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Scotland's most important fortress

Stirling Castle stands 75 metres above the surrounding lowland, on top of a volcano. Thankfully it's extinct - there hasn't been an eruption here for thousands of years. Even so, the structure's history has been as hot and dangerous as its molten lava once was.
The castle guards the lowest crossing of the River Firth, making it an important strategic location. The current building dates back to the 16th century, but fortifications have existed here for many centuries before that. Throughout this long past, it has played its part in dozens of dramatic tales. In fact, this is one of the most significant locations in Scottish history. This is where battles have been fought and murders have been committed. Monarchs have both lived and died here. The stories are long and endless, but some of them have stuck particularly firmly in the country's memory.
One such tale is of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was raised at Stirling. She was crowned in the castle's chapel when she was only nine months old. Most little girls would be happy to become a Queen, but naturally at this tender age, Mary cried through the entire event!
Just as the castle has seen life, it has also seen death. In 1452, King James II argued with the Earl of Douglas. To say the disagreement ended badly is probably an understatement. The poor aristocrat was stabbed 26 times and shoved out of a window. His body fell, bleeding and broken, into a patch of grass. The very same spot has since been turned into the Douglas Garden, named in his memory.
Events like these aren't quickly forgotten, but they're nothing in comparison to the epic battles which have taken place here. Most were between the Scottish and the English, who were forever at each other's throats. One particularly violent conflict was the First War of Scottish Independence, at the turn of the 14th century. Famous warriors like William Wallace and Robert the Bruce fought furiously for their country, often in full view of the castle walls. It's appropriate that the film of Wallace's life, Braveheart, had its premire here.
Today, much of the fortress is still intact. You can stand on its battlements, and gaze out over the land it once guarded. Elsewhere, you'll find a Royal chapel and a 16th century kitchen. There is live tapestry on display and more on Stirling's history is presented at the permanent exhibitions.
The most impressive room is certainly the Great Hall, which has been carefully restored to its former medieval self. It was reopened on St. Andrews Day in 1999, by Her Majesty The Queen. The Hall has seen some spectacular celebrations in its time. One of the best was in 1594, when fish was served from the deck of a full-size ship! It's a mystery how they got that indoors.
Stirling Castle it has emerged from an exciting past of enthralling and surprising stories to be an enduring symbol of Scottish pride.
Visitor Information
Stirling Castle is open daily from 9:30 to 6pm (5pm in Winter). Entry costs around £9 for adults, £5.50 children. Castle Wynd, Stirling, FK8 1EJ. Tel: 01786 450 000

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