Exploring Stirling Castle

As I started working on this post I realised I’d overload you with information if I tried to include everything in the one post, so this will be an overview and then I’ll do a separate post for the Royal Palace within the Castle (I have shared some photos but have more 😁)

Image by DerWeg from Pixabay

Stirling is in the Central Belt of Scotland and is at the gateway between the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland. Additionally, rather than Edinburgh, Stirling and its castle was preferred by the Scottish kings, so has always been considered as the seat of the Scottish Monarchy rather than Edinburgh.

Stirling Castle is built on Castle Rock which was originally formed from lava from a volcano which erupted 350 million years ago. The castle itself was probably built in the 11th Century but it is possible that there was a fort on the site 3,000 years ago – prior to the arrival of the Romans in the UK.

The Wars of Independence

Many people have heard of the film Braveheart and William Wallace. Stirling Castle is at the heart of this story with Wallace fighting the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. The bridge can be seen from the castle, as can the Wallace Monument.

The Wallace Monument in the mist in September 2022

As well as William Wallace, Stirling is also famous for King Robert I, or as we call him, Robert the Bruce, who defeated the English at Bannockburn in 1314. There is a statue of Robert the Bruce outside of Stirling Castle, and in another photograph it is possible to see the Wallace Monument and Stirling Bridge.

Myth and Magic

Scotland and Unicorns

The Queen Anne Garden with Unicorn Tent

We visited the castle on the National Unicorn Day, which was being celebrated at the castle, so it was busy with everyone having fun and we were able to see some little visiting unicorns. As the symbol of Scotland and integrated into the Scottish Royal Standard, there are unicorns to be seen everywhere, even on the roof of the Great Hall.

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

An English writer from the 15th Century (William of Worcester) identified Stirling Castle as the home of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. I know its unlikely to be real, but if I can believe in Unicorns and the Loch Ness Monster, I’m taking this legend too.

Robert the Bruce and the spider

When Robert the Bruce was fighting the English, but losing, the story goes that he was inspired after watching a spider spinning a web. I’m sure, like many other Scots, as children we’re told this story of the spider, and the idea of never giving up has stuck with me. Bernard Barton’s poem tells us the story of Bruce and the Spider.

The Castle

So what about the castle itself I hear you asking – ok, here you go:

The Forework and the Outer Close

The Palace

The Palace viewed from the Outer Close

The Palace is one of the newer buildings within the Castle, being commissioned by James V, but regrettably he died before his new palace was completed and while most of the apartments are well furnished for visitors to view, his bedroom remains unfurnished to reflect the fact that he never occupied it.

The Stirling Unicorn Tapestries are housed within the Palace along with some other interesting features. The Tapestries can be seen in my Unicorns post shared above.

The Stirling Heads are reproductions; the originals are held at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. There is also an Exhibition in the Palace providing information about the Heads

The Great Kitchens

Historic Scotland invested a lot of time renovating the kitchens and they now have exhibits to demonstrate what it would like working in the medieval kitchens. There is also a short video providing some information about food supply and preparation at the time. You are able to wander through the kitchens looking at the exhibits, but I’d suggest a visit to the Cafe if you’re feeling peckish.

The Great Hall

The food from the Great Kitchen needs to go somewhere. In this case it would be delivered to the Great Hall. The Hall was built by James IV and is the largest ever built in Scotland. It was completed in 1503. Personally I’ve attended Gala Dinners here but on our visit it was more focused on providing gala shows and competitions for the unicorn hunters.

The Chapel Royal

The Chapel was built in 1594 for the baptism of the first son of James VI (of Scotland)

By Bill Harrison, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14229304

The King’s Old Building

This building dates back to the 15th Century and are the work of James IV. We didn’t get a chance to visit (we ran out of time). This building now houses the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, so another building for a return visit.

Castle Cafe – The Unicorn Cafe

The Unicorn Cafe tucked away in a corner

A very nice lunch to be had in the cafe. With my membership of Historic Scotland I also received a discount off our food which was delicious. We opted for their Club Sandwich which came with 2 sides. It kept us going until dinner back in Stirling.

The View

It was lovely to spend the day at Stirling Castle. There is so much to see; but the views from the top of Castle Rock and Stirling Castle are also worth checking out. If you’re visiting, I’d suggest a clear day so you can see in the distance.

Return visit required

As I’ve indicated above, I had a great time, but the day just wasn’t long enough to do everything we wanted without rushing and we were enjoying ourselves too much to do that, so a return visit will be made. I imagine there are many hidden treasures that I can explore when I return.

Information contained in this post is drawn from the Historic Scotland (2018) Official Souvenir Guide for Stirling Castle


  1. We enjoy reading your blog! Your distinctive perspective and genuine voice are game-changers in the world. Keep writing, because your ideas matter. Thank you for being you!

    Thanks – TheDogGod

  2. Wow wow wow – I loved all the pictures, especially the one of the Wallace Monument in the mist. But all the history – that is amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing your tour and this beautiful castle and history with us! Love it!

  3. Great photos! Thanks for this excellent information. I love ancient places and their history. The Queen’s chamber is quite opulent.
    I enjoyed the views from above Castle Rock…spectacular.
    The weather looked beautiful!

  4. What a privilege to have these historical places so close by rather than hours long airplane flights for all of us in America. So amazing Brenda, thank you!

  5. I am enchanted by this place, Brenda. The buildings are spectacular and hold such interesting history, and the surrounding countryside is just breathtaking. I don’t know a lot about the history of Scotland, but I would love to visit Stirling Castle and learn more!

    • I could have put so much more into the post, but I didn’t want to bore people, but I think there is scope to write much more … and plenty of other sites to visit

  6. Amazing photos Brenda. Too bad you ran out of time to visit the King’s Old Building. It looks so interesting. As does the rest of it. And wow, what a spectacular view. Thanks for sharing. 🌸

    • Thanks Alegria. It’s less than an hour by train, so I should be able to return. There’s still so much to see in and around Stirling

  7. I was lucky to get to visit Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument in 2009. The town was lovely, and the views were amazing! You’ve captured it well in the photos!

  8. I read this late last night. Thought, if you had notifications on ‘noise bing’ it would be intrusive. 😊 So replying now. These informative posts must have a lot of your readers wanting to see your ‘places of interest visits’ first hand. Bet the tourist companies and businesses in the locations themselves are very happy. You can always handle both word descriptions and visual imagery very skilfully. Draws you in. All the best.

    • Thank you. All that fresh bread would have been lovely, but I think you’re right. Acourt of 600 would have been a lot of hungry mouths to feed. It must have been like a production line constantly cooking

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