Location: Edinburg, Lothian Region
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Edinburg Castle has played a central role in the history of Scotland. Its site, on a rock rising 300 feet above the city, has been fought over more than 2,000 years. Edinburgh's have been repeatedly battered, razed and restores. Most of the present castle dates from the sixteenth century and after. In 1566 Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to the future James I (VI of Scotland) within the castle.
Edinburgh is probably the most famous of all Scottish castles. The most prominent in a city of conspicuous buildings, its history is largely bound up with the story of Scotland.
There is evidence of the occupation of this site since the sixth century. and there was certainly a castle of some form here in the eleventh century. Its periods of construction span many centuries, beginning at least from the eleventh when Malcolm III erected a wooden fortress upon the huge rock mass that towers some 82.3 meters (270 ft) above the valley that is now occupied by Waverley Station and Princes Street Gardens. The castle has been a palace, a treasury, the home of Scotland's records, a refuge for several Scottish kings during their minority years, and a prison.
The top of the rock is girt with a wall erected in several stages, and inside that is the citadel which contains several buildings. The castle that can be seen today, however, bears small resemblance to the medieval castle, and only a few buildings that date from earlier than the seventeenth century remain. Notable among these is the small chapel of St Margaret on the highest part of the castle. This is a fine Norman building of the early twelfth century, and is named after the wife of Malcolm III, Queen Margaret, who was canonized. It has been considerably altered and repaired over the centuries, but still retains some original features.
Another early structure of which there are remnants is a tower that was Lshaped and which rose to about 18.3 meters (60 ft). It had a drawbridge. This is known as David's Tower, named after David II (1329?71) who built it probably between 1368 and 1371.
Today, the ruins that include a vaulted chamber are submerged in the great Half Moon Battery (or Great Half Bastion Round). This was built in the late sixteenth century by the Regent Morton, and later heightened. David's Tower had been largely destroyed in a siege of 1583. Edinburgh Castle was besieged many times in the Middle Ages: for example, it was attacked and taken by Edward I of England in 1296, and recaptured by Robert Bruce's valiant nephew Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, in 1313. Moray destroyed the castle, but not the St Margaret Chapel.
Two rooms are of special interest. One is the chamber in which Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI and the second room contains the Scotish Regalia, those highly prized symbols of independent nationhood.
Edinburgh is a motley collection of buildings which crowns the Castle Rock, and forms a tangible panorama of the history of the fortress over eight centuries.