Saturday, November 06, 2010

I have been to... Edinburgh Castle

Last week the Steve the Wargamer road train (the only way you could possibly describe the sheer magnitude of our family going on holiday!) headed in the direction of Scotland for a weeks stay with my dad in Edinburgh...

To be honest, the presence of Steve the Wargamer and the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer was neither here nor there, I have long accepted that we are at best "tolerated" as a necessary evil in allowing my Dad to spoil his grand-children rotten for a week; the benefit of this though is that Steve the Wargamer and the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer had some spare time to go and do some stuff on our own - invariably, being Edinburgh, this involved some retail experiences, but on the Friday I got away to have a good explore of Edinburgh Castle...

Surprisingly, despite having visited Edinburgh for years- this was my first trip, but my Dad was up for it so off we went...

Having paid the entry (not excessive in my view given the sheer amount of things to see and do), what was a huge surprise to me was the number of separate museums within the castle... the castle holds the Scottish War Museum, and also the regimental museums of both the Scots Dragoon Guards and the Royal Scots - all of which we visited, though I will admit that I took a bit longer than my Dad! The Scuba Site

The site is spectacular - no wonder they built the castle there in the first place - in fact the first archaeological and historical references show that the first castle was built around 600 AD though the fort didn't start to look like it does today until much later (late 1500's) ..

The National War Museum of Scotland (not surprisingly) focuses on the Scottish experience of war, both before and after the Union of 1707

..lots of really interesting stuff, especially on the '45 (Culloden and the Bonny Prince etc) but also on the Napoleonic and Crimean Wars - the museum holds the original painting of the Thin red Line which is stunning...

Of the two regimental museums both were good but the Royal Scots regimental museum scraped the "win" for me...

In the Scots Dragoon Guards museum I learn that the Scots Greys should be more properly known as the "Royal North British Dragoons" - political spin was prevalent even then!! The current regiment dates from 1678, but as is the way with British Regiments have been through endless amalgamations since they first formed - the timeline [click here] on the web page is brilliant - at least three regiments that went on to be amalgamated into the current regiment served in the Wars of the Spanish Succession.. they also have the French eagle and the regimental flag captured by Sergeant Charles Ewart at Waterloo..

Good stuff.. but I enjoyed the Royal Scots museum more - I think because the early history was covered much better. My interests lie in pre- SYW history, and to be honest both regimental museums focus on the Seven Years War (probably not surprising given that it could probably be classed as the first "world war") and this regiment had a good coverage of this period... like the Scots Dragoon Guards, the current Royal Scots are the product of many amalgamations, but at least one of the early regiments served in Tangiers.

The regiment dates its origins to 1633 - in regimental seniority they are the 1st of Foot - Charles I issued a warrant to Sir John Hepburn to raise a regiment of troops for French service. They were recalled in 1661 (that must have been a culture shock after 30 years!) and in 1680 they were sent to the aforementioned Tangiers where they won their first battle honour. They were designated Royal on their return (by Charles II) and went to serve at Sedgemoor and under Malborough during the War of the Spanish Succession... brilliant museum - much recommended...

..topped off with watching the one o'clock gun being fired, a visit to the The Scottish National War Memorial (very thought provoking and a magnificent memorial to the Scottish dead of many wars), a good look at Mons Meg (one of two siege guns given to James II of Scotland in 1457 - absolutely huge - weighs over 6,000kg, and fired 150kg stone cannonballs - it was cutting edge at the time but to the modern eye looks astonishingly cumbersome) and that was it...
..and the afternoon was nicely rounded off by a trip to the The Guildford Arms

..where they were running a Derbyshire Beer Festival.. sigh... you come all the way to Scotland and end up drinking English ales! Nah - they were brilliant... My dad and I tried three or four - the outstanding choice for me was the Thornbridge Brewery "Jaipur" a whopping great 5.9% but so chock full of hops you can feel it cleaning your teeth while still retaining a slight citrus flavour...very nice! The Scuba Site

Brilliant day out...


  1. I have only visited Edinburgh once-have to say it is a beautiful place. The view from the castle is amazing.


  2. I went to Edinburgh last year for the first time - didn't make it inside the castle but did get to the esplande outside where I (accidently) stood on Sergeant Ewarts grave. Next visit I will definately make the time to go inside!


  3. I have fond if vague memories of the Castle, visited near the start of my Youth Hostel version of the Grand Tour in the mid 70's. For some reason there was a path, a STEEP path out a back postern that had been used for some feat of daring do that has particularly caught my imagination.

    Also remember realizing that the only people in tartan in the pub were foreign tourists. Luckily we were in jeans.

    -Ross Mac

  4. thanks mate for that mate..enchanting the beer story..

  5. Nothing better than bonding with dad in a memorable day...

  6. Sounds like it was a grand day, sir.

    -- Jeff

  7. Excellent post - enjoyed it very much - thanks. I lived in Edinburgh most of my life - there is a local urban legend about an American tourist who was surprised that they built the castle so close to the railway. I guess that in many American cities the railway is the oldest thing there.



  8. Cheers guys... MSFoy - overheard in pub nearest to the castle (by me personally!) American lady asking the barmaid for a glass of "traditional Scottish wine"... it made me chuckle I'll admit - but if the Scots made it I bet it would be damn good!...