Edinburgh – Monday and Tuesday

I headed north from Carlisle to Edinburgh and arrived early enough to leave my car at a Park & Ride and take the Bus into town, where I spent a leisurely afternoon strolling down the Royal Mile and doing a tour (self guided audio) of Holyrood House/Palace including the room where the bloodstains from the murder of Mary I’s Italian secretary took place (her husband, Lord Darnley, was a real piece of work – a drunken bastard who got into his head that the secretary was a threat somehow, so he and a whole bunch of drunken friends burst into Mary’s private chambers and stabbed him to death with dozens of blows).

the main Front Entrance to the Palace

Holyrood was originally a Monastery but was much more comfortable than the nominal Royal Palace at the top of the volcanic outcrop incorporated in Edinburgh Castle and so always had rooms (comfortable ones, of course) for Royal guests … and gradually developed into a very nice (and quite comfortable, for the period) Palace … and has been the Royal’s Official Residence in Scotland since, I think, Vickie’s day.

The next day I headed back and headed up the Royal Mile – visiting the National Museum of Scotland which is quite large, perhaps not as large as the British Museum, but pretty darn close. Even confining myself mainly to the North Wing and its examination of Scottish History since the earliest times meant I could only do a survey.

Lots of things. For example, a complete Newcomen Steam engine of the same type as the one in the Powerhouse (and they actually mentioned that!), weapons from the medieval era, relics from Robert the Bruce and William Wallace’s struggle against the bloody Sassenachs, even relics of the Witch hunting craze (somehow RCs were behind it all, in an attempt to undermine the Kirk … these days they’d blame it on the ALP!)

Then off to Edinburgh Castle which was horrendously crowded … and this isn’t even the beginning of the peak tourist season. Cold, windy and exposed – you can easily see why Holyrood House was the preferred residence. Most of it is post-medieval, dating to after the ’45 or even later, but it still feels cold and medieval.

The main (modern – 18th/19th century) Gate to the Inner Bailey of Edinburgh Castle (and, yes, the slope is that steep or steeper all the way up, pretty much … see why Holyrood was preferred?)
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