Stirling

At last I finally get to catch my breath after the hubbub that was this past week. Amidst packing, preparing for my exam, and sight seeing with my mother, I have barely had any time to reflect on what is actually occurring.

After completing my final exam of the year, I had some down time before I needed to journey back home. So, last Saturday my mother and I hopped on a bus and travelled to Stirling, as per a family friend’s recommendation. The bus ride there was incredible enough; we went around the base of a large hill painted in spring’s yellow flowers, through several wee hamlets that were so charming. I think my favorite town name is Pool o’ Muckhart, it sounds as if it belongs in one of the Celtic myths I habitually read.

Stirling Castle was our primary destination, and what a fantastic one it was! Known for the many additions made by James IV and James V of Scotland, Stirling Castle is a very important historical sight. You can also see the Wallace Monument from the castle. The castle is absolutely incredible, and its grandeur was heightened by the lovely spring weather we were fortunate enough to have. I really enjoy Stirling Castle because nearly all of it is open to the public, whereas Edinburgh Castle only has a few rooms open for exploration. Also, photography is permitted within Stirling Castle, whereas it is heavily regulated by grumpy overseers at other historical sights. I think having such a free rein to enjoy the castle without sassy workers made the experience more enjoyable, since it allowed us to explore at our own pace without the constant worry of causing offense.

Festooned with unicorns, the national animal of Scotland, and boasting its own lion’s den, Stirling Castle had many unique quirks that made it very memorable. I think the most magical aspect, though, was the replica of one of my favorite pieces of art hanging in the queen’s chambers, The Hunt of the Unicorn tapestry. Though not the original, the replica is handmade by a team of weavers who spend two years completing each panel. The level of talent invested in the incredible detail of the tapestry is truly awe-inspiring. I think what makes it so intriguing is the mille-fleurs technique, or “thousand flowers”, which makes up the tapestry’s background. There is just so much to look at with this technique in mind, and each tapestry’s background is different, with new little easter eggs tucked in with all the unique and individual flowers. When gazing at this piece of art, human creativity and artistic talent almost overwhelm you.

Stirling Castle and its surrounding grounds are truly wonderful, and I highly recommend it to any looking for various adventures in Scotland. Also, the fact that I got to go to such a lovely place with my mother made it all the more incredible. As one of my last grand adventures in Scotland in my first year, I would say this was a fine finale.

Originally written 29 May 2013

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