Stirling Castle sits 250 feet on top of a old volcano site and was one of the most important strategic strongholds of Scotland for centuries, built from what I can figure out after a lot of research in the early 11th century, originally constructed from wood and later that century slowly transformed into the stronghold stone castle that it is today. It was said that if you held that castle then you ruled Scotland.
It changed rulership between England and Scotland more times than years I have lived, and is currently just a massive tourist destination, immaculately if not a little lifelessly restored.
That said, the castle has an amazing presence as you drive up the hill into Stirling;
Sitting so high up in the mountain gives Stirling Castle it’s strategic advantage, providing uninterrupted views almost 360 degrees in all directions out over the Clyde River. Today was not my best day of photography by a long shot but bear with me, there are some good ones.
This was taken standing at one of the Eastern top most points of the castle looking out over to the William Wallace Monument. It really does give you a taste for some great historical moments.
Once inside the castle, you really get a different sense. It feels like a restoration.
There was a lot of work going on and much of what I saw had a very new feel to it. The Great Hall seems to be a more faithful restoration, but it feels a bit empty and didn’t have a whole lot to look at inside, other than some more pictures of Unicorns. Unicorns are always cool.
A part of what I didn’t like when compared to Edinburgh Castle is the way in which the restoration appears. It has a certain modern day glitz to it, acrylic looking paints and no gold leaf. Instead of highlighting the way it may have looked it felt to me like it had been over-dressed and lacked a certain depth that might create atmosphere.
Seriously, some of the paint looked like water colour washes instead of deep rich oil paints which may have been more authentic to the period. The image below of the Stirling Heads fully recreated and restored in the King’s Presence Chamber.
Do they look authentic to you?
I can’t remember for the life of me what room this is in but here is another completely glammed up Unicorn plaque.
Later on we found a Tapestry Room where a lady was painstakingly slowly recreating new Tapestries for the castle.
I think she will still be there in 2150 if you care to drop by, and of course she is also creating rich beautiful pictures of Unicorns but no cameras were allowed in there.
Not normally one for statues I really liked this one and the way he stood looking out over the valley. A noble looking gentleman this is Robert the Bruce, the King of Scots who secured Scotland’s independence from England. A very significant man in history for Scotland, taking up an important historic vantage point at the castle for the rest of days…
I bet he slay unicorns and smoked weed through a pipe made from a unicorns horn.
What sets Stirling apart from Edinburgh as far as restoration goes is authenticity. Wheareas it appears to me that Edinburgh has stayed closer to trying to keep it original, Stirling seems to have given up on old processes and install this kind of modern abomination, a highly polished aluminium and glass Applesque staircase. It wrecks the atmosphere and once inside the castle you could almost imagine being in a department store. Sad. So much important history turned into an other ‘exit through the gift shop’ moment.
And of course last but not least I found a mailbox in Stirling town, not to disappoint.
I hope my views of the castle don’t discourage anyone from visiting, it is an amazing and impressive place to be, I simply think from my aussie travellers viewpoint Stirling Castle didn’t manage to capture the same sense of historic awe that Edinburgh Castle just belts out of every dungeon and hallway.
I almost forgot, I promised pyramids. Well here it is.
Outside the church is the Valley Cemetery. In past times was the site of jousting tournaments and markets. The Cemetery has a Pyramid called the Star Pyramid, built by William Drummond in 1863.