The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle and Nor'Loch, around 1780 by
Edinburgh Castle and Nor'Loch, around 1780 by Alexander Nasmyth

Edinburgh Castle, an ancient stronghold on the Castle Rock in the centre of the city of Edinburgh, has been in use by assorted military forces since prehistoric times and only transferred from the Ministry of Defence recently. It lies at the top of the Royal Mile, the principal street of the Old Town which leads down to Holyrood Palace. The castle is open to visitors, and is managed by Historic Scotland. It is Scotland's leading paid tourist attraction.

The castle is situated atop The Castle Rock, a volcanic crag. Three sides are protected by sheer cliffs and access to the castle was limited to a steep road on the fourth (eastern) side. Historically there was a loch on the north side of the castle, called the Nor'Loch. The loch was drained in the Georgian era when the New Town was constructed, as by this point the castle had lost much of its defensive role and the loch was used as an open sewer. The loch is visible in the painting to the right.

The castle is entered via the Esplanade, which is a long sloping cobbled area between the castle proper and the top of the Royal Mile. The Esplanade is where the annual Edinburgh Military Tattoo is held, and in previous times was a parade and drill area for the castle garrison. On the painting to the right the Esplanade would be at the left of the picture, but has not yet been constructed. From the esplanade the main feature of the castle visible is the cylindrical or drum shaped battery, called the Half Moon Battery, which is visible on the left of the painting. It was built in 1574.

The castle proper is entered via a gatehouse in front of this battery, that leads to a road that ascends while following around to the right of the battery. This road leads through an older gatehouse and up to the courtyard in the centre of the castle.


Within the castle are several significant exhibits and museums. These include:

  • The Honours of Scotland, which are the Scottish Crown Jewels.
  • The Stone of Destiny
  • The Scottish National War Memorial
  • Mons Meg, an enormous 15th century bombard.
  • The One O'Clock Gun, which fires every day at 1pm, and makes all the tourists on Princes Street jump.
  • St. Margarets Chapel, the oldest identifiable building in the castle, and probably the oldest building in Edinburgh
  • Prisoners of War exhibition

The lower picture shows part of the Royal Apartments within the inner courtyard which now contains a museum of the Kings of Scotland and the Scottish Crown Jewels, but was previously a set of suites for royal and other important visitors.

See also

External links

Last updated: 10-11-2005 03:03:40
Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46