* yes, there should be FIVE sets of boots but Allen ignored my advice to get adequate rain gear...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Edinburgh Castle is perhaps the visual epitome of the Scottish motto "no one provokes me with impunity."  Look at that cliff face!  Can you imagine getting an invading force up that?  It's built on an extinct volcano which some say looks like the back of a sleeping dragon.  For all that, it's managed to switch back and forth between English and Scottish possession for the better part of the last 1000 years.  Prior to that, it had been a stronghold of assorted tribes and clans since at least the early Iron Age and perhaps since the late Bronze Age.  In short, it's likely that someone has wanted to be king of this mountain for the last 2500 years.  It's currently occupied by the British Army who actually do maintain some offices and residences.  St Margret's Chapel is also still in regular use.  In fact, it was closed for a Christening while we visited.  It's the oldest building in Edinburgh, built by King David in the 1100s.
Edinburgh Castle was especially important to visit as I have quite a bit of Bruce in my background.  While that hunk of the family has never done much in the way of genealogies, we like to assume that we simply must be worthy of the Bruce coat of arms.

We missed it as it was a Sunday but they fire the cannons most days at 1300 hours.  This acted as a communal timepiece much in the same way church bells might starting in 1861.  The original plan had been the time ball on the top of the Nelson Monument but the rather perpetual fog, mist, and generally poor visibility inhibit the efficacy of a visual time marker.  

The highlight for the children was seeing the Honours of the Kingdom.  The children were breathless with anticipation to see the "crown of gold."  We also saw the scepter, sword, and the Stone of Scone (fascinating article about the stone here, if not completely factual).  The Stone of Scone has been lugged about the Scottish and English countryside a bit.  The English insisted on it being put into their coronation ceremony around 1300 when they annexed Scotland and, so, if you look at the throne, there is a slot for the stone to be slipped under the cushion.  The stone finally made it's official way back to Scotland in 1996 with the understanding that it would be returned for future crownings.

J. K. Rowling wrote most of the Harry Potter books in and around Edinburgh.  The release of the 6th book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (where Ginny and Harry FINALLY get together, hem, hem) took place at Edinburgh Castle.  I can't think of a better location.  There is no doubt as to how you could be inspired to create Hogwarts, Diagon Alley and all the rest.
I would have really liked to have visited Edinburgh longer but our budget didn't stretch to multiple nights at the Astoria.  It has a wealth of museums as well as all manner of interesting architecture and nooks and crannies to explore.

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