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Stirling Castle: Cradle of Scottish Monarchs

The Gothic-inspired masterpiece is one of the most famous and recognisable in the land.

Scotland has a long history of child kings and infant queens. Mary, Queen of Scots was just six days old when she became queen at the end of her father James V's reign, which began when he was only seventeen months old.

Mary's son, James, the sixth of his name in Scotland and first in England, was thirteen months old when his reign began.

The miniscule ages of its succession of monarchs meant the Stuart's hold on the Scottish throne was tenuous and always under threat.

Standing strong amidst the turmoil, already three centuries old by this era, was Stirling Castle:

Stirling Castle is the largest and most important royal lodging, in equal parts fortress and palace, in Scotland. Built upon Castle Hill, Stirling looms regally over the central Scottish city of the same name.

Surrounded on three sides by treacherous rocky cliffs, the castle possesses a strong strategic position against attack. Good thing, since it endured at least eight sieges over the centuries before sitting relatively peacefully since 1746.

Imagine attempting to steal this away from its royal owners:

Stirling was occupied by the English for a brief time at the breakout of the first of the Wars of Scottish Independence, but was retaken by the Scots with the victory of the storied Sir William Wallace at the Battle of Stirling Bridge.

Stirling's gatehouse was destroyed the next year by Edward I of England's massive trebuchet Warwolf, believed to be the largest ever built to this day. Still, Edward died before his siege of the castle was complete, leaving the legendary Robert the Bruce the King of Scots.

In addition to being fought over and changing hands many times during its long reign, Stirling Castle has also seen several renovations, undergoing near-constant change between the 15th and 18th centuries.

Currently under the command of James Erskine, 14th Earl of Mar, Stirling Castle is open to the public.

Check out episode 1.05 of Secrets of Great British Castles on Netflix for a complete history of this stunning Scottish jewel.

The castle even graced the cover of the first edition of my novel Sons of Kings: The Siege, back when it was called The Second Sons.

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