Stirling Castle

One of Scotland’s most important castles. Successive monarchs have adapted the castle to suit their changing needs, culminating in the Palace built by James IV in the 1500s.

Castle Rock, a volcanic outcrop rising above the River Forth, has been fortified since at least the 12th century. Stirling Castle was first and foremost a defensive structure, it has been under siege at least eight times in its history, and the battles of Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn were fought nearby.

Almost all of the existing buildings visitors can admire today were built between 1490 and 1600 by James IV, James V and James VI. These Stuart monarchs transformed the castle into a Renaissance palace worthy of a cultured and wealthy court.   

In 1603, when King James was crowned I of England and VI of Scotland, the court moved permanently to London and Stirling lost its status as a royal centre. The Castle and Royal Park began to fall into disrepair, until Charles I made a short visit in 1633, and refurbishments were ordered to tidy the place up before he arrived. Charles' stay at Stirling Castle was brief and his son, Charles II, became the last reigning monarch to stay in the castle in 1650.

After being used to house covenanter prisoners, a garrison was installed in the castle in 1685. During the Jacobite rising of 1745-6 Charles Edward Stewart, Bonnie Prince Charlie, had to pass Stirling Castle on his way down to Edinburgh from the Highlands. When he returned back through the town after being defeated in 1746 he captured it, but the government garrison in the castle put up a fight, and their guns destroyed much of the Jacobite occupied Mar’s Wark in the process.

In 1800, the castle became a barracks run by the War Office, and was home to the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders until 1964. In the 20th century, the castle underwent a multimillion-pound 10-year restoration and re-creation project which was completed in 2011. It is now one of the most popular visitor attractions in Scotland.


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