Over the centuries Stirling has been host to many monarchs, and it has also been involved in its fair share of coronations and Royal Christenings.
On 29th of July 1567 King James VI (1566-1625) was crowned King of Scotland in the Church of the Holy Rude, the second oldest building in Stirling with the oldest being its neighbour Stirling Castle. It is one of three churches in the UK to have held a coronation and still be functioning as an active place of worship, the others being Westminster Abby and Gloucester Cathedral. The coronation Celebrations included a feast in the Great Hall and a firework display on the castle Esplanade, with red and yellow fireworks matching the colours of the royal livery. On the 24th May 1997, Queen Elizabeth II visited the Church of the Holy Rude to watch a re-enactment of the coronation of James VI, and unveiled a commemorative inscription to mark the occasion.
James VI’s mother, Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587), was crowned Queen of Scotland on September 9th 1543 at just nine-months old in Stirling Castle’s chapel. James VI demolished this chapel and erected an even grander Chapel Royal which still stands today. It was built in 1594 in just six-months for the Christening of Prince Henry (1594-1612), the first-born son of King James VI and Anne of Denmark (1574-1619). It was the last large royal building to be constructed in the castle complex, and it was also one of the first Protestant kirks built in Scotland. After the christening ceremony in the Chapel Royal noble guests were invited to the Great Hall for a feast where the fish course arrived on a large model ship.
The painted frieze which runs around the Chapel Royal was painted by Valentine Jenkin in 1628. It was part of wider works to prepare the castle for a visit from King Charles I (1600-1649) after he was crowned in England in 1625. Unfortunately, Charles I didn’t make his way to Stirling Castle until 1633 and even then he only stayed a few days. His son, Charles II (1630-1685) stayed at the Castle in 1650, he was the last monarch to visit Scotland until George IV’s visit in 1822, and the last reigning monarch to stay at Stirling Castle.
The Stone of Destiny
Ahead of the coronation of King Charles III, Historic Environment Scotland’s Digital Documentation Team, based at The Engine Shed in Stirling, scanned the Stone of Destiny. These scans revealed previously unseen roman numerals and a 3D model of the Stone is now available to view on Sketchfab. The scans have also been used to create an exact scale 3D printed replica of the Stone, which has been used to help preparations for placing it in the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey. The Stone of Destiny was removed from Edinburgh Castle on the 28th April in a specially constructed oak carrier designed by Historic Environment Scotland’s joinery and conservation teams. It will be placed within the Coronation Chair for the ceremony, before returning home to Scotland.
Since 1996 it has been on display at Edinburgh Castle in the Crown Room, but in 2020 the Scottish Government announced that the stone will be relocated to Perth Museum after its redevelopment. Perth Museum will reopen in spring 2024 in Perth City Hall.