Edinburgh Castle – home of the honors…

J & K with the upper keep in the background.

J & K with the upper keep in the background.

Edinburgh Castle is at one end of the downtown area of Edinburgh, the uphill side, as the castle sits on the top of the hill with sweeping views of the city below. it’s a great place to build a castle.

A view from below the castle looking up.  Sheer cliff and 15 meter walls.  I could get over that, but it's also a bit windy, so next time.

A view from below the castle looking up. Sheer cliff and 15 meter walls. I could get over that, but it’s also a bit windy, so next time.

However, because it is a downtown castle, everyone wants to visit. We should have bought tickets in advance, as the ticket collection line was empty and the tickets to buy today line was almost an hour. So lesson learned. J wasn’t keen on me buying 10 tickets and selling 8 of them to the poor folks at the back of the line for a small service fee, so up we went to the castle with just our tickets.

Same view as painted in 1860, from the Scottish National Gallery.

Same view as painted in 1860, from the Scottish National Gallery.

The castle was quite dirty on the outside, a hundred years on industrial pollution has left a bit of a tinge to the castle walls that really detract from the beauty, but I guess they are meant to keep folks out and not look pretty. We climbed up to the top straight-away and started to wander about. There are a bunch of mini-museums that have niche subjects like the dragoons, the history of Scottish military, metals and heroes from Scotland, and the Crown jewels.

Sighting down the cannon at downtown.  Silly tourists!

Sighting down the cannon at downtown. Silly tourists!

The crown jewels really showed that Scotland had been beat up and under the foot of the man (or woman) for a very long time. After a winding slow queue through various factoid hallways and stories about “the honors” and how they moved through history, we came to the grand unveiling. Sorry to all the Scots out there, but the crown jewels are really just a rock, a stick, a sword, and a hat. Now it’s a nice hat with what look like a few pearls on it, but the sword is a bit busted down and scrapped, the scabbard is broken, and then the stone of destiny is really just a rock with a couple of iron rings in it.

Looking out at the church and Arthur's seat behind.

Looking out at the church and Arthur’s seat behind.

From there we visited the prison mini-museum. Who knew the castle housed so many POWs from various wars. Many were sailors. They came from all over. A fair number were Americans from the revolutionary war. A bunch of french from the Napoleonic wars and the French revolution. Several thousand were kept in the castle. FYI, POW prison in the 1700 and 1800’s don’t look particularly inviting.

The inner keep.  I think this is showing the great hall, which overlooks the cliff face in the prior picture.

The inner keep. I think this is showing the great hall, which overlooks the cliff face in the prior picture.

From there we mingled over with everyone else to watch the Edinburgh Castle folks tell us what time it was. At 1pm, a large piece of artillery rang out to chime the hour.

Artillery is surprisingly loud.

Artillery is surprisingly loud.

These Scots are budget minded folk.