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  • Writer's picturePamela Lawton

Culture and History at Edinburgh Castle

I spent my 60th birthday today touring Edinburgh Castle--so much history much of it sad, but a testament to the bravery, pride, and resilience of the Scottish people. It's our 9th day in Edinburgh and sunny but very windy. Thankfully it wasn't very crowded. We took the bus to Grassmarket and walked up a lot of steps as the castle sits high upon the basalt core of an extinct volcano. There are excellent views of the city here. The Castle served as military stronghold, prison, and royal palace. Archeological excavations date the first settlement on the rock to the Bronze Age about 900 BC. The oldest existing structure in the castle complex is St. Margaret's Chapel, dedicated to Queen Margaret, built in the early 12th century. There is a lovely stained glass window depicting her (see below). At 1:00 we witnessed the firing of the 1:00 Gun--quite loud and impressive. We also saw the Honours of Scotland--the Crown, Sword and Septre (the oldest in Britain) of Scottish kings and the fabled Stone of Destiny--Scotland's ancient king making stone removed by the invading English King Edward I in 1296 and returned by Queen Elizabeth II in 1996--it only took 700 years to get it back! Last we stopped by the European Name Histories desk and got printed copies of the history and family crest of our surnames, Lawton and Harris. I'm a double Harris as both my mother and father have the surname. We ended the day with an early dinner at Bella Italia on the Royal Mile.

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