Our first castle of the trip was Edinburgh Castle. More of a military fortress than a royal home, Edinburgh Castle is full of museums of war and houses Scotland’s Crown Jewels, as well as the infamous Stone of Destiny. Edinburgh Castle sits at the top of a hill and has survived countless attacks, its position proving to be pretty much impenetrable – in fact, the only successful takeover of the castle was done by the Scots themselves, when they were taking back their castle from the English.
We spent a good majority of the day there, exploring its every nook and cranny, as you do when confronted with a many nook and cranny.
We went through the museums they have dedicated to the various regiments of Scottish soldiers. We saw the prisons, where many escape attempts took place (including one man who tried hiding in a pile of sewage and was subsequently thrown over the side of the castle – needless to say, his escape attempt didn’t quite work out as planned). We walked through the Great Hall, and Mary Queen of Scots’ state rooms, where she had given birth to her son, James VI of Scotland, the future James I of England. It’s always brilliant, being able to walk through history like that.
We saw the Scottish Crown Jewels, as well as the Stone of Destiny. This stone was used for centuries during the coronation of the Scottish kings; when the kingdoms united, England took it and used it for their coronations, and the Stone remained in England until 1996 when the Queen allowed it to return to Scotland, where it sits now in Edinburgh Castle. However, the Stone had a brief return to Scotland in 1950, when some Scottish university students decided they’d try and take it back, and were successful – mostly.
On Christmas Day, they snuck into Westminster Abbey at night, and removed the Stone from where it sat beneath the throne; in the process of doing so, they accidentally dropped the Stone and it broke in half. Oops. Despite this, and despite the borders being closed between Scotland and England on the discovery of the missing Stone, they managed to get the Stone of Destiny back into Scotland. Eventually, they returned it, feeling it didn’t rightfully belong to them.
When you look at the Stone today, take a closer look at it – you can still see the hairline crack from where it broke in half on its wild adventure back in 1950, later to be fused back together by a stone mason.
After refueling ourselves with food, we headed to a place called Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, for a very trippy time. There were lots of cool things there, from zapping rods, to a complex mirror maze, to a spinning tunnel of lights that when walking through makes you feel like you’re going to hurdle right over the edge. It was a lot of fun, and a good way to end off our day of adventuring.