7 Facts About Edinburgh Castle

Historic Castle in Edinburgh Scotland

Edinburgh boasts one of the world’s most famous castles, towering over the city.  Built on 350-million year old volcanic rock, Edinburgh Castle easily rivals any castle from Game of Thrones with its amazing history and stunning views.  With true stories of pirates, crowns, witches and espionage, this is a place you need to visit while in Edinburgh.

We’d like to arm you with seven fascinating facts about Edinburgh Castle before you storm the battlements and explore Scotland’s most popular visitor attraction yourself.

Still standing

St Margarets Chapel historic site to visit in Edinburgh Scotland

St Margaret’s Chapel is one of the oldest buildings in Scotland, dating back to around 1130.  The chapel was built by David I in memory of his mother, Queen Margaret, who was married to King Malcolm III of Scotland.  When Robert the Bruce captured the Castle in 1314 the Chapel is the only building he spared from destruction.

The Laird’s Lug

The Great Hall held many a banquet and state visit when it was completed in 1511 for King James IV.  There was an added piece of ‘technology’ added to the Hall when it was built. The ‘Laird’s Lug’ or ‘Lord’s Ear’ is a small barred window built into the wall through which James IV could spy and eavesdrop on his guests.  When former President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, was due to visit for a meeting there in 1984, the Russian Secret Service demanded the spyhole was blocked up prior to the visit (the meeting was cancelled last minute).

Crown Jewels of Scotland

On show in the Castle to this day, the Crown Jewels are made up of a bejewelled crown, sword and sceptre and were used when crowning Scottish, English and British monarchs over the years.  They were first used at the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots (still a child at the time) in 1543.  When the United Kingdom was formed in 1707, they were no longer required so they were locked in a chest and forgotten about for over 100 years until Sir Walter Scott’s search of the Castle uncovered them once again.

Prisoners of war

During the 1700s and 1800s the vaults below the Great Hall held prisoners of war from as far away as America, Spain, Poland and Italy. Look out for one of the earliest depictions of the stars and stripes flag scratched into the old wooden prison door by an American prisoner.  Caribbean pirates were held in the vaults in 1720 before being hanged in Leith.  Some of the hanged were deemed to be ‘Pirate Lords’ who served with the likes of the infamous Blackbeard in the Bahamas.

The Witches’ Well

This small water fountain, known as The Witches’ Well, on the edge of the Castle Esplanade (on the north wall of the Tartan Weaving Mill) marks the spot where hundreds of women were burned at the stake for being suspected of being witches between the 15th and 18th centuries.  King James IV ruled over the first trials in the late 1500s and was paranoid about the dark arts, however many of the accused were simply at the wrong end of someone’s ill will.

Right on time

One O'clock Gun historic visitor attraction in Edinburgh Scotland

Every day since 1861 (apart from Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day) the firing of the huge ‘One O’clock Gun’ takes place at 1pm on the Mills Mount Battery.  The sound of the gun can be heard from Princes Street and the surrounding area.  The original gun was much larger and could be heard over a much further distance, so much so that ships on the Firth of Forth would set their maritime clocks by the sound of the gun.

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo visitor attraction in Edinburgh Scotland

One of the most famous events that takes place at the Castle is the annual Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. It has taken place every August since 1950 coinciding with the Edinburgh International Festival.  The show consists of British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and international military bands and artistic performance teams on the Castle esplanade.  With yearly attendance of over 200,000 and global TV viewing figures of over 100 million, this is an incredibly popular show, highly recommended if you are visiting the Edinburgh International Festival.

Put your feet up

After a day of exploring one of the most famous sites in Scotland’s capital, you will want somewhere to relax and unwind for the evening.

Within walking distance of Edinburgh Castle (and the Royal Mile) lies our stylish, comfortable and recently-refurbished KM Central hotel.  The central location of this hotel means that you are in a location to explore everything else that Edinburgh has to offer.  With great bus links across the city, including directly to the Edinburgh Airport, and a ten-minute walk from Waverly Station this is a great place to stay no matter what else you have planned for your visit.

Next door to KM Central is Richmond Place Apartments offering studio and one-bed apartments.  Perfect for longer stays, they offer more space, freedom and flexibility than a hotel.

Or, if you would prefer somewhere more peaceful, Salisbury Green Hotel and Bistro might be for you.  Located in peaceful landscaped grounds adjoining Holyrood Park (in the shadows of Arthur’s Seat) but still within easy walking distance of the Old Town and the City’s other major attractions.  You can choose between the recently refurbished rooms of Masson House or the more traditional 18th Century Mansion House next door.

To book a room with us click here.

For more information on Edinburgh Castle and to book tickets click here.