Storming the Castle

The weekend of March 9-11 was a mix of exploring new places and homework. I'll save you from reading about more homework marathons and relate the exciting parts of my weekend. 

Friday started with a train ride to Stirling, where we walked up...and up....and up to the Castle.

Stirling Castle

We walked through an exhibit of the Kings and Queens of Scotland's past and through the "Queen Anne Garden" where the royalty would have played yard games. We then joined a tour and visited the Great Hall (the largest Medieval Great Hall in Europe) where we got to sit in the King's and Queen's chairs. We learned that theses thrones also served as "thrones" for the royalty. Sessions of Parliament could last hours on end and no one could leave until the King or Queen left (otherwise you might be plotting against them). So while the sovereign could 'relieve' themselves and never leave their seat, the nobles were very uncomfortable  by the end of the day!

After the Great Hall it was onto the Chapel Royal, which James VI built to be a 1:1 scale model of Salomon's Temple in Jerusalem. We then moved into the Palace. The door through which we entered was the original door - 500 years old! We walked through the elaborate bedchambers, throne room, and sitting rooms before continuing to the Great Kitchens, and eventually leaving the Castle to catch the train to our next stop!

Linlithgow Palace
 We arrived in Linlithgow  (between Stirling and Edinburgh) and found our way to the Palace. Linlithgow Palace was home to the Stewart Dynasty (Mary, Queen of Scots was born there) and was continually improved upon by each monarch. It saw fire twice, the second one in September of 1745 leaving it in the ruins that stand there today. There was no guided tour or
refurbished decor; we were free to explore nearly every abandoned passageway and room.


The picture on the left was taken in the center courtyard and the Palace forms a square around it. The fountain in the center of the courtyard is the oldest fountain in Great Britain. At one time during Bonnie Prince Charlie's occupation the fountain flowed with wine. 

We explored the kitchens, pantry, Great Hall, chapel, and state rooms as well as nearly every staircase in the Palace!

On Saturday, Chelsea and I visited the National Museum of Scotland with our host mom, Virginia. Not only did we see artifacts and learn more about Scotland's history, Virginia also showed us the room where she and her husband got married and pointed out places where they got their wedding pictures taken! After the museum we met up with our host dad, Steve, at Ocean Terminal for tea (what we call supper). Besides being a shopping center, the Royal Yacht Britannia is anchored at Ocean Terminal. Before being retired, the Britannia was the Queen's personal yacht. We didn't tour the inside, but we saw the elegant outside!

Sunday morning, a group of us girls went to a Church of Scotland service at St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. If St. Nicholas in Dalkeith was a simple elegant, St. Giles was an awe-inspiring elegant. It was simply massive with lofty lofty ceilings, and unlike Westminster Abbey in London, the entirety was used for the service. There were several stained glass windows, many of them took up nearly the entire height of the walls! We chose a service that included the choir and when they sang it filled the Cathedral with incredible harmonies.

A castle, palaces, and the Queen's personal yacht; pardon the cheesiness, but I'd say we had a pretty royal weekend!


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