Sunday, 14 May 2017

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle dominates the city's skyline. It is a stunning fortress. 



And, perched atop an ancient volcanic plug, it is seemingly impenetrable. 



Edinburgh Castle dates from the 12th century and has been part of Edinburgh's defensive ever since. Once also used as a royal residence, the castle boasts incredible history. 



The Castle's primary purpose was as a military defensive. 




The Castle was also used extensively as a war prison. The first prisoners were french privateers captured at the start of the Seven Years War. Subsequent prisoners included Caribbean pirates captured off the Argyll coast and subsequently hung in Leith, and American prisoners captured during the American Revolution. 










The oldest building on the castle grounds is St Margaret's Chapel. This is also the oldest building in Edinburgh. The Chapel was built for use by the royal family and is small and intimate as a result. Unlike larger cathedral Kirks, the chapel is less than ornate but beautiful in its simplicity.







At the foot of the Castle Esplanade, where a woollen mill outlet now stands, there was once a reservoir known as Castle Hill Reservoir. This supplied water for the upper part of the Royal Mile. It was here that people who had been accused of witchcraft were burned at the stake, or drowned in the reservoir. 




And a little known fact about Edinburgh Castle is that part of it belongs to Nova Scotia. As early as 1624, King James I (King James VI of England) offered a number of baronetcies to his loyal landowners. These land grants were in what is now Nova Scotia. In order to fulfill the qualifications of receiving crown land, the receiver was to stand on his plot of land and declare allegiance to the King. The distance involved called for some creativity and so King James VI & I declared a portion of Edinburgh Castle as “Nova Scotia” so that the potential landowners could stand on this “portion of Nova Scotia” and declare their allegiance without having to travel to the Americas. On the wall, just outside the main gate of the Castle, is this sign:


The sign reads:


“Near this spot in 1625 Sir William Alexander of Menstrie Earl of Stirling received sasine or lawful possession of the Royal Province of Nova Scotia by the ancient and symbolic ceremony of delivery of earth and stone from Castlehill by a representative of the King. Here also, the Scottish Baronets of Nova Scotia received sasine of their distant baronies.”

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