Edinburgh Castle is one of the most historic sites in Scotland. Visitors can step into history and awe over the jewels, the fine decorations, and the castle itself which is beautiful in its enormity alone. Edinburgh Castle, located in Edinburgh Scotland, has been occupied since the late Bronze Age (usually considered from 3200 - 1200 BC).
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The buildings related to the current castle date back from the 12th to the 21st century and it has been the site of many different battles and wars over the years.
Permanent Attractions and Exhibits
Crown Jewels - Scotland’s Crown Jewels (also known as the “Honours” of Scotland) are on display to the public in the Crown Room. The exhibit surrounding the jewels goes into historic detail about each piece, where it came from, and who (if anyone) it was gifted by.
Stone of Destiny - This artifact is considering one of the most powerful symbol of Scotland’s monarchy and has played witness to the crowning of kings for many hundreds of years. It is displayed with the Crown Jewels after being returned to its rightful home in Scotland (it was stolen in 1950 and not returned until 1996), although it does travel to Westminster Abbey for coronations.
Mons Meg - Sitting outside of Saint Margaret’s Chapel is the Mons Meg, a cannon made in 1460 that was able to blast a 150 kg gunstone for up to 3 kilometers (or 2 miles). The cannon was retired in 1550 and has been at Edinburgh since 1829.
National War Museum - The war museum offers a large and diverse collection of war related materials including letters written home by soldiers, broadswords, paintings, and chem suits. The museum is housed in an old military storehouse for ordinance from the 1700s. It was also previously used as a military hospital, and opened to the public as a war museum in 1933.
Prisons of War - Although it can be uncomfortable to view, the prisons of war exhibit offer guests a look at the prisoners of war that were held on the premises. They came from across the world, including Denmark, Ireland, and Poland. There was even a five-year-old boy held prisoner at one point, as he was the “drummer boy” captured in 1805 at Trafalgar.
Queen’s Embroideries - Replicas of Mary (Queen of Scots) embroideries during the period she was exiled to England are on display in the antechamber during the tour of the Royal Apartments. They are a perfect replication of the embroidery that she did while on house arrest, working side by side with her unlikely friend, Bess of Hardwick (the wife of the person who was jailing her) in 1585.
Royal Palace - While at Edinburgh, make sure to tour the Royal Palace and see how royalty lived. It has seen a huge amount of history happen and is awe inspiring to stand in.
Edinburgh Castle offers free visits for school groups and field trips as part of their outreach to help everyone understand the history of Scotland better, starting as early as possible. View the castle’s website to see the wide variety of educational opportunities available to students, arranged by age and grade level. Field trips are available and recommended for students age 3 through 18. Although the visit is free, the activities do require a fee. Contact the castle ahead of time for specific price and availability information. There is also a cancellation fee charged if a field trip is cancelled with less than 10 days notice. Teachers are also encouraged to contact them ahead of time if cost could be an issue are there are a few travel subsidies available for application. Teachers are welcome to visit ahead of time to help plan their visits, and can and should contact the learning team at the castle to help coordinate lesson plans.
Shopping and Dining
Edinburgh offers a small gift shop with a variety of products meant for guests to commemorate their visit to the castle. There are stuffed animals with the Edinburgh logo, different whiskies to sip, and gorgeous jewelry to wear. There are also two places for visitors to eat if they get hungry while visiting the castle. The Tea Room offers guests a chance to take afternoon tea (or coffee) with a small selection of scones, sandwiches, and cakes. There is also Redcoat Cafe, which offers a slightly heartier menu of soups and sandwiches.
Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NG, Phone: +44-0-13-12-25-98-46