Monday, 16 December 2013

Christmas at Stirling Castle

This Sunday the Scotland Adventures brought Taylor, Rachel and me to Stirling. Our goal was to visit Stirling Castle and the Christmas event they had on that day.
Church and unicorn pillar on the way up.
First view of the castle.
View over a graveyard

Rachel had some Christmas shopping to take care of while Taylor and I went ahead. We arrived just in time for the program to start, and we were greeted by some lovely ladies in medieval dresses handing out modern chocolate coins. The first post on the program was the Christmas puppet show. It was really sweat and really fun for the children.

After half an hour of puppets Taylor and I went into the Palace and had a look around in all the pretty rooms. This part of Stirling Castle, the Royal Palace, was mainly built under James V of Scotland in the early sixteenth century. It has a lot of Renaissance influences and pretty colours.

We had a pleasant chat with Lady Janet Stewart, King James V's sister. She told us some stories from the Castle, about young Mary Queen of Scots playing football using the guards as goalposts. We gossiped about fashion, hygiene and yule tide.

The mantlepieces in the palace were all so pretty.

And the roofs! We actually lay down in the middle of the rooms to take pictures of it. The first picture following is a restored version of the Stirling heads, carved oak portraits.
Floor selfie
We looked at half of the rooms before hurrying back to the great hall in time for We Are Not Amused with Queen Victoria. We heard of the origins of some Christmas traditions, like the Christmas cracker and Christmas cards. In the olden days it was popular to send roasted dormice with the cards. But sometimes it could be some time before the post could deliver the letters, so the post office wasn't always a pleasant place to be come Christmas. The practice was banned and to this day it is still illegal to send roasted dormice in the post in December.
 We then had a concert with the Swinging Santas.

Rachel had again joined us, and we went back to the palace to see the rest of the rooms.

Some of the doors were original 16th century doors, whereas everything else had been recently restored. The staff were so lovely, one of them demonstrated how the door was built, with nails and vertical boards on one side and horizontal boards on the other.
He also opened a beautiful restored linen closet for us.

A recreation of The Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries hung in the Queen's Presence Chamber.
They also had a display of the festive foods that would have been served at the court in the 16th century.

It had started to rain and the sun was setting, but there was still more to see.

View from up on the wall. I was interested in the raised circles on the green field, but weren't able to figure out what it was.

We visited the chapel, a museum, three gift shops and walked around on the walls. Suddenly it was almost 5 o'clock and the castle was about to close. The horizon had turned beautifully brilliant, and we ran around like mad trying to capture the moment with our cameras. Because that's what you do these days, isn't it? Look at the sky through a camera lens so that others might share in the wonder of nature too. And then realizing your camera can't quite capture the beauty of the moment anyway, so why bother.

And thus ended our Christmas adventure to Stirling Castle.

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