Today we explore Stirling! We’re a bit early, so we take it easy on the walk up to the castle. We walk around the old jail, get some information from the tourist office and then walk inside the castle just in time to follow one of the free guided tours. It’s still pretty cold, maybe 10° C, and the weather forecast promises a rain free day so we’ve left our rain jackets behind. A woolly hat and a down jacket are certainly not superfluous but I hope the sun will bring some warmth soon. The friendly tour guide assures me that snow would not be unusual, even in April.
The tour takes out from the outer bailey to the king’s court with the Great Hall (beautiful reconstructed oak roof construction), Chapel Royal and gives us a general introduction to the history of Scottish kings and queens, which I found very helpful since until now I only knew snippets. The highlight of the visit for me was the wooden heads on the ceiling of the king’s palace: the originals are in the museum but in the hall itself you can see replica’s painted in realistic colours. There is also an interesting video showing what the palace interior might have looked like originally. I’ve seen this before in a few other old buildings where they found traces of the original plastering and painting: they really liked bright, gaudy colours to show their wealth.
We walk down to the station (we try a short cut through the mall and end up going through a car park to escape) and cross the tracks to find the Engine Shed, a free exposition of the Historic Environment Scotland. We use the augmented reality map to look at different sites of historical interest, try out ancient building techniques and see a short documentary about how 3D imaging is used to study and preserve the sites. There is also an interesting time line showing the evolution of buildings from the oldest known in Scotland from pre-historic times to the newest projects like the new bridge over the Firth of Forth, which we’ll cross one of the coming days just to get a view of the Forth Bridge.