Edinburgh Castle’s ancient Star Spangled Banner

Edinburgh Castle is home to one of the earliest depictions of the US flag.
Edinburgh Castle is home to one of the earliest depictions of the US flag.
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Edinburgh Castle has played a pivitol role in many aspects of Scottish culture and history, however, visitors to the iconic landmark may not be aware of the astonishing piece of US history tucked away in the Castle.

Dating from the late 18th century, the unique American artefact can be found etched on to the doors of the Castle’s historic vaults, which, at that time would have held prisoners ranging from pirates, suspected witches and Jacobites.

The vaults also held French, American and Spanish prisoners captured during the American Revolutionary War, with the castle serving as a prison from 1757 to thousands of military prisoners from the Seven Years War, the American Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars

Countless prisoners would graffiti the doors of the gloomy vaults, occupying time before waiting for trial or transportation, often scratching their names or leaving behind their own personal illustrations.

Howver, it is on the panel of one of the doors to the vaults that a unique piece of American history can be found.

Carved into the door of the vaults is what is believed to be the earliest depiction of the Star-Spangled Banner this side of the Atlantic.

It is thought that the carving was created in 1780, three years before the end of the American War of Independence. Records do not reveal the prisoner responsible for the carving.

The door to the vaults can still be seen at the Prisons of War exhibition.