Friday, October 7, 2011

Royally Good Times

The next day, we were still in Edinburgh and started the day with a trip to the Edinburgh castle.  Where to start?  Wow that was awesome.  The view from the walls is great, and slightly closer than, say, looking at the city from on top of the mountain of last post.  The castle itself has gone through many, many different incarnations.  The only parts of it left from the middle ages, for example, are a chapel and some towers buried beneath the rest.  The chapel is tiny--a little thing perched on top of a rock with probably enough room to fit 15 people comfortably, 20 if you want to squish.  They put in new stained glass windows upon rediscovering it (after it had been used by the army as a powder magazine) and still use it for baptisms and marriages in the army.  The other part, the tower, was where the infamous Black Dinner was held.
"Sir William Crichton was keeper of the castle in 1440 when the infamous Black dinner took place. Using his position he invited his arch-rivals the sixth Earl of Douglas and his younger brother, David, to dine with the king in the castle. When the great feast was over Crichton presented the Earl a bulls head which was the sign of condemnation to death. The king protested but to no effect. After dinner the 2 Douglases were dragged to Castle Hill and executed. The Douglas clan then laid seige to Edinburgh Castle and Crichton percieving the danger surrendered the castle to the king and an uneasy truce was declared."
They had a little light slideshow thing on the wall of the castle with some noises in the background to give slight illustration to the story on the placard.
Other interesting parts of the castle--there was a Dragoon Museum, the chambers where Mary, Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI/James I, depending on whether you're Scottish or English, respectively, and the story of and a display case with the Scottish Crown Jewels, including the Stone of Scone which still comes out for coronations.
There was also a very impressive war memorial.  There are war memorials all over the UK; many of the museums have something dedicated to the memory of those from that museum who served, especially in one or both of the World Wars, and I found on my first day a memorial in the Baker Street tube station to the former railway employees who had served.  The one at the castle wasn't a plaque, it was a whole building.  The outside had been carved with images of the virtues in prominent positions, animals representing the vices, and the inside had badges and flags from many regiments, as well as a regularly updated roll of honor, and the original in a cask on a block of marble, under an image of Michael treading on and slaying a dragon.  It felt very solemn and I was glad of the chance to see it.

To be continued.


  1. I just read about the Animals in War Memorial in London; have you seen it?--JCD

  2. I haven't seen that yet, I don't think...there are a lot of war memorials, so I'd have to find the right one.
    I did see one of the servicemen from Australia and places where they fought.