Edinburgh: the capitol of Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland - June 2-3, 1999
We took the double decker bus into the city center and got off into a crowd of tourists (who'd arrived on their own chartered coaches). The local pipers had a reception waiting for us.
These guys were everywhere. There's nothing like a highland piper to let you know you're in Scotland.
The huge attraction in Edinburgh is the castle. It's huge because it's been there forever (the first mention of 'the stronghold of Eidyn' was from 600AD) and it's been used consistently throughout its history. (There are still buildings you can't visit because they're used for official military business.)
We got dressed for battle complete with cameras, water bottles, sniffle rags (the gray weather wasn't doing wonders for our colds), extra layers of clothes, and the guided tour player.
Before you can enter the castle you have to get past the guards. They are ever vigilant. Every thirty seconds the lead guard calls out "Standby for a patrol for four!!" Don't try climbing the walls while they're on patrol.
To the right you see what likable chaps these guards are when they're off duty. The little girl is Haley on holiday with her mother from England.
The castle was built in many stages on up through the 'modern' period of warfare. Most of these cannons are purely for show, but there is a modern piece of artillery which was doing a 21 gun salute the day we were there for the anniversary of the Queen's ascension. They also blow the gun every day at one o'clock to let the mariners in the harbor synchronize their clocks. (Which also keeps a detatchment regularly employed to fire the gun.)
They proudly showed us the six gates that protect the castle and proclaimed that it was never taken by force. They then showed us the hook where the last guy to surrender the castle (due to lack of food & water) had his head hung to drip dry.
Kathleen is here inside the fourth and fifth gates to the castle.
The large building in the background to the left here is the War Memorial. After WWI they converted this enormous cathedral looking building for a monument to the Scots who died. They never imagined a second World War.
Scotland is a country of only 1.5 million and between the two wars they lost over 200,000 of their young men. Inside is an ark containing books with the names of the fallen. All this in the hopes their names would not be forgotten.
This was one of the most moving sites we'd seen so far.
Across from the War Memorial is the Royal Palace containing the Crown Jewels of Scotland. They were the symbols of office of the kings of Scotland, which were made superfluous in 1707 when Scotland joined with England. As the final official act performed with the jewels, the scepter was touched to the document of unification, and by that act Scotland became part of the UK and the scepter became a part of history.
They were locked away and 'lost' for over one hundred years. No one was sure they hadn't been stolen like so much pharaoh gold. Then in 1818 Sir Walter Scott got parliamentary approval to unblock the room and knock open the chest (by design, the locks had no keys). Ever since, the jewels have been open for public viewing.
But the jewels are not to be handled nor photographed by the public. So for the blind, the Scots prepared these life size bronze replicas outside the Jewel Room. Everyone can feel how large the sword is and imagine the scepter in their hand.
(This little boy is imagining how cool that sword would be for show and tell.)
Finally we walked back outside to the modern world. Edinburgh was the first really big city we'd visited since coming to the UK. We found a cyber cafe which catered to all our desires (except a no smoking section.) Looking around it became clear how much the cyber-revolution is touching regular people. This cafe was hopping with people: women, men, majorities, minorities, young, old, single, and couples. The were busily participating in the global village.
We left Edinburgh after only two days. Our health wasn't good and we were feeling our time was short. (We wanted to catch a Highland game and cultural festival in the countryside.) So we didn't really give the city its due -- there's a lot more we'd have liked to see.
Page || Meet
Kathleen & H. Woods || Purchase
Kathleen's Fine Art Photography || H. Woods' Reading Room
Our Favorite Links ||