Edinburgh Castle has overlooked the City for hundreds of years, and become one of the UK’s most celebrated tourist attractions… but how much do you really know about Scotland’s favourite castle?

 

1. It’s built on top of a volcano

The rock the castle sits on was formed after a volcanic eruption around 340 million years ago.

 

The Castle sits on volcanic rock, shaped by an eruption.
The Castle sits on volcanic rock, shaped by an eruption.

2. It doesn’t make a very good prison

Edinburgh Castle’s vaults were used to house prisoners of war during the Napoleonic Wars and the American Wars of Independence. After 49 prisoners escaped through a hole in the wall in 1811, the authorities decided the castle didn’t actually make a very good prison.

 

edinburgh-castle-side

 

 

3. It’s haunted

No surprises here really. The castle’s most famous ghost is that of the lone piper, who disappeared in the castle’s tunnels. Legend has it you can still hear his pipes from the grounds. Legend also says that students at the University of Edinburgh should not pass through the gates, or they will fail their final exams. We’ll leave that one with you.

 

Dangerous ground for students... apparently. Edinburgh Castle gates.
Dangerous ground for students… apparently. Edinburgh Castle gates.

 

4. It has a very, very big gun

The castle is home to Mons Meg Cannon, a medieval super-gun that fires cannon balls weighing up to 400 pounds, and roughly three times the size of a human head. The gun is looked after exclusively by a man named ‘Shannon the Cannon’.

 

Not a great idea. Mols Meg cannon fires balls 3 times the size of a human head. Image: Nealea, Flickr.
Not a great idea. Mols Meg cannon fires balls 3 times the size of a human head. Image: Nealea, Flickr.

 

5. It contains a ‘Stone of Destiny’.

The stone of destiny (also known as the Stone of Scone) is a traditional ‘coronation stone’, that wars have been fought over between England and Scotland for centuries. Rumours persist that the stone that now resides in the castle is, in fact, a fake. So if you were thinking of heading up to Edinburgh for a lucky rub, you might be out of luck.

 

More than just masonry. The Stone of Scone is part of the Scottish Crown jewels, and in no way connected to the Holy Stone of Clonrichert.
More than just masonry. The Stone of Scone is part of the Scottish Crown jewels. Image: jrid.com

 

Contributors: Chris Lomas