10 lesser known facts about Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is one of Scotland's leading tourist attractions and has a long history.

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL

The castle has stood since the 12th century and remained the Scottish Royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1603. A formidable sight in the city, it is one of the most popular attractions in Edinburgh, but how much do you know about it? From losing the crown jewels to superstitions and links to pirates, here are some lesser known facts about Edinburgh Castle.

Archaeologists have found evidence that there were early settlers on top of castle rock since the Bronze Age or 850 BCE - making it one of the longest continually inhabited sites in Scotland.
Queen Margaret married the Scottish king Malcolm III around 1070. After she died her son built the chapel in her memory. When Robert the Bruce laid siege in 1314, he had every building destroyed except this one.
Lady Glamis stood trial accused of using witchcraft against King James V. He had her servants tortured until they confessed to their mistress being a witch. She was burnt at the stake just outside the castle walls.
In 1715, the Jacobites were determined to overthrow the throne. One night, the Jacobites tried to storm the castle using a ladder. The ladder proved to be too short, leaving the Jacobite rebellions stranded where they were discovered and arrested.
In particular by a ghost of a piper who was sent down to investigate tunnels under the royal mile. When the music suddenly stopped playing, a search party was sent down to retrieve him, however he was never found.
Having spent a significant part of its history as an army fortress, the castle has housed many prisoners.These include 21 pirates of the Caribbean who were found guilty of piracy and hung off the coast of Leith.
After the unification of the crowns, the Scottish crown jewels no longer had any significant part to play in the newly formed British government. These Honours of Scotland were locked away and all but forgotten about.


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While its not really a fact, many University of Edinburgh students hold it to be one. Legend has it that any student of the university who passes through the castle gates will fail their final examinations.
In the War Memorial room, opened to the public in 1927, there is a stained glass window which contains the symbol and this fragment from enemy aircraft.
King James IV liked to spy on his subjects in the Great Hall through a window by the fireplace. Mikhail Gorbachev was set to visit the castle in 1984 and the Soviet secret service asked that it be bricked up for security reasons.