Dominating Edinburgh, there has been a castle up on the craggy rock since the 12th century, with buildings up there before that. Originally a fortified royal palace, then a military barracks with prison cells, the oldest building is Queen Margaret’s Chapel. The largest cannon in Britain, Mons Meg, is here too. The castle has been so important in the various wars of independence that it is said to be “the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world”.
Up on the tallest part of the rock itself, there is a casket containing the Rolls of Honour of the names of 147.000 Scottish soldiers killed in the First World War, with other lists available for visitors to read located throughout the Scottish National War Memorial, sadly, by necessity, kept up to date with a further 50,000 names added from the Second World War and further wars as names continue to be added even today. Kept up to date, it also reflects recent changes in regimental reorganisations and titles.
The Memorial was opened in 1927, reconstructed in an existing barrack block around the quadrangle with the royal apartments in the adjacent buildings. London has its Cenotaph; Edinburgh has this beautiful Memorial, where it is fascinating to explore the individual monuments and also the stained glass windows by the well-known Scottish artist Douglas Strachan, which tell the story of those involved in the First World War with airships, troops at war, troops lining up to board their ship to go across the sea and buglers calling the troops to action or the last post for the evening, not the sort of images you would normally see in stained glass but a fascinating history of the War and of 1920′s art and architecture.