Looking At Edinburgh

14 March 2008

Edinburgh Castle from Castle Terrace

This photo was taken from here. It’s on Redbubble: Edinburgh Castle from Castle Terrace.

Every photoblog of Edinburgh has to have a photo of Edinburgh Castle: I think it’s a rule. The standard photo is either from Princes Street or from the Esplanade: but if you stand on the traffic island just where Castle Terrace corners north towards Princes Street, a few meters west of Spittal Street, and look up, you see the steep rock face – the cliffs are about 80 meters high – and the medieval walls enclosing the 18th-century buildings.

From a slightly different angle, and larger:

(also available on Redbubble)

“How old is Edinburgh Castle?” a friend’s child once asked me: and was most frustrated when I told her “That question is not answerable.” The rock has been fortified since before Scotland had a written history. Edinburgh Castle has been the military headquarters for the army in Scotland for about eight or nine hundred years, at least since David I’s reign (1124-1153) if not since Malcolm III’s reign (1058-1093).

The chapel built by David I to the memory of Queen Margaret is the oldest building still standing on the rock. Margaret was Edward the Exile’s daughter, Edgar Ætheling’s sister, David’s mother, Malcolm’s wife, and chief instigator of the reform of the practices of the old Celtic Church of Scotland into more standard practices of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland. (She died in 1093 and was canonised in 1251, during the reign of her great-great grandson Alexander III.)

But walk through the Castle – these days, if you’re a foreign invader, you don’t need to scale the rock, just pay an entrance fee and walk through the gate past armed guards who will not shoot you – and you will see that it is built and built and built again; layers of stone and cobbled roads and dungeons and guns making a cake of history on top of the basalt plug. But from the outside, what you see is the craig that the glacier left, steep-sided and invincible to foreign invaders until the century of the aeroplane.

But from Princes Street, in haar and moonlight, the castle looks like this:

This photo is available on Redbubble: Castle: Shadows and Moonlight.


1 Comment »

  1. […] Coastal Edinburgh: The shore at Portobello Filed under: photos, seaside — Tags: Firth of Forth, Portobello, Puerto Bello, seaside, William Jameson — edinburghlook @ 8:01 am Historically, Edinburgh isn’t a seaside city: the original Edinburgh, the walled city, where everyone lived until the union of Crowns and Parliaments made people feel they could risk building the city outside the walls, is centred around the spine of stone on the highest end of which the Castle was built. […]

    Pingback by Coastal Edinburgh: The shore at Portobello « Looking At Edinburgh — 1 September 2008 @ 8:03 am

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