Site Specifics - Stirling Castle
What is it?
Apart from the backdrop for Braveheart? It’s Scotland’s grandest stronghold, the crucial strategic point in the Wars of Independence, home of the Scottish kings for half a millennium. And, er, the backdrop for Braveheart.
Great. I love Braveheart. What do I get to see apart from Mel Gibson’s pecs?
Ew. You’re joking, right? The castle’s on an extinct volcano 250ft above the plain, and whether you’re looking up from beneath or down from the battlements, the views are pretty awe-inspiring. It’s got a serious set of defences, too, and a Great Hall which can, and does, claim to be ‘the grandest secular building erected in Scotland in the late Middle Ages’.
How much will it cost?
£8.50 for adults and £3.50 for children, which will also get you into Argyll’s Lodging, probably Scotland’s most splendid example of a seventeenth-century townhouse, and home to a purple four-poster bed lurid enough to make even Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen think twice.
Is there a café?
Yes. If it’s raining you can take your scones in a series of vaulted chambers set in the Outer Defences, and if the sun’s out, or you’re feeling particularly hardy, you can look out to the nearby Wallace Monument from a rooftop terrace.
How do I get there?
It’s a short walk from the station, and there are regular buses and trains from Glasgow and Edinburgh. Given Stirling’s vital strategic location (‘He who holds Stirling holds Scotland’), it’s little surprise to find that the road connections are excellent. Just make sure you keep your windows closed if a muscly chap in war paint starts heading for your car.
Stirling Castle, 01786 450000, www.stirling.gov.uk