My Weekend in Edinburgh

Yes, that title is correct. On Thursday it was decided that another student in the class, Tom, and I would go to Edinburgh for the weekend. The reason? I didn’t have anything planned and it sounded like fun. That’s one of the great things about being over here in England. You have the weekend off and you can just jump on a train and go somewhere completely different. To take the train up it was only 4- 1/2 hours which left plenty of time to get the weeks assignment completed and to fully enjoy the weekend ahead.

It was decided that we would go see Edinburgh Castle on the Saturday and go to the national Scottish Museum on the Sunday. We left on Friday evening after the trip to Hereford, and I actually wrote the last post about Hereford on the train ride up as well. On Saturday morning we walked to old town Edinburgh in the rough direction of the castle and once we saw this we decided we were going in the right direction.

DSC01643

The castle opened up at 9:30 and we were right there when the gates opened up. The castle was an impressive complex to visit. It doesn’t follow the necessarily stereotypical form of an old castle with high walls with battlements and a drawbridge, but it wasn’t a summer cottage either. It had all the walls, cannons, gates, barracks, residences, you would expect, but to me it seemed like a fort, rather than a true medieval castle. But I’m not nearly an expert on castles, so I could be missing something. Once inside the castle, this is what you can see.

Edinburgh Castle is situated on top of an extinct volcano and had been shaped by the last ice age. These created a natural rocky high point that overlooked what became the city of Edinburgh. The castle was a really historic place to visit. At the castle numerous events had taken place and it has gone through much change over it’s lifetime. Buildings have been added, restored, and changed.

Also at the castle are museums about the Scottish military. Two I believe are to certain regiments of the army that resided at the castle, and one is the Scottish military museum. Going to a museum that you don’t have any real prior knowledge of it’s contents can be very interesting, but this museum was mostly focused on the “modern” conflicts that date to when the castle existed. Meaning there was not too much information about the old Scottish Celt wars before 1100 or the old Scottish Roman conflicts. But still was informative and always nice to get a different view on conflicts.

Another item that was on exhibit at the castle was Mons Meg.

DSC01676

This cannon shot 300lbs balls up to a few miles. It was used to destroy Castle walls and given to various people as birthday gifts. You have to love the medieval period.

Some other parts of the castle are the following:

DSC01675

DSC01685

Royal residence

DSC01688

Great Hall

DSC01689

Great Hall wall decoration

DSC01690

Great Hall accent pieces

The last bit we did at the castle was to go see the Scotland Crown Jewels. No pictures were allowed (obviously), but they would be worth a google search to see what they look like. Very ornate and brash as one would expect something Scottish to be.

The rest of the day we toured around the old part of Edinburgh seeing all the old buildings and going into the shops, many of which turned out to be whiskey shops. Although the only tasting that happened was at the castle oddly enough.

On Sunday we went to the National Scotland Museum. The museum had exhibits from Scottish history, to arts and culture, technology, and natural history. It was mostly what could be considered “general” museum artifacts to have, but there were some highlights. They had an exhibit on the Polynesian Islands and the connection with the British Empire, a special exhibit on the Celts, and Dolly the sheep.

After the museum we caught our train back to Coventry and ended the excursion to Scotland. One other thing I forgot to mention until now is Saturday night for dinner we went to a bar and had some haggis. And it was pretty good. It was nicely spiced and served with mashed potatoes, both regular and sweet, and tasted pretty much like a shepherds pie.

All in all it was a very pleasant weekend. I got to see more of the UK than was planned and see and try new things. But one thing struck me on the train ride home that is both totally separate, and yet the same from what this course is about. This realization was that the train was passing through Hadrian’s wall. Hadrian’s wall was built in the 2nd C. AD as a marker of the extent of the Roman Empire. To me why this is relevant is because of what  the wall signifies. One is that the Romans knew England and Scotland were separate, yet the architecture is relatively the same. The Normans built buildings in both places, and the English and Scottish buildings are done in the same exact style in the same periods. This is not unique, the English took ideas from France and Germany about their architecture, but if you didn’t know, you could assume you are in England when you are in Scotland, or the other way around. How the wall fits into this is because the Romans made the distinction between the two countries as being different (for many different reasons, not only architecture), but the two countries practiced and traded the same architecture. The second is a little less obvious but still relevant. The wall is a concrete, tangible conception of the Roman Empire. Maps are made and lines are drawn, but coming up to this wall is a clear indicator of the vastness of the Romans. Their empire stretched from the wall to the Mid-East. The wall is Rome (Hadrian) putting it’s foot down and putting this construction up as a marker of Rome’s presence in a far off land. This is exactly what some of the architecture that I am looking at is about. Especially with the Normans, the presence of the churches and non secular buildings are a marker of the extent of their empire. That is all I will get into know, but I will leave it with you if you want to ponder it some more.

Here is a picture of a carousel.

DSC01709

2 thoughts on “My Weekend in Edinburgh

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s