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Edinburgh Castle

an ancient fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, and Scotland's second most visited landmark

panorama view of Edinburgh Castle

The Castle is one of the few ancient castles which still has a military garrison, albeit for ceremonial purposes only. It is the official headquarters of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and the 52nd Infantry Brigade, as well as home to the regimental museum of the Royal Scots and Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.

Chronology of Major Events

~600 Three hundred men gathered around King Mynyddog in his stronghold of Din Eidyn. The men were preparing to attack the Angles, recent invaders from Europe. Most of them died during a raid into Yorkshire. (This is the first historical mention of what is now known as Edinburgh.)

638 Din Eidyn was besieged and taken by the Angles. (This is probably when the place acquired the English name of Edinburgh.)

1093 Queen Margaret, wife of Malcolm III, died soon after hearing that her husband had been killed at Alnwick in Northumberland. (below: A tiny chapel, built on the summit of the castle rock in the early twelfth century, is dedicated to her memory and is the oldest building in Edinburgh. She was made a saint by Pope Innocent IV in 1250.)
Queen Margaret Chapel

1296 King Edward I of England besieged and captured Edinburgh Castle.
March 14, 1314 Sir Thomas Randolph, the nephew of King Robert the Bruce, and his men climbed the north face of Edinburgh Castle Rock, took the English garrison by surprise and won the castle back.

1449 James II married Mary of Gueldres in Holyrood Abbey. That same year a great siege gun, made for the Queen's uncle, the Duke of Burgundy, was tested at Mons (now in Belgium).
1457 The Mons Meg gun was shipped to Scotland as a present to the King and Queen. (below: The gun barrel burst open while being fired in celebration of the Duke of Albany's birthday in 1681. It has since been restored and is now on display on the upper levels of the Castle.)

Mons Meg

June 19, 1566 Mary, Queen of Scots, gave birth to Prince James in Edinburgh Castle.

May 16, 1568 Mary, Queen of Scots, fled to England and James became King of Scots.
1571 Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange, keeper of Edinburgh Castle, came out in support of the exiled Queen. Supporters of the King laid siege to the castle.
May 1573 England sent a large force and heavy artillery at the request of the King's supporters. After an eleven-day bombardment, the east defenses were breached. Kirkcaldy surrendered and was subsequently executed. (Much of the castle as seen today dates from the rebuilding efforts undertaken after this date.)

1688 King James VII of Scotland fled into exile. The governor of Edinburgh Castle at the time was the Duke of Gordon, a firm supporter of King James, who prepared the Castle for a siege.
March 1689 Edinburgh Castle was besieged.
June 13, 1689 Gordon surrendered Edinburgh Castle. (This was the last real action the Castle saw.)

March 19, 1707 The Act uniting Scotland and England was passed in the Scottish Parliament, after which the Crown, Sword and Sceptre were brought back to Edinburgh Castle and locked away.
February 1818 Sir Walter Scott, with permission from the Prince Regent, broke into the room where the Honours had supposedly been locked away. He found them lying at the bottom of a chest covered with linen cloths "exactly as they had been left". They were immediately put on display in the room where they were discovered, so beginning Edinburgh Castle's new role as Scotland's premier visitor attraction.

aerial view of Edinburgh Castle
aerial view of Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

King James VI of Scotland
Sir Walter Scott

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The Robinson Library >> General and Old World History >> Great Britain >> Scotland >> Edinburgh

This page was last updated on December 16, 2017.