Stirling Castle - a peek inside the restored Hall and Palace
Back in 1963 when I first visited Stirling Castle as a (very) young man it housed a garrison. Officers occupied the Palace and other ranks were based in the Great Hall. The ditch housed the gym and 'war emergency' buildings were still standing 20 years after the war had ended.
By my next visit in 1966 the army had gone and the Great Hall was undergoing restoration - little did I know that it would be a further 40 years before I would see its completion!
There was a mood at the time - still held by some today - that a building should not be 'restored' but left in its final state to exhibit all its transformations as witness to its history. If this philosophy had been followed at Stirling we would find, not the Great Hall and Palace of King James V, but barrack blocks with inserted walls, floors, staircases and widows; fire escapes; heating pipes; row upon row of iron bedsteads and ablution facilities all of which I was privy to back in 1966.
As testament to the positive benefits of faithful restoration, Stirling, after Edinburgh, is now the most visited castle in Scotland attracting tourists by the busload.
It was decided that the Palace would be restored to reflect the time of Marie de Guise, widow of James V and Queen Regent of Scotland.
You can find out more about Stirling Castle's history and its magnificent restoration on this website - click here.
The mystery of the missing heads
Ten of the heads are still missing - notably that of Francis I of France - so if anyone out there ....