The main destination for today was Stirling. It has a castle, and the Wallace Monument, and was an important spot in the Scots war for independence (which started in c1100 and only really ended when they elected their own parliament in 1999).
Stirling Castle was amazing. Until the 1960s it was used by the army to store munitions and as a barracks. Since then, it has been carefully restored to its former c1500s glory. It was really good to be able to see a castle as it would have looked in the 16th century. We’ve seen a lot of ruins, and it takes imagination and a good deal of squinting to see them as they would have looked in their heyday. Stirling is bright and full of colour.
They have a project, begun in 2001 and almost completed, to make seven huge tapestries for the Queen’s chambers. The originals of these are in the MoMA in New York City, and several weavers are working to faithfully replicate them. You can watch them work. Very cool.
One of the seven colourful tapestries hanging in the Queen’s chamber
From the castle, we stopped by the Wallace Monument, completed in 1891 to remember William Wallace – the commoner who defeated the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 and started a fervent nationalist sentiment in Scotland that remains today. If you’ve seen the movie Braveheart, you know how the story of William Wallace ends.
William Wallace’s claymore. It stands 164cm tall. He must have been a large man!
On our way to our hotel, we stopped in at Scone to see the chapel where Scottish kings and queens were traditionally crowned. It also contains a replica of the Stone of Scone, the original was brought to England by Edward I in 1296 as a spoil of war. It has crowned English monarchs ever since. It was returned to the Scots in 1996 and the original is now in Edinburgh castle (with a promise that the English can use it when they crown their kings and queens in the future).
Tonight we are staying in a very grand manor house, built in the mid-1800s. It’s lovely, with roaring fires, cosy couches and delicious food. Heaven.
It’s an unassuming little chapel, for such an important place