Stirling Castle in Scotland, detailed information

Stirling Castle – the pearl of Scotland

Stirling Castle is one of the most famous and beautiful surviving castles of Scotland. It stands on the top of an extinct volcano and since ancient times was a strategic military point of the kingdom and a favorite residence of royalty.

History of Stirling Castle

The castle has a very long and rich history. The first fortifications emerged as early as the 7th century, or maybe even earlier. But it is famous for the events of XIII century, when Stirling Castle became the epicenter of struggle for independence of Scotland. Everyone must have seen the film “Braveheart” starring Mel Gibson, where he played the Scottish national hero William Wallace. This film recounts the events of those years.

Stirling-Castle

A beautiful castle on a hill, a gem of Scottish architecture.

In those days it was believed that whoever owned Stirling Castle, owned Scotland. The fortress was conquered by English troops in 1296 and Scotland was proclaimed an English possession. But almost immediately a rebellion broke out and in a series of bloody battles the Scots were able to defend their homeland and regain their independence. Of course it took a long time – Stirling Castle changed hands 8 times from 1296 to 1342 until Scotland won.

Stirling Castle has been rebuilt many times, which is why there are so many different styles in its decoration. Most of the structures are from the 15th and 16th centuries, but there are some that date back to the 14th century – the North Gate.

Stirling Castle opening hours

April 1st to September 30th October 1 to March 31
All week 9.30 – 18.00 9.30 – 17.00
Last Entry 45 minutes before closing 45 minutes before closing

The castle is closed to the premises on December 25-26. On January 1, the castle is open, but from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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What to see at Stirling Castle?

All the interiors of the castle have been preserved and restored. Inside, costumed actors await you, eagerly answering questions about the old days and talking about life in the castle.

Map of the castle grounds

Castle grounds map

James V’s Palace is a Renaissance exhibition of royal life in the 1500s. This palace is one of the best preserved Renaissance buildings in Britain. A tour of James V’s Royal Residence takes about an hour.

James IV’s Great Hall is the largest medieval banqueting hall in Scotland. It was used for feasting, celebrations and dancing.

James VI’s Chapel Royal was built especially for Prince Henry’s baptism and restored for Charles I’s coronation in 1633.

The Great Kitchens – Here you can immerse yourself in the medieval era and learn how James VI’s lavish banquets were created.

The views from the battlements – a tour of two of the great battles – Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn.

It’s worth a walk along the battlements and the Queen Annie Gardens. You can also visit the Tapestry Workshop, where tapestries are recreated according to ancient techniques and drawings, and the regimental museum of the castle. You can see the location of all the interesting places on the map.

If you know English, I suggest you read this booklet. It tells you a lot about Stirling Castle and offers several tours of the grounds.

Also in the castle you can take an audio guide in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Japanese. It costs £3.

Cost of visit

On Site Online Audioguide
Adult £16.00 £15.00 £3.00
Students, Pensioners (60 years and over) £12.80 £12.00 £2.00
Children £9.60 £9.00 £1.00

Tickets can be purchased directly at the entrance to the castle, or you can buy in advance on the official website – http://www.stirlingcastle.gov.uk/. If you are in Scotland for a few days, I suggest you buy an Explorer pass. It gives you free access to many of the attractions included in Historic Scotland, including Stirling Castle.

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There are also some companies that organize day tours of Scotland. For example, there is a One-Day Tour to Loch Lomond and Stirling Castle here or here . Note: accompanied by an English guide.

How to get to Stirling Castle?

Stirling Castle is 60km from Edinburgh, so the best way to get there is by car. However, if that is not possible, there are buses, trains, and some companies offer tours to the castle with a drive-through.

The castle has a parking lot where you can leave your car for 4 hours. It costs £4 (for Historic Scotland members £2).

If you don’t have a car, you can get to Stirling by bus or train.

Trains leave every half hour from Edinburgh to Stirling from Waverley Station – see the train timetable on the National Roads website. Here you can also buy tickets. The journey time is about 50 minutes.

Scottish Sitylink buses from Edinburgh Bus Stn to Stirling Goosecroft Bus Stn depart every hour. You can check the schedule and buy a ticket on their website .

Stirling Castle Facts of Interest

  • The North Gate is the oldest building in Stirling. They were built in 1381, during the reign of Robert II. They are traditionally called the “mint,” though it is not known if they were used in minting coins.

stirling_castle

In front of the castle is a statue of King of Scotland Robert the Bruce, who defeated the English in 1314.

Stirling Castle: one of Scotland’s great castles.

Sterling Castle is one of Scotland’s greatest castles. It sits atop an extinct volcano and is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, reinforcing its defensive position. The castle was a strategic military key of the kingdom during the War of Independence in the 13th and 14th centuries. It was also a favorite royal residence of the Stuart dynasty.

Many Scottish kings and queens were crowned at Stirling, including the infamous Mary Stuart, who was crowned in 1543 while still an infant.

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Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

Photo: maxpixel (CC0 Public Domain)

The castle has withstood at least eight sieges. Several attempts were made to seize it during the Scottish War of Independence. The last siege was undertaken in 1746 when the British unsuccessfully tried to capture the castle.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

Most of the main buildings of the castle date from the XV and XVI centuries. There are some buildings that were erected in the XIV century. And the external defenses belong to the beginning of the XVIII century.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

Sterling Castle is an ancient monument. This tourist attraction, which tells the history of Scotland, towers over the sites of past battles for independence. These include Stirling Bridge, the site of William Wallace’s victory over the English in 1297, and Bannockburn, where Robert the Bruce defeated the English in the summer of 1314.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

In honor of William Wallace on Abbey Craig Hill there is a 67 m high tetrahedral tower. The Wallace Monument is only a mile and a half from Sterling Castle.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

The castle consists of several separate parts. The outer defenses include the artillery fortifications, most of which were built in the eighteenth century, but some parts dating back to the 1550s have also survived. The buildings located in the square of the Guard date back to the nineteenth century. Outside the castle is an esplanade of the early 19th century, used as a parade ground. It is now an ordinary parking lot.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

The paths on the outer defensive line offer magnificent views of the surrounding countryside. On a clear day you can see the Trossachs Mountains, the Wallace Monument and the southeast Forth Road Bridge near Edinburgh.

Stirling Castle

Photo: Kamyq / pixabay (Pixabay License)

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

The gallery, which provides a passage from the outer defensive line to the castle itself, was built by King James IV in the early 1550s. In the center is the gatehouse, which is now the official entrance to the castle. In the courtyard are military buildings such as the 18th-century Home of the Chief Guard and the early 19th-century Fort Major’s House.

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Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

Near the early northern gate were the castle kitchens, which were probably connected to the Great Hall. Opposite the east wall of the castle, the Great Kitchen was later built and can be seen.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

The oldest part of the courtyard is the old King’s Building, which was completed around 1500. Construction of the new residential building was begun by King James IV.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

The main rooms were on the first floor. The two halls overlooked the west. In 1501 James IV built the royal chapel where Mary Stuart was crowned in 1543. On the east side of the courtyard is the Great Hall or Hall of Parliament. It was built by James IV after the completion of the Old King’s Building in 1497. It is the largest hall in Scotland.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

And on the south side of the inner courtyard is the Royal Palace. It took a decade of research and craftsmanship to recreate its splendor. It was opened to the public in June 2011.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

Sterling Castle remains the headquarters of the Dukes of Argyll and the Sutherland Highlanders, but the garrison is no longer there.

Stirling Castle

There are some very interesting facts associated with Sterling Castle.

– In 1507 an attempt was made to fly here.

At the court of James IV there lived an Italian alchemist called John Damian, who believed that he could use his wings to leap from the battlements and fly a distance. The flight ended in embarrassment: John landed in a dung heap and broke his rib.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

– The world’s oldest soccer found in a castle

Mary Stewart loved sports. She even recorded the game of soccer in her diary. And the oldest surviving soccer ball made from a pig’s bladder was found behind the panels of her chambers.

Stirling Castle

Photo: DerWeg / pixabay (Pixabay License)

– The castle may have been home to a lion.

The symbol of the kings of Scotland is a lion. It is believed that the king kept the formidable predator at home. Inside the castle there is a rectangular courtyard known as the Lion’s Yard. Apparently this was where James IV’s pet lived.

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