How did it get to be “day 12”? This holiday has flown by!
This morning I woke up in a Hotel that was built in 1785. Robert Burns once stayed here and wrote a quote on one of the windows. It’s very grand by late 1700 standards, the dining room at bit much to deal with first thing in the morning, but the staff quick with the tea & toast – full Scottish breakfast available on the buffet (boofey, in Scottish) Still not going for that blood pudding….
It was all up hill from there – literally. First stop, the old town jail and the tourist info office. Onwards to the Church of the Holy Rude. This building can only be described as ‘solid’. Quite the imposing site, huge cemetery to visit that also gave an amazing view of the Castle and beyond.
The Stirling Castle is the main focus for today. Home to the Stewart Kings, scene of many sieges, rebuilds and finally one of the grandest old castles for viewing in Scotland. The surrounding old town, something legends are made of. The William Wallace Memorial stands on a hill about 5 miles away, while Robert the Bruce, who was raised in this castle, is immortalized on its grounds.
Several hours were spent touring the castle grounds itself. Every entry and room telling what life was like, an insight into the perils of Royal life and the intrigue that entailed. Family members murdered… The usual stuff of soap operas. Quite fascinating really.
A very interesting character appeared, offering free tours of the Argyll Lodging. Quite frankly, I might have passed, but it sounded interesting, so the mission was to find somewhere to catch a quick bite and kill and hour. Fortunately there was another 200 year old hotel that offered a cozy place to sit and eat, great food and a chance meeting with another Canadian couple who were on a 5 week hiking trip. The weather today is beautiful, so a patio stop perfect.
The Argyll Lodging turned out to be a home, built in several stages, owned by multiple interesting commoners with close ties to the royals who lived up the street in the castle. The tour really offered an insight into life in the 1600s. Pomp and circumstance, the colour purple and it’s meaning, how many snails were required to make this colour… It was all very worth the time. One if the owners was the Viscount of Canada and was so important to New Scotland or Nova Scotia, symbolism in his coat of arms looked vaguely familiar…. Beavers, native indians to start with.
After leaving the lodging and thinking about checking out the bus arrangements for tomorrow, a very unique character Appeared by chance. Local history freak, making a living hosting walking tours. He stopped to chat, and chat he did. Wonderful to meet someone so into the real people stories of his town. Everyone is so focused on the big tourist stops, it was such a treat to hear the more common tales .. He also recommended a great place to eat!
The last lesson of the day. Every city and even small towns have what I thought was called the Market Square. I was wrong, it’s the Mercat Square. This is the spot where local justice was dispensed. In Stirling, there were two weavers executed in the Mercat Square in the 1820s because they were protesting for the right to vote. Trade associations, or as we know them – unions, were thought to be enough of a threat that this type of radical thought had stiff sentencing. The Stirling square post and many others often have a unicorn on the top. The unicorn is a renaissance sign of Christ, the Scottish Kings felt they were twice as holy and that’s why two unicorns appear on the Stewart crest.
It’s funny the things you learn when you run into a fellow history freak. If you think about it, ask me about Darnley House. Now that’s a great story!