Stirling Castle is situated at the top of a huge volcanic rock outcrop, and is visible for many miles in all directions. The castle has played a major part in the various conflicts between the Scots and English over many centuries, changing hands several times. It is associated with most of the great names from Scottish history, such as William Wallace and Robert The Bruce, and it is here that the infant Mary, Queen of Scots was crowned in 1543.
Today many parts of the castle have been refurbished and are open to the public. For example the largest banqueting hall in Scotland is located here. The Great Hall, as it is known, was restored to its 16th century glory in 1999. The visitor will gain some insight to the scale of castle life during a tour of The Great Kitchens. These are a vast complex of kitchens, bake-houses, brew-houses and storerooms which occupy the whole of one side of the Outer Close from the Great Hall to the Elphinstone Tower.
The grounds of the castle also contain many glimpses of Stirling Castle’s violent past. The seven-gun Grand battery was a major part of the castle’s defence and all the guns can be seen to point towards the old Stirling Bridge, the lowest crossing point of the River Forth in those days, and from where the enemy could be expected to approach.
Stirling Castle is also home to the Stirling Heads. These are richly carved oak medallions which once formed part of the ceiling in the castle’s royal palace. Dating from around 1540, they depict the faces of Scottish and European kings and queens, noblemen, classical heroes and Roman emperors.
In the 15th-century King's Old Building can be found the regimental museum of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Among the exhibits on display are the regimental silver, uniforms and weapons, bagpipes and drums, and other regimental artefacts from battles around the world. Unfortunately there is no access to the museum for disabled visitors.
To help to get the most out of a visit to the castle there are free guided tours throughout the day. There are also audio tours available in several languages.
The Unicorn Cafe offers a wide range of hot and cold meals and drinks. An added attraction is the rooftop patio area from which you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside as you eat. There are 2 gift shops within the castle grounds. The main shop offers a wide range of Scottish gifts including an extensive tapestry range. A selection of children’s souvenirs is available on the first floor. Nearby is the bookshop and whisky store.
There are public toilets on site and disabled access toilets and baby changing facilities are available at the Guardroom Square and the Great Hall. Car parking is available on the castle esplanade and includes disabled spaces.
Tel: 01786 450 000