Scotland: In the Footsteps of Royalty – Stirling Castle

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While on a trip to Scotland, my husband Lyn and I visited Edinburgh, Scotland. We had hoped to spend more time, but our itinerary included Stirling Castle, Edinburgh the “jewel of Scotland” and the Scottish Highlands in one day!

We awoke early to make the trip to Stirling Castle. We arrived even before stores were open in town. We found a restaurant featuring “American breakfast”. Given that it was rainy, we lingered as long as we could. The roads leading up to the castle were narrow and one way (previously for horse-drawn carriages). Stirling Castles was built on a high point allowing it to command lands all around it. Stirling was the center of art, culture and celebrity in the 1600s.

Stirling Castle brings history to life. While there, you become acquainted with the people who lived and were imprisoned there. Guides share about the plots, passion, intrigue and high fashion of the inhabitants. Historical reenactors brought people and history to life.

After parking, we came towards the Forework gate. Once inside, a large cobblestone courtyard unfolded with gardens on the left and another gate higher up the hill. The entire castle was built on a hill – it seemed we were going up hill the entire time. The great hall featured soaring ceilings. It was the largest banquest hall in Scotland. The palace unfolded with receiving rooms, bedrooms and private areas for royalty. Mary Queen of Scots lived at Stirling for much of her life.

When we came inside the Chapel Royale, we were treated to a beautiful children’s chorus:


After the Chapel Royale, we visited the Scottish Clan museum. It was so intersting to see the tartans, the beautiful dining rooms for celebrations and the history of those who protected the royalty. We found the tartans and history for the “Baxters”, “Aiken” and others we recognized. I didn’t find “Ballantine”, my ancestors, but I was given a poem about the tartan of the Ballantine’s:

The Grey Hill Plaid
by James Ballantine
ballantine plaid
Tho’ cauld and drear our muirland hame
Amang the wreaths o’ snaw,
Yet love here lowes wi’ purer flame
Than lights the lordly ha’;
For ilka shepherd’s chequer’d plaid
Has room enough for twa,
And coshly shields his mountain maid
Frae a’ the blasts that blaw.
Then hey the plaid! the grey hill plaid,
That haps the heart sae true;
Dear, dear to every mountain maid,
Are plaid an’ bonnet blue.

What tho’ we’re few upon the muir,
We lo’e each other mair,
And to the weary wanderin’ puir
We’ve comfort aye to spare.

The heart that feels for ither’s woes
Can ne’er keep love awa’;
And twa young hearts, when beating close,
Can never lang be twa.
Then hey the plaid! the grey hill plaid,
That haps the heart sae true;
Dear, dear to every mountain maid,
Are plaid an’ bonnet blue.

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