Edinburgh Castle has loomed over the capital city since the 12th century. Today, it is one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions and a must-see during any trip to Edinburgh. Discover six fascinating facts about Edinburgh Castle here.
Located at the top of the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle is one of the most fascinating castles in Scotland. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has played a key role in Scotland’s politics, conflicts and Royalty throughout the centuries so it’s no wonder it has its fair share of interesting facts. From ghostly musical sightings to its very own dog cemetery, here are six fascinating facts about Edinburgh Castle:
1. It sits atop an extinct volcano
Overlooking the city of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Castle sits atop the plug of an extinct volcano called Castle Rock. Not to worry, the ragged crag it stands on was formed after an eruption nearly 350 million years ago and is at no risk of erupting ever again. The summit of the castle is 130 metres above sea level and with rocky cliffs to the south, west and north, it was the ideal place to build a military stronghold.
2. The Scottish Crown jewels were lost at Edinburgh Castle for over a century
The Scottish Crown Jewels, known as the ‘Honours of Scotland’, were worn by Scottish kings and queens at their coronations. Kept in Edinburgh Castle from the 15th and 16th centuries, the jewels were locked away in a chest after the 1707 Treaty of Union between Scotland and England. They lay forgotten about for over a century until they were rediscovered by Sir Walter Scott in 1818. They have been on continuous display in the castle ever since, except for during World War II when they were locked away as a precaution against possible German invasion.
3. It’s been under siege more than any other castle in the UK
Taking centre stage in many Scottish conflicts, Edinburgh Castle has been besieged more times than any other castle in the UK. The last attempt was in 1745, when the Jacobite army took the city, but failed to take over the castle. Look out for Mons Meg during your visit, the 15th century siege gun is displayed on a terrace in front of St. Margaret’s Chapel (the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh).
4. It has a dog cemetery
Located off the main path at the top of Edinburgh Castle you will find a small garden which holds a dog cemetery. Dating back to 1837, the small graveyard has about 20 headstones and is dedicated to canines that belonged to Scottish battalions. The cemetery is off limits to visitors but can be seen from the Argyle Battery above.
5. It’s one of the most haunted castles in the world
Like many historic castles around the world, Edinburgh Castle has a reputation for being haunted. One spooky story tells the tale of a piper who went down to explore the tunnels and played music on his bagpipes so that the people above could map out the passages. However, the music abruptly stopped, and he reportedly disappeared within the walls. According to the tale, his ghostly piping can still be heard from beneath the castle today.
6. It was once home to an elephant
In the 19th century, the Edinburgh Highlanders returned to the city after a long posting in Sri Lanka with an elephant in tow. A mascot for the soldiers, the elephant headed the regimental parades and marching bands. And in true Scottish style, he supposedly developed a taste for beer during his time at the castle and would stick his trunk in the canteen window for a pint before bed. The elephant’s toes are currently displayed in the National War Museum within the castle grounds.