Edinburgh Castle

Scotland's most popular tourist destination

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History of Edinburgh Castle - (RC Toys)

Edinburgh Castle is situated on Castle Rock in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. Castle Rock formed after a volcano erupted over 340 million years ago. The first castle that existed on the rock was known as “The Castle of the Maidens”. According to legend, the castle had been a shrine to the “Nine Maidens”, one of whom was Morgan le Fay.

Castle Rock had been a military base and royal residence for centuries. However, the edifice that is known as Edinburgh Castle was built during the 12th century by David I, son of Saint Margaret of Scotland. 

The tensions between the English and Scottish monarchies nearly always centred on Edinburgh Castle. He who held the castle held rule over the city of Edinburgh and, therefore, over all of Scotland. Consequently, the castle was almost constantly under siege. 

The first major battle the castle witnessed was during the late 13th century when Edward I of England attempted to seize the then vacant Scottish throne. From 1296 to 1341, the castle bounced from English to Scottish hands several times during the First and Second Wars of Scottish Independence. 

After the Wars of Independence, the castle was in great need of repairs. Most of the construction was overseen by David II. In his honour, David’s Tower was erected. 

In 1571, English forces laid siege to the city of Edinburgh in an attempt to capture Mary, Queen of Scots. The siege, which lasted for two years, became known as the “long” or “Lang” siege. By February of 1573, all of Mary’s supporters had surrendered to the English. During the Lang Siege, David’s Tower was destroyed. 

The castle, again, witnessed strife when, in 1650, Oliver Cromwell executed Charles I and led an invasion of Scotland. In August of that year, Edinburgh Castle fell into English hands. 

During the Jacobite Risings (1688-1746), the Scots attempted, several times, to recapture their castle. Unfortunately, they were never able to overpower the English. The final attempt was in 1745 when the Jacobite army was led by Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie). Although the Scots were able to capture the city, they were never able to lay siege to the castle. In November of that year, the Jacobites were forced to retreat. 

From the late 18th century to the early 19th, Edinburgh Castle was used to hold military prisoners from England’s many wars. The castle became a national monument in 1814 after a mass prison break proved that the castle could not hold prisoners. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the castle was slowly restored. Military ceremonies began to be held there and, in 1927, part of the castle was turned into the Scottish National War Memorial.

Edinburgh Castle is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Scotland. The more than one million people who visit the castle each year witness military ceremonies, historical re-enactments, and can visit sites such as St. Margaret’s Chapel and the Great Hall of King James IV. 


340 million B.C.E. – Castle Rock forms after volcanic eruption

900 B.C.E. – Castle Rock is inhabited by humans for the first time

638 C.E. – The city of Din Eidyn is captured by the English and renamed Edinburgh 

c. 1070 C.E. – Malcolm III marries an English princess later known as Saint Margaret of Scotland 

1130 C.E. – Margaret's son, David I, builds on Castle Rock the edifice that is still standing to this day

1286 C.E. – Alexander III dies without a successor. Edward I of England declares himself feudal overlord of Scotland

1296 C.E. – Edinburgh Castle is captured by the English under the command of Edward I

1313 C.E. – Castle is recaptured by the Scots

1334 C.E. – Castle is, again, captured by the British

1341 C.E. – Castle is, once again, recaptured by the Scots

1356 C.E. – David II rebuilds the castle; David’s Tower is named in his honor

1511 C.E. – James IV builds the great hall that can still be seen to this day

1573 C.E. – The Lang Siege takes place and destroys David’s Tower

1578 C.E. – Castle is rebuilt

1633 C.E. – Charles I becomes the last Scottish monarch to inhabit Edinburgh Castle

1650 C.E. – Oliver Cromwell executes Charles I and captures the castle

1689 C.E. – Members of the first Jacobite Rising attempt, and fail, to recapture the castle

1745 C.E. – Bonnie Prince Charlie and the members of the fifth Jacobite Rising, once again, attempt and fail to recapture the castle

1757 C.E. – Edinburgh Castle is turned into a prison and holds thousands of military prisoners from the Seven Years War, the American Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars 

1822 C.E. – George IV of England becomes the first ruling monarch to visit the castle in nearly two hundred years

1927 C.E. – Part of the castle is turned into the Scottish National War Memorial 

1945 C.E. – Edinburgh Castle survives World War II

1999 C.E. – Edinburgh Castle becomes one of the most popular tourist attractions in Scotland 

Present Day – Edinburgh Castle has over one million visitors each year


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