Scotland

Culross

Culross is a 17th century formal Royal burgh in Fife, just a short trip outside of Edinburgh. One of the added benefits is that it brings you over one of the newest Forth Bridges that cross the Firth of Forth.

Culross offers a Mercat Cross, cobblestone streets, a tolbooth, and narrow wynds (alleys). The town is situated on the muddy shores of the Forth. It once exported coal and salt and even had a trade monopoly in the manufacture of baking girdles (griddles). Culross’s fortunes changed when the coal in the area was exhausted, causing other towns in the area to prosper while Culross remained somewhat frozen in time, a sort of ghost town. Victorian developments and more modern architecture never replaced the 17th and 18th century merchant houses.

In the 1930s, the National Trust for Scotland bought the decaying historically significant properties, including Sir Bruce of Carnock’s Culross Palace from the 1590s, a Study, and Culross Town House. The Cistercian House of Culross Abbey founded in 1217 is also a short walk from the town center.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle sits on a volcanic plug, one of the seven Hills that make up city of Edinburgh. The city itself has to be one of the most stunning cities you can visit, offering not only the castle, but also multiple Georgian buildings, a beautiful Cathedral, parks, Holyroodhouse Palace, museums, nightlife, and just about anything else you can look for while on a vacation.

The Royal Mile is the biggest draw for tourists because it begins with the Palace of Holyroodhouse and ends with Edinburgh Castle. On either side of the Royal Mile are Old Town and New Town (1760s to 1890s), which are also excellent places to visit. Leith on the Forth is another popular place to visit. That is where you will find the Royal yacht Britannia.

The architecture in Edinburgh is pretty spectacular, and it seems like every single building has gigantic Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian columns, except for the very modern Scottish Parliament building, which seems like it was plopped into the middle of a neighborhood where it doesn’t belong.

Jedburgh

Jedburgh is famous for its ruined Abbey, which was nearly destroyed by the English Earl of Hertford’s forces in 1544–45, during the “Rough Wooing”. English King Henry VIII (1491–1547) attempted (forcefully) to persuade the Scots that it was a good idea to unite the kingdoms by the marriage of his son to the infant Mary, Queen of Scots (1542–87); the Scots disagreed and sent Mary to France instead.

Scotland has many ruined Abbeys, but there are still some elaborate details carved into this particular one. This Abby was under construction for so long that no one builder saw the project from start to finish. But then again laying the foundation started in 1150! We had fun with some of the displays where we rebuilt arches using blocks of wood that serve as replicas of stones.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle sits atop Castle Hill, which is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs (making it a very good location for defense). Much of the castle was built in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, although a few structures do date back to the fourteenth century.

Before Scotland’s union with England, Stirling Castle was a Scottish royal residence (as well as a fortress). Multiple Scottish Kings and Queens were crowned at Stirling, including Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1542.

See the Stirling Heads Post for more interesting history of this castle.

Stirling Heads

There exists a unique collection within Stirling Castle (located in Stirling, Scotland). The castle itself is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, both historically and architecturally. See Stirling Castle.

The Stirling Heads are one-meter wide 16th-century oak medallions carved with images of kings, queens, nobles, Roman emperors and characters from the Bible and Classical mythology. They decorated palace ceilings until a collapse in 1777, after which they were dispersed.

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