Stirling Castle – Travelling Back in Time

A recent visit to Stirling Castle took me back in time to the 16th century and the Court of James V. The Royal Palace has recently been restored and was opened on 6th June this year.

Mary of Guise Apartments
Mary of Guise Apartments

The rooms have been painstakingly restored to their former glory and many of the characters of the time are represented by modern day staff.

Renaissance Theme

James V’s Palace at Stirling is one of the best-preserved Renaissance buildings in the United Kingdom. The decoration in the rooms is colourful and flamboyant, befitting the trend in the renaissance period. Bright colours were a part of the Renaissance.

The decoration represented the power of the monarchy and was found in the interior and exterior of the building.The Palace is divided into a series of apartments for the King, Queen and the various guests who visited the Palace.

Stirling Heads (reproduction)
Stirling Heads (reproduction)

Stirling Heads

Some of the walls are covered with hand-woven tapestries and there are many hand-made items of furniture. The ceiling of one room contains hand-painted replicas of the Stirling Heads (carved oak portraits) which were from James V’s time.

Some of the original Stirling Heads are on display in glass cabinets but the original colours have faded and they are now the original colour of the oak, from which they are made.

They  are beautiful 16th-century carvings showing kings, queens, heroes and people from the royal court, including a poet and a jester. The heads originally decorated the ceiling of the King’s Inner Hall and at least one other apartment in the royal palace at Stirling Castle.

Stirling Head (Reproduction)
Stirling Head (Reproduction)

Each oak medallion – or roundel – was hand-carved by skilled craftsmen. A total of 34 have survived the centuries since their creation sometime after 1530.

There is nothing quite like them anywhere else in the world. One of the most important parts of the palace project is to put the Stirling Heads on display in their own gallery.

People from the Past

Important people from the Palace include James V, his wife, Mary of Guise, daughter, Mary queen of Scots as a child and the staff from the Palace.

History is brought to life by the staff who are dressed in historical costume and who will talk about life in the palace and the Royal Family.

Lady Janet Fleming, Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen Mother and Governess to the young Mary Queen of Scots will discuss life in the royal household and some of the servants will explain aspects of house-keeping. Life was much harder for domestic staff in the 16th century.

Stuart Monarchy

Stirling Castle Royal Gardens
Stirling Castle Royal Gardens

Stirling Castle dates from the 12th Century and is associated with the Stuart Monarchy. The Stuarts inherited the English throne in 1603 on the death of Queen Elizabeth I of England, when James VI of Scotland became James I of England. It is now in the care of Historic Scotland and has been restored to its former glory.

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