“I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore Toto…”
It took a week or so but we finally made it to Edinburgh Castle. It is just as amazing, and interesting, and awe inspiring, as one would imagine it to be. We happened to go on a day so cloudy and rainy that we really couldn’t see the view from the top in it’s entirety. Even with limited vision though, it was an amazing sight. The castle has hundreds of years of history which the city of Edinburgh has taken great lengths to preserve and keep alive even today. I didn’t take as many photos as I should’ve, and I apologize for that but I DID manage to save some of the photos I used from my epic Snapchat story.
We started in a huge war museum down at the bottom of the castle. I don’t remember the earliest exhibit but it ran all the way up to the present day with pictures of soldiers currently in Afghanistan. I personally fell totally in love with two swords that had been present in the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. (No pictures. Sorry :-/) One sword had been surrendered to the Americans after the British defeat and stayed with an American family up until the 21st century where it was then donated to the museum. The other was used in one of the only battles where the British were victorious over the Americans and was considered a prized object. Seeing these two swords in a display while listening to the new musical “Hamilton” (which is literally all about how America came to be a nation) was very humbling and amazing to witness. Yes, I was listening to a musical while walking through a museum. So sue me! (Actually don’t though. I’m way too poor)
Next we went down to the Edinburgh Castle prison and saw how prisoners of war would’ve lived. Turns out, POW didn’t have it quite as badly as one would expect. They received a good amount of rations, tools, clothes, and even supplies to make crafts which they could then sell. Americans had it the worst of all POW as they were considered pirates and not worthy of the same respect as the others. One of the most amazing things in that exhibit was seeing three original doors used to keep the prisoners locked away that had carvings all over them. Names, and phrases, and dates covered the doors as well as one of the very first renderings of the U.S. flag.
Walking higher up and entering the main courtyard of the castle we got to see the Scottish Royal jewels also known as “the Honours.” You are NOT allowed to take photos in there but we got to witness an amazing exhibit leading up to the jewels on how they came to be. They went missing periodically throughout the years including being buried, and stuck in a chest for over 100 years due to opposing forces wanting them destroyed. Walter Scott found the honors in the 1800’s, as well as some jewelry and a “wand” (yes. a wand. that’s literally what they call it) in a giant chest and they’ve left Edinburgh Castle only once since then.
There’s so much history it’s hard to write it all down. We went into a cathedral that is the oldest building in Edinburgh carved in the 12th century. We were in the room where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to her son. We went into the Great Hall where meetings are STILL held today for governing functions. We learned how to fire a musket (yes really)….
We even found out that we could get our family crest with our name engraved on the bottom. And for only 200 pounds! I know right? Steal… still. It was really cool knowing we even had a crest.
We also had some truly horrible whisky tastings. Seriously they were gross. Cream Liquor Whisky? Honey Whisky? …yeah. No. Side note: Over here whisky is spelled without an “E.” Tell your friends, save a life.
The castle is an absolute masterpiece and one everyone should check out if they ever find themselves in Edinburgh. It makes hundreds of years of history tangible and important. It makes you feel small and insignificant as well as big and a part of something greater. It’s also just really fantastic to know you’re hanging out in a castle where people lived. Seeing HUGE fireplaces that were the only things to heat a room. Seeing carvings in the wall that had been made hundreds of years ago. Walking on floors that millions had walked on prior… And then to walk out the drawbridge (Yes. Really) and be in the 21st century again with shops, and people, and cars. A humbling experience to be sure. And I’d be lying if I didn’t pretend to be a Disney princess at least for a second….ok 5 seconds….
Super fun day and one that definitely made us feel like we were beginning to enjoy the beauty Edinburgh had to offer.