fun things to do with kids stirling scotland   Travel for Kids
Scotland
   
     
   

Stirling

stirling castle forework
Stirling is the site of two great battles in Scottish history: Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn. During the Middle Ages, the Scots and English fought for 60 years – Stirling Castle was a prize for both sides. In 1297, William Wallace had a small force, but he lured English knights across Stirling Bridge, split their army, and won the day. Robert the Bruce, King of the Scots, set the scene for the English army to get bogged down, literally, at Bannockburn. Traveling to Stirling with kids, step into Scotland centuries ago.
Stirling Castle Photo Album
   

Stirling Castle –

    Not at all a crumbly castle, Stirling Castle is a jewel of Scottish castle construction. It sits on a rock promontory overlooking the valley below, and was attacked over and over in the Middle Ages. William Wallace took the castle from the English, but seven years later King Edward I successfully besieged the great fortress with a huge war machine, called "War Wolf."
stirling castle
    Stirling Castle was also a royal residence where the Stuarts lived in style. In the 1600's James V and Mary of Guise (parents of Mary Queen of Scots) created a Renaissance palace with painted and carved ceilings, walls decorated with fine tapestries, rooms for music and dancing. As a baby, Mary Queen of Scots was crowned in Stirling Castle. Today Stirling Castle is gorgeously restored and kid-friendly with hands-on activities in the "Vaults."
    Tip: On the Scottish royal coat of arms are two white unicorns. As kids explore the castle, see how many unicorns you can find.
    Moat and Outer Gate –Walking over the dry moat, notice the square holes where archers could hide, and shoot at any soldiers attacking the outer walls of the castle.
    Castle Exhibition – Start here to get an overview the castle history over centuries, and learn about the fascinating discovery of two skeletons, a medieval knight and a woman, who died around the 1300's after a battle, and were buried in the castle.
hands on activities
    Forework and Grand Battery – Walk through the gate, flanked by two round towers, look into dark rooms at the base of the towers, (see how thick the walls are, arrow loops are openings to shoot at invaders). Then kids can climb up the stairs to the tower ramparts and look out over the valley. The Grand Battery, a whole row of shiny black cannons, was the primary defense of the castle.
    Castle Kids – Head to the Vaults for hands-on activities. Kids can play Renaissance musical instruments (drums, harp, clavichord), try on costumes, learn the best jokes to be a good jester.
    Princes Tower – Go up and along the Princes Walk to the Princes Tower, where the kings of Scotland were taught by their tutors. Mary Queen of Scots noted that when her son James VI was a boy, this room was cold and damp.
    Royal Palace – The palace has been restored to recreate rooms during the time of James V and Mary of Guise; the king and queen had separate sets of rooms. Walk through the King's Outer Chamber (fancy suit of French armor), the King's Inner Hall (ceiling is covered with painted medallions in brilliant colors), and King's Bedchamber (large white unicorn over the fireplace). In the Queen's Bedchamber, the walls are lavishly covered in brocade. Next door, the Queen's Inner Hall is covered with seven unicorn tapestries (these tapestries are new and were woven in the castle to replicate original castle tapestries).
    Great Hall – A huge space, there is where feasts, dancing and state events were held. It has five fireplaces, one right behind the table for the king and queen. The windows are decorated with coats of arms of Scottish nobles.
great kitchen
    Great Kitchen – When kings and queens put on big banquets, there were many elaborate dishes, including peacock or swan. In the Great Kitchen, see a re-creation of a feast in the making - baking bread, chopping vegetables, roasting meats, finished dishes ready to serve. Kids can check out recipes - the steamed golden custard looked tasty.
    Nether Bailey – Walk through the 14th century North Gate and imagine the portcullis grate which would have dropped down to deter any invaders. The bailey is an enclosed area with a guardhouse and powder magazine, where barrels of gunpowder were stored.
    Picnic area and cafe – The Unicorn cafe has sandwiches and cold drinks, or bring a picnic. Picnic tables are available on the terrace outside the cafe, and in the Nether Bailey.
      Tip: Stirling Castle is easy day trip from Edinburgh. If you take the train, it's less than an hour, and a short walk from the train station up to the castle.
robert the bruce
 

Battle of Bannockburn – After several years of skirmishing with the English, in 1314 Robert the Bruce led his troops to victory at the Battle of Bannockburn. Today the battlefield is peaceful, but you just have to imagine 25,000 English and Scots on horses and on foot, in hand-to-hand combat. Check out the new Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre, with a 3-D multimedia battle re-creation.

  National Wallace Monument William Wallace in 1297 whomped the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Wallace organized his force on Abbey Craig, engaged the English army into crossing Stirling Bridge, then attacked. Visit the Wallace Monument to see Wallace's huge broadsword, then climb up to the top of the monument for panoramic views. Take time to walk on Abbey Craig - the Stirling Trail with a view point to Stirling Castle or longer Abbey Trail, where kids can imagine the Scots on the hill more than 700 years ago.
kids books scotland
     
 

Illustrated biographies of two legendary heroes of Scotland – William Wallace led the Scots to victory at Stirling Bridge; the warrior king Robert the Bruce battled the English and trounced them here at Bannockburn. Lots of details of the battles here at Stirling. Good for older kids. (Illustrated chapter books)

 

(More children's books on other Scotland pages)
travel for kids | scotland | stirling & stirling castle
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