Saturday, 24 June 2017

Storming The Castle Again

It's been a frustrating day fro a couple of reasons today. This is not to say it has been a bad day. In fact it's been a pretty good day for the most part. It's sort of a bookend thing, with the start of the day where I discovered that my computer will no longer do a network connection, to the end of the day, which you will discover at the end of this blog post. The computer thing is going to be a real challenge. No computer, no blog.

We went to Stirling Castle, a key Scottish cultural and historic site. Built on a high crag, Stirling Castle, like most castles in this part of the world, has been built over time, added to, destroyed in wars, rebuilt and rebuilt again. The earliest recorded buildings on Stirling Crag, these days called Castle Hill, go back to around 1100 AD, but there are reasonable claims that the Romans built a fort on the hill, as did earlier Scottish and Pictish rulers.

Exploring the castle was a bit wearing while we were on outdoor pathways, as they were all cobbled, and not well cobbled. Inside, however, the floors are all slate, smooth and well linked. The buildings themselves cover nearly a thousand years of construction, the older embattlements beomg laid down beginning in the 12 century. Then came the 13th century, an unlucky one, for this saw the beginning of what became 60 years of war for Scottish independence from England. The castle changed hands several times, with each change bringing destruction and rebuilding.

After the Scots won the wars, the castle became a truly important centre of culture and political administration. It also became the home of the Stewart dynasty. James IV turned it into a centre of culture, a renaissance castle. James IV unwisely decided to attack England and ended up dead for his efforts, leaving his infant son, James V, to grow up in the castle and complete the massive works and designs.

Mary, Queen of Scots, often confused with Bloody Mary who was Mary 1 of England, lead a rather florid and questionable life in the castle and was eventually sent to ransom to her cousin, Elizabeth I of England, who ultimately had her beheaded. Not a lucky family, the Stewarts. Fortunately, Mary Queen of Scot's son was there to take the throne, albeit as an infant, remaining to live in Stirling Castle. It is a twist of irony and fate that James IV if Scotland inherited the English throne when Elizabeth died. He moved to London, and stayed there.

After all of that indulgence I wanted to see the National Wallace Monument. So David once again loaded me into the car and off we drove, only to discover that the National Wallace Monument has absolutely NO wheelchair access, no way, no how. When asked why this was so, the ticket vendor said" They didn't think about wheelchairs in 1869." Surely some things have changed since then, but not wheelchair access for the Scottish National Monument of Shame.

So we left, me frustrated to tears, David not quite as upset, but certainly upset on my behalf. Frustration. It's life in the chair. But we had fun storming the castle.

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