Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 4 in Edinburgh

Oh my word it was so cold today! The wind was freezing us! Jonah and I went to Edinburgh Castle today after his morning nap. It was so interesting! The castle is on the top of the hill at the beginning of the street. Jonah and I took the free tour to learn all about the castle and its origins, so here is your Scottish history lesson for the day! (mostly for me so I will remember our trip)

The castle was built on the top of a hill in the 12th century by the Scottish King Malcolm (I cannot keep all these kings straight!) This king is the son of the Malcolm who killed Macbeth, and who the play of MacBeth is based on. The English took it in the 13th century, but it was reclaimed by King Edward. He recognized that he couldn't hold it from the English so he burned the whole thing down so they couldn't have it! It was rebuilt in the 1300s with only the chapel of the original structure remaining. The crown jewels are kept in the Castle, which was really cool but kind of pale in comparison to the English crown jewels, no offense. The history is interesting though. The crown jewels are believed to date back to the 800s when they crowned the first Scottish king and contain the crown, the scepter, and the sword, but the current ones are from the 1500s (still the oldest crown jewels in Britain). The "Honours of Scotland" also includes the Stone of Scone, which is just a big rock that the new King used to sit on to get coronated. Some people say it is the stone of Jacob, from the bible. I see why the Scots hate those English, though. In the 1200s, the English took the stone and kept it in Westminster Abbey under the throne to symbolize that they were powerful over Scotland. Can you imagine? That's like if the British took the Declaration of Independence and put it under the throne to say they were still powerful over America. The stone was only returned to Scotland in 1996 by Queen Elizabeth, who I guess figured she might as well let them have their rock back if it was so important.

The jewels stayed at the castle until they were smuggled out in the 1600s to protect them from Oliver Cromwell. They were finally returned in the early 1700s when it was decided that Scotland was under English rule and part of the UK. The crown goes to open Parliament when Queen Elizabeth is in town. I suppose they actually belong to her now, although the Scots are adament that the crown jewels stay in Scotland. I feel like they are saying, "Okay you can pretend like they are yours if it makes you happy, but they are staying here."

The Castle also contains a barracks where the prisoners of the "American war of Independence" were kept. It took me a while to realize that the Castle would have been under British control at that point in our history! We were fighting for our Independence from the English, and Scotland had tried and won and tried and failed many times already. All the dates for the end of British reign over America were 1781, when the British officially released control over America. I thought that was funny because we learn in school the date 1776, when the Decleration of Independence was signed and we declared our own independence. I thought it was funny how we learn 2 seperate dates depending on how we look at it.

Sadly no pictures because I forgot my camera. I know! I'm not used to it, usually Ted takes the pictures but he was stuck in some classroom somewhere. But probably warm, though.

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