Monday, October 3, 2016

162. King of the Castle and Queen of the Palace ...

The two star attractions when visiting Edinburgh must be Edinburgh Castle and The Palace of Holyroodhouse and both are joined by the Royal Mile - an ancient thoroughfare lined with mainly Georgian-style buildings - including St Giles cathedral ( which dates back to the 14thC ) - but today the streets are lined with cheap souvenir shops and even cheaper eateries enticing the thousands of tourists that treat the cobblestones each day.


Edinburgh Castle is an historic fortress which dominates the city skyline from its position on the Castle Rock in the centre of the city. Archaeologists have established human occupation of the rock since at least the Iron Age (2nd century AD).




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.



Seen from every angle throughout the city and surrounding suburbs, the Castle is an imposing reminder of Scoland's history.



 The summit of the Castle Rock is 130 metres 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.




 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.



In 1561 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 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 and the crown was bestowed on the head of the infant King James VI.



The castle is also the site of the Scottish National War Memorial and the National War Museum of Scotland. The British Army is still responsible for some parts of the castle, although its presence is now largely ceremonial and administrative.

The Great Hall
 



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.



As one of the most important strongholds in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle was involved in many historical conflicts from the 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".

 
Graves of dogs that have resided within the Castle ...


Leaving the Castle walls 
 
and negotiating my way down the Royal Mile 

to the gates of the Palace of Holyroodhouse
 


The Palace of Holyroodhouse  is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland and is located at the bottom of the Royal Mile, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle. The Palace has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century, and is still used as a setting for state occasions and official entertaining.




Queen Elizabeth spends one week in residence at Holyrood Palace at the beginning of each summer, where she carries out a range of official engagements and ceremonies. 




The palace as it stands today was built between 1671-1678 designed by Sir William Bruce. The plain Doric order is used for the services at ground floor, the Ionic order is used for the state apartments on the first floor while the elaborate Corinthian order is used for the royal apartments on the second floor.



  

The 16th century Historic Apartments of Mary, Queen of Scots and the State Apartments, used for official and state entertaining, are open to the public throughout the year, except when members of the Royal Family are in residence.
 


The palace has seen many monarchs come and go and changes in layout and function. And the occasional occupation and looting by opposing forces – including in   1650, either by accident or design, when the east range of the palace was set on fire during its occupation by Oliver Cromwell's soldiers. 


Photography is not allowed inside the Palace - so for me it was a game of hide-n-seek from the guards to record my visit ... 
 


The Great Gallery, the largest room in the palace, is decorated with 110 portraits of the Scottish monarchs, beginning with the legendary Fergus I, who supposedly ruled from 330 BC. The portraits were all completed between 1684 and 1686 by Jacob de Wet II.


After 1707, Scotland's representative peers were elected here to be sent to Westminster. Bonnie Prince Charlie held evening balls in the gallery during his brief occupation, and it later became a Catholic chapel for the Comte d'Artois. Today it is used for large functions including investitures and banquets.
Mary Queen of Scots still in residence
 


The roof of the abbey church - ajoining the Palace - collapsed in 1768 ...

  leaving it as it currently stands ...
 
Back stairs for paramours on the run ...



The gardens of the palace extend to some 10 acres (4.0 ha) ...
 
set within the much larger Holyrood Park ...
 

which includes Arthur’s Seat to the west.
 
Attached to the palace is the Queen's Gallery ...


housing an exhibition of artworks from the royal collection ...







Although what looked like the royal standard was flying, I don't think any of the Windsor clan were in residence ...
An interesting delve into the history books ...
Next I'll take you on a tour of the magnificent Portraits Gallery ... hope you can join me ...