Posted by: mdmusingsie | August 6, 2011

Stirling, revisted

I was excited to hear that the work they had been undertaking in the Royal Palace at Stirling Castle was complete. The last time I had visited Scotland, it had been under construction, with scaffolding covering much of the exterior. I hadn’t realized that the British military had only exited the site in 1964, which accounts for the fact that it hadn’t been refurbished sooner. It is a huge complex of buildings, again, high on a hill overlooking the town.

First I took a tour of Argyll’s Lodging, just down the street. I know I went through it last time, but don’t remember if it was in a formal or self guided tour. It will be interesting to compare notes with my previous visit, as very little of it looked familiar. The path we took went through one of the three graveyards just outside the castle complex and there was a large array of Celtic crosses.

I’m sure they’ve done quite a bit of research to determine how some of the rooms may have looked, but they certainly surprised me. I hadn’t expected such bright colors. I knew they were hand weaving tapestries for the Queen’s rooms, so I expected those, but not the paint underneath. I guess my view of what castle interior should look like was much more medieval in nature. It takes a little getting used to, but it does grown on you after a while and, when thinking about the period in history, it probably does fit.

I found the Stirling Heads display fascinating – a series of round medallions that adorned the ceiling in the King’s Inner Hall.  They depict everything from pagan putti to Roman gods; 7 of the 12 worthy’s; and others including King James V himself and his wives.

The ground floor has a series of child-friendly exhibits that allow them to touch, feel, and even smell things from that place and time. There is even a dress-up room where costumes can be worn for pictures. Characters in period costumes roam the royal apartments, playacting their roles as royalty, courtiers, and servants.

There haven’t been many, if any, modifications to the Great Hall or the Chapel Royal, so I didn’t spend much time there. I did go down to have a look at the weaving studio where they’ve been creating some of the tapestries. The first time I saw the process I was inspired to learn how to weave. Of course I need to find a weaving machine first, and then there’s that precious commodity called “spare time” required to learn and practice this craft. It’s still on my to-do list.

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