Thursday, 27 September 2012

Stirling Castle

Such are the vagaries of the Scottish weather that after several days of torrential downpours, flooding and dampness, today brought a dry and sunny day. Great for an outing and I took my mother (who celebrated her 80th birthday yesterday) to Stirling Castle. I was a bit worried about all the steps up and down but she managed very well and we even walked the walls at her insistence. 

And we did so without a coat on, as it was even warm! Above you can see Queen Anne's garden which is within the walls and where the annuals were still putting on a great show. The Queen Anne in question was Anne of Denmark, wife of James VI (or I, if you happen to be English instead of Scottish!). I did try and tell my mother about the ins and outs of Scottish history but I do think the finer points escaped her, and trying to explain it to her made me even more aware of just complicated it is!
 To photograph the entire castle well you have to go quite some distance away and aim your camera high but this is a view upwards from the garden.
 And this is the fabulous view from the walls towards the west
However what I loved most were the Unicorn tapestries which used to hang in the Palace there according to inventories taken in 1539. This prompted Historic Scotland who manage the Castle to commission newly woven ones (made at the premises) to replicate them for the royal lodgings. We are so used to seeing such tapestries very faded and in bad condition but these ones are as they must have been when just made (which of course they are!) and hung, and Scottish Royalty would have admire them looking just like that. The above one is The Unicorn in Captivity. This is the tapestry in its entirety.
But of course I couldn't resist going for the detail! The above dog comes from The Unicorn is Killed and Brought to the Castle.
 And these two fabulous greyhounds are present on The Start of the Hunt.
 Somehow I didn't make a note on which tapestry this heron was placed but oh what a beauty!
 These lovely creatures reside on The Unicorn is found
as does this gorgeous pheasant!
The restorations inside are a bit disconcerting as they are so bright and we're more used to seeing such interiors in faded and delapidated states rather as they must have looked when they were first built. You can see an example at the top of this blog in the shape of a ceiling panel (also my blip for today). I can't quite decide whether I like it but it's certainly interesting and makes you aware of how gaudy (to our modern eyes) the rooms in such castles and palaces must have been. Of course the outside of the building is actually old, and wind and weather have done their worst to the statues some of which are also covered in moss.
This beautiful woman is Mary of Guise, the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots (who sadly lost her head although her son became King of both Scotland and England). Mary of Guise was a French noblewoman, married to James V (his second wife) who managed to preserve the crown of Scotland for her daughter by deft political manoeuvring, much of taking place at Stirling castle. She was a regent for her daughter (who went to France at an early age) from 1554 onwards till her daughter returned to take over the reigns.
Not everything at Stirling castle is full of beauty and grace. The above statue, situated on the South Wall, features the devil. He sports horns as well as wings and has a face carved into his stomach. He also has clawed hands and feet and his tail ends in a mask. I was rather taken with him! Bit of a rude picture though.
We loved seeing all the views in every direction but this was one of my favourites. Looking out over one of the canons towards the Wallace Monument that you can just about see in the distance. In the foreground a cemetary (which as you know I also love to frequent!).

Finally a word of apology, the Journal Quilt for this week as part of my 52 Journals project, will be here tomorrow rather than on Thursday as per usual. I wanted to share the pictures of Stirling Castle on the day I took them!


Anonymous said...

Truly beautiful photographs, very interesting history. Their lives were unpredictable and difficult, I think they needed the beautiful homes and clothes. I enjoy seeing how they lived.

Jewels said...

Frieda that brought memories! I was at 1976 on a backpack trip with my girlfriend at the time LOL it was my high school graduation present from my parents before I headed off to university.... I am sure alot has changed since then. Enjoyed the tour with you. Cheers. J

Lenna Young Andrews said...

I am so impressed with both the outside views and what you found inside. Wow! The tapestry is amazing, I love the dogs. The unicorn immediately reminded me of the quilt you made that wsa featured on your blog for a long time, the beautiful one based on a childhood story you love . . .

Linda said...

What a gorgeous castle... and the tapestries -stunning!! So glad you were able to have a lovely day with your Mom-Happy Birthday to her!


Related Posts with Thumbnails