As I mentioned in my post about our visit to Doune castle, we bought an explorer pass which also gave us access to Stirling Castle. The children are, like most children, quite into visiting castles so we knew Stirling Castle would be a place for us to visit. I love British history and the importance of places like Stirling Castle never fails to inspire me (and books about the Tudors post-Henry VIII are now firmly on my wishlist – I wish I could read how I used to in years gone by!)
We arrived at Stirling Castle a little before opening time, and there was a small queue, as we had the pre-paid tickets once the gates opened we were able to head straight in. There appeared to be audio guides available like at Doune Castle, but these were paid for at Stirling so we decided to head around with our map.
The Castle is beautiful and we thought we’d head to the children’s area in the Palace Vaults first; a space set up for children to explore and learn about the castle in. This was really good and very hands on. It was split into a number of small rooms, each with a different aspect of castle life to learn about.
Damian and I particularly enjoyed the bit about the Stirling Heads which are just magnificent and the work that has gone into restoring them is breathtaking.
Stirling Castle is a full day out and after the children’s area, we headed into The Royal Palace. This has been sympathetically restored and it gives a real feeling for what life might have been like here in the time of James V. I learnt a lot about Mary Queen of Guise and the children enjoyed talking to the lady in authentic costume – and playing with the football she gave to them. This lady was excellent at keeping the character and chatting away with the visitors and posing for pictures. We made our way through the rest of the Palace and it was just stunning. The Palace is worth a visit for the Stirling Heads alone which are truly spectacular.
We stopped at the onsite cafe for a quick coffee and we shared a couple of blueberry muffins which were delicious before heading back to take a look at the Great Hall and the Queen Anne Gardens before eating our picnic. Emma enjoyed these gardens and spent a lot of time taking pictures of the flowers with my camera.
We had a good wander around the various spaces, including the kitchens which are huge! They’ve made a really good job of setting up the kitchens to make it as it would have been and the models there give you a really good idea and feeling for just what a bustling space in the castle it would have been.
Despite there being a decent number of people at the castle it didn’t feel overly busy which was good. The children enjoyed seeing the castle and I hope when we come to learn more about the Tudors and that era of history they’ll remember some of their time here.
Stirling Castle is wonderfully preserved and is excellently set up for families – there’s enough space for children to run and let off steam as well as plenty of exhibits that are pitched at their level. It is equally engaging for adults and our visit there has sparked an interest for me in James V and the Monarchs that followed him.