palace of Whitehall & the Banqueting House
York Cottage, Sandringham
York House, St James's Palace
Mary, Queen of Scots
Burke and Hare
Kingdom of Scotland
Act of Union 1707
Parliament of Scotland
Treaty of Edinburgh
Church of Scotland
Disruption of 1843
North British Railway
Visit of King George IV
Sir Walter Scott
Edwin of Northumbria
Edinburgh Stock Exchange
Lord Provost of Edinburgh
National Museum of Scotland
Scottish Parliament Building
Forth Rail Bridge
Forth Road Bridge
St Giles' Cathedral
Edinburgh International Conference Centre
Royal Scottish Academy
Scottish National Gallery
Princes Street Gardens
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
St Andrew's House
Our Dynamic Earth
Scottish National Gallery
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Bank of Scotland
The Royal Bank of Scotland
Edinburgh Waverley railway station
Haymarket railway station
Edinburgh City Bypass
Health and education
University of Edinburgh
Queen Margaret University
Edinburgh College of Art
Moray House School of Education
Scotland's Rural College
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Edinburgh International Festival
Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Edinburgh International Film Festival
Edinburgh International Television Festival
Geography of Edinburgh
Beer in Edinburgh
Famous people from Edinburgh