Sitting atop volcanic rock some 260ft above the city, Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline and proudly stands its ground as Scotland’s most iconic UK attraction. The site of Edinburgh Castle was occupied as long ago as 900BC, and by the time the Roman Legions made their brief forays into Scotland in AD80 and AD139 the site was already inhabited and used as a fort by an ancient Celtic tribe – the Votadini – who called it Din Eidyn.
In AD638 Din Eidyn was put under siege and then captured by the Angles, who Anglicised the name to Edinburgh and remained in control until they were forced out by the Scots in 1018. Between the 12th and 15th centuries, the fort at the site of Edinburgh Castle began to develop as a royal residence, while it changed hands between the English and the Scots throughout successive confrontations.
During the Stewart Dynasty Edinburgh Castle grew in importance and under James III Edinburgh Castle was extended and began to serve as a permanent royal residence. The Stewarts also built the Palace at Holyrood House, which became their permanent home while Edinburgh Castle became a dedicated military fortress and a shelter for the Scottish royals during times of trouble.
Edinburgh Castle has always been at the centre of Edinburgh life, and as such the city has grown out from it with the first houses built beneath Edinburgh Castle on the thoroughfare known as Lawmarket. Housing continued to be built down the High Street and down Cannongate, linking up with the palace at Holyrood House – collectively these streets are known as The Royal Mile.
Events at the castle include the daily firing of the one-o’clock cannon; the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, an annual display of military sets from around the world; Classical and pop music concerts; daily performances by costumed characters as kings and queens of Scotland, and even an executioner, all regaling tales of Edinburgh Castle’s long and colourful history
A trip to Edinburgh is not complete without a visit to Edinburgh Castle, but Edinburgh has plenty to offer in its Georgian streets that have been Given World Heritage Site status. Over a million people flock to Edinburgh every year to participate in the Edinburgh Fringe - a fringe-theatre festival that engulfs the whole city. The Edinburgh Comedy Festival also takes over the city every summer, and as the year comes to a close, the streets of Edinburgh are packed with revellers who come to party away the old year and welcome in the new. Edinburgh Castle is always at the centre of these events, symbolically reinforcing the city’s identity and proud traditions.
Edinburgh Castle opening times
09:30 – 18:00 / 1 April - 30 September
09:30 - 17:00 / 1 October - 31 March
Edinburgh Castle Facts