The first mention of Stirling Castle, sitting high atop the Castle Hill rock formation, was in the 12th century. Stirling Castle as we know it today was constructed between the late 15th and 16th century.
Stirling Castle is considered an important part of Scottish history. Not only was it home to various kings and queens throughout history, it was the location where Mary, Queen of Scots spent a considerable amount of her life, including during her coronation in 1542.
Old Mary had quite a life though. She reigned Scotland for 25 years, had three husbands, one of which was her cousin and died in mysterious circumstances, rumours persist about him being knocked off by her third husband James Hepburn. Life tends to come in waves, good and bad. However things didn't get any better for Mary, following an uprising she was imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle and forced to abdicate the throne to her 1-year old son. She fled south to England seeking asylum where she was imprisoned and subsequently executed for the Babington Plot, a plan to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I in 1586!
The Royal Palace can be best described as a time machine as it whisks you back to the 16th century and provides an informative experience for visitors to walk through the grand and ornate rooms and experience what life was like for the Kings and Queens of Scotland.
If you like to see your history come alive then you’ll enjoy talking to the costumed characters who are very keen to provide detailed information to the many visitors. It does feel a little odd approaching them but they are than happy to share their keen insider knowledge of The Royal Palace.
The Great Hall
The Great Hall was completed in 1503 for King James IV and was the largest banqueting hall ever created in Scotland which could fit 500 people! From the moment you walk in you can tell it must have been truly breathtaking during its heyday.
At the entrance of the Great Hall is a small information board which tells the story of the incredible feast which took place in the hall in 1594 to celebrate the baptism of King James VI’s son, Prince Henry. A 5 metre long ship with fully rigged brass guns was WHEELED into the hall to serve the fish course! That must have been SPECTACULAR! My imagination is still captured by it.
At the end of the Great Hall was where the King and Queen would have sat overlooking the festivities, all the while being kept warm by five large fireplaces. This was pretty easy to visualise because an interactive display was set up whereby visitors could sit in the throne and have their photo taken.
You may have noticed that the colour of the outside walls of the Great Hall are a rich orange, this is actually Royal Gold render and is how it would have looked during during the 16th century.