Edinburgh Castle Rock was formed over 300 million years ago by volcanic eruptions. The first evidence of inhabitants on the rock was in the Bronze Age circa 1500 BC. Evidence of an Iron Age fort has been unearthed dated circa 90 BC. The first writings about a fortress on Edinburgh Castle Rock circa 600 AD in a poem Gododdin which tells of the Gododdin a race of warriors who lived in the south-east of Scotland and north-east of England. They left the fortress of Din Eiden (Edinburgh) and went from the castle to do battle with the Angles of Northumbria. The Gododdin were wiped out and the Angles of Northumbria took control of the area until Malcolm II took over control of the area in 1016 at the Battle of Carham and extended the borders of Scotland to the River Tweed as Northumbria extended as for as the River Forth. The Castle was originally built of wood by Malcolm III circa 1070 and then built of stone by King David I circa 1130 including the building of a small Chapel for his mother Margaret which is now the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh Castle. The occupation of Edinburgh Castle in 1296 by Edward I of England lasted until early 1314 when the Scots led by Thomas Randolph – First earl of Moray recaptured Edinburgh Castle for the Scots. In 1335 the English under Edward III took it back until 1341 when William Douglas regained it for the Scots. In 1361 David II strengthened the fortifications of Edinburgh Castle and built a tower said to be over 60 foot high which unfortunately was destroyed very little remnants are still visible. Mons Meg a gigantic Belgian canon was delivered to Edinburgh Castle in 1457 as a gift to King James II which can still be seen today. Mons Meg has not fired since 1681. David’s Tower was destroyed in the Lang Siege in May 1573, Edinburgh Castle was left in reins and rubble and very little of the original Edinburgh Castle fortress remains from before that date. The rebuilding of Edinburgh Castle started almost immediately after Edinburgh Castle being taken by the English in 1573, with a new portcullis Gate and the rebuilding of David’s Tower with the Half-Moon battery that can be seen today. The last King to stay at the Castle was Charles I in 1633 before his coronation. In 1650 Edinburgh Castle was once again under attack by the English led by Oliver Cromwell and after several months of siege, Edinburgh Castle was surrendered to Oliver Cromwell and the English forces. When Charles II was restored as King he set up an army garrison in Edinburgh Castle that remained until the 1920’s. Edinburgh Castle became a tourist attraction and was open to visitors circa 1833 and is now one of the world’s most visited attractions.Edinburgh Castle

  Things to see in Edinburgh Castle

The Stone of Destiny

The Stone of Destiny was returned on St Andrews Day, 30 November 1996 to Scotland for the first time in 700 years.  The Stone of Destiny has many stories of its origins from Syria to Egypt then to Spain before arriving in Ireland and then Scotland. It was plundered by King Edward I in 1296 and has been in Westminster Abbey until its return on St Andrews Day, 30 November 1996.

The Scottish Crown Jewels (Thee Honours of Scotland)

The Scottish Crown Jewels were first used to crown Mary Queen of Scots in 1543 and have been in present in Edinburgh Castle since 1660. Forgotten about the Honours of Scotland were subsequently found locked in a chest in the crown room by Sir Walter Scott in 1818 and have been on display ever since.


Edinburgh Castle’s Royal Palace

Edinburgh Castle’s Royal Palace was were Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to her son 1566, later to become James VI and her mother Mary of Guise died in 1560 and James VI returned in 1617 with the last royal to stay here being Charles I in 1633

Edinburgh Castle’s Great Hall was built by King James IV circa 1480 and completed in circa 1510 and restored in 1888. This magnificent architectural sight with its wooden roof is one of the best preserved in the Castles of the UK 

St Margaret’s Chapel was built by David I circa 1130 for his mother Queen Margaret and renamed in 1250 when Margaret was canonised to St Margaret’s Chapel. St Margaret’s Chapel is the said to be the oldest building in Edinburgh Castle and Edinburgh still in use today.


Edinburgh Castle’s Regimental Museum and Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum The Regimental Museum tells the history of the Scottish regiments, their heroes and unique artefacts from battles. The most important artifact being the flag taken by Ensign Ewart from the French at the Battle of Waterloo.     Ensign Ewart with the French Standard at the Battle of Waterloo

Edinburgh Castle Famous Cannon Mons Meg Mons Meg is a Belgian cannon given to James II as a gift in 1457. Named after where it was tested in Mons in Belgium. Mons Meg was a super gun that could shoot a cannonball up to 2 miles. Mons Meg was last used in battle circa 1554 and was last fired circa 1680, when the barrel burst. It spent many years in England. Mons Meg was finally returned to the Castle in 1829 and has been on the battlements ever since.

Edinburgh Castle’s One o’clock Gun. The One O’clock Gun was the audio aid for the ship’s captains that had their ships in the Firth of Forth to set their chronometers by. It is synchronised with the Time Ball on the Nelson Monument on Calton Hill which was the original visual aid for the ships captains. The One O’clock Gun is fired every day except Sunday at 13.00 hours 1pm from Edinburgh Castle battlements.

Edinburgh Castle One O'clock Gun on the Edinburgh Castle battlements


Edinburgh Castle’s Half Moon Battery and David’s Tower. David II built David’s Tower circa 1361 and it was destroyed in the Lang Siege in May 1573, rebuilding took place where David’s Tower had stood with the Half-Moon battery (Great Half Bastion Round) by Lord Chancellor of Scotland Regent Morton which you can see today.  

Edinburgh Castle David's Tower and Half Moon Battery and where the Flodden wall started.


Edinburgh Castle’s Scottish National War Memorial The National War Museum tells the story of Scotland at war with many items from the past that tell great stories of battles won and to many that were lost.National war museum commemorates all who have fallen in wars from 1914 to this day. A display of the rolls of honour is of all in Scottish services and civilians who were casualties of wars.



Link to Castle Esplanade

Return to Royal Mile

Link to All About Edinburgh