I came across some interesting information about Edinburgh Castle whilst looking, unsuccessully, for Scottish legends linked to Christmas.
The Castle was occupied by an English garrison during the wars of Independence. But in 1313, the Scots, commanded by Thomas Randolph, surprised the English by climbing the rock, and they were thus able to recapture the Castle.
'The Black Dinner' took place in Edinburgh Castle in 1440. Lured there by Sir William Crichton who considered the Douglas family too powerful, William, the 16 year old sixth Earl of Douglas, and his brother David, were murdered in the Castle-yard before the young King. This after being served the final course of a great feast. It was a black bull's head, considered an ill omen.
Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James the VI in Edinburgh Castle (1566). The Castle was exposed to strifes of the Covenant, of Cromwell's invasion and of the Jacobite rebellions.
The 'Stone of Scone', also known as the 'Stone of Destiny' (as well as Jacob's pillow Stone, and the Tanish Stone) was, and perhaps still is, considered sacred.
A historian of the the 14th century, Walter Hemingford, affirmed that it was the Scottish coronation stone of the monastery of Scone not far from Perth. 'In the monastery of Scone, in the Church of God, near to the high altar, is kept a large stone, hollowed out as a round chair, on which their kings were placed for their ordination, according to custom'.
There are other legends regarding the origin of the Stone, even linking it to Biblical times (taken by Jacob when he was in Haran, hence 'Jacob's Stone').
Another story is that the first King of Scotland, Fergus, son of Ferchard, is recorded to have brought the Stone from Ireland to Argyll.
The Stone itself is of old red sandstone. It measures 66 cm x 42.5 cm, weighs about 152 kg and has traces of chisel work where the stone has been shaped. Iron rings are attached to each side of the stone obviously to facilitate its lifting and transporting.
King Edward 1, apparently informed of the sacred reputation of the Stone, ordered that it be taken to Westminster abbey in 1296, and from then onwards it was used for the coronation of the English monarchy in what was known as 'King Edward's Chair'.
The famous Stone however, was returned in 1996 by Queen Elizabeth II, and is now installed in Edinburgh Castle.
Under the Castle, there is supposed to be a tunnel a mile long that leads to Holyrood-house. It's said that the skirl of bagpipes can be heard coming from the tunnel, the eery sounds of a piper who was once sent down to play as he followed the long gallery, but he was never seen again.
There is also a drummer often said to be headless. It was he who warned the court of imminent attacks against the Castle. And there is even supposed to be the ghost of a dog that wanders along the battlements, for Edinburgh Castle even has an old cemetery for pets.
But as it's almost Christmas, perhaps we should concentrate on merrier thoughts and activities. For example, let's refer to this fine menu of what was served for a reasonable price three years ago as the Christmas dinner in Edinburgh Castle.
Potted hough of Scottish beef with spiced plum marmalade, horseradish coleslaw and bannock bread served with Loredona Pinot Grigio.
Followed by roasted sea bass with chorizo, red onion and cherry vine tomatoes served with Brouill, Domaine de Moulin Faire.
Followed by roast goose, crispy streaky bacon and caramelised brussel sprouts with roast potatoes and chestnut stuffing served with d'Arenberg Hermit Crab Marsanne Viognier (Crisp, fruity, summer, southern Australian white wine).
Followed by Castle Christmas pudding parfait with cranberry relish served with Graham Beck Rhona Muscadel.
Followed by tea or coffee and chocolate truffles.
Followed by the thought that it would be best to treat words such as crisis, and credit ratings, etc.,' also as myths and legends, and enjoy the Christmas period comme il faut.
Scottish myths 11
Scottish myths 11
Scottish myths 9