Stirling castle dates back to at least the 12th century and is said to be one of the biggest and most important castles in Scotland with a few notable kings and queens (including Mary Queen of Scots) residing there over the years. It was high on our list to visit and I’m not sure we realised just how interesting it would all be. Stirling itself is so beautiful. If you love the old town in Edinburgh, then you’ll love Stirling. It feels like a huge extension of it and you could wander the streets and admire the views for a long time. We found that we got the very best of it when we climbed to the top of the Wallace monument but Stirling castle does give its own views.
During our trip to Bonnie Scotland I’ve found that Scotland has over two thousand castles, some located within very close proximity to each other. The basic explanation for this is that there were a heck of a lot of bloody wars, dating back centuries and a heck of a lot of fighting over power and land from the English, each other, and other powers like the Vikings. The end result is the beautiful ruins and castles that you see today. I wonder if there’s some kind of huge castle road trip tour you can do. I’m guessing you would need a good year or so to get round them all, as well as a massive passion for all things castles, royal families and bloody battles through the centuries.
Back to Stirling castle, I think it’s now my second favourite castle behind Windsor. Having dragged the boys about to a few different places by this point, they were starting to get a bit weary of old buildings but, as luck would have it, Stirling castle has a lot of spacious grounds to run about in and has lots of informative and entertaining little spots to keep even little minds occupied. The vaults in the dungeons have been turned into little play areas with different activities in each one. It gets a bit busy as some of the rooms aren’t that big but it’s a bearable kind of busy and fun for even big kids. We spent a fair bit of time down in the basements learning about how they all used to live back then. James V did a substantial amount of work to the castle and you’ll find a lot of statuettes and murials around the grounds are heavily influenced by the Renaissance period. Some are a bit risqué but shows how bold a design it was at the time. One of the videos mentioned how there would have been a lot of colour on the statues so you need to spend a bit of time visualising it all. If you like history then you’ll love the little break out areas with the videos explaining the journey of some of the artwork. It’s a good place to sit and rest your feet (and maybe even make the kids sit for 30 seconds or more!). This is another place where we were going to spend “just an hour or so” and ended up staying the whole afternoon. It’s really worth it for the huge history lesson and to learn just how significant a part the castle played in Scottish history. If you do plan to go then here are my “things you should know”:
1) You get a discount if you book tours Edinburgh and Stirling castle. It’s worth doing if you haven’t seen them. Always keep your receipt as you can still take advantage of the offer if you forget to book a multiple entry pass.
2) Do the Wallace monument and Stirling castle on the same day. There are literally a few miles from each other. Don’t do what we did and do them on two separate days, not realising! Then eventually look a bit open mouthed as you pass the other one by.
3) Stirling castle is very buggy friendly. There are ramps and lifts everywhere bar a couple of places where it would have been physically impossible to install them. There are cobbled floors everywhere too and your baby will love it (or at least, mine did!).
Oh, and here are some of our photos from our time there.