gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


UK Trip Day 13: July 9, 2003

July 09, 2003 @ 15:50 By: gordon Category: Travelling, UK Trip 2003

Today I toured around Edinburgh. I bought a ticket for a hop on-hop off bus tour. It was
very interesting, though at one point the sky got quite dark and there were a few rain drops.
The tour guide yelled at the rain and it went away, though.

I hopped off once along the Royal Mile and prowled around there for a bit. I hopped on the
next bus that came along and rejoined the tour.

The buses are open-top double decker buses, so the view is quite impressive.

Among the sights we saw was a statue to commemorate the visit of George IV to Scotland in 1822.
It flatters him, though, because in real life he was close to 400 pounds, while in bronze form
he’s much more svelt looking.

We also saw the Scott Monument, which is just a couple of minutes away from my hotel. Scott
re-found the Scottish Honours (the crown, sceptre and sword) after they’d been locked away
for over one hundred years.

After finishing the tour, I walked along the Royal Mile towards Edinburgh Castle. Along the way,
I visited the Edinburgh Old Town Weaving Company. This is one of the few places where they still
weave tartans. The process to go from sheep to tartan is quite involved. Some of the looms
being used are over a hundred years old.

Next stop was Edinburgh Castle.

The castle is quite large and quite old. Perched on an old volcanic plug of rock, parts of the
castle date back to the 1200’s. There’s evidence that shows the site was used as far back as
850 BC by pre-historic hunters.

I rented an audio commentary widget. This is a nifty device about the size of a cell phone. You
can use either the built-in speaker or headphones. Scattered around the castle were signs with
a number on them. Punch in the number and you get a detailed narrative, including music, about
whatever you’re looking at. Neat.

Shortly after arriving at the castle, it started to rain. Fortunately, I had an umbrella in my
backpack so I was able to continue wandering around looking at things until it finished raining.
You can see the rain and the umbrella in some of the pictures.

Stored at the Edinburgh Castle are the Scottish Honours. These are the crown, sceptre and sword
that have been used since the 1200’s or so. They haven’t left the castle except on extremely
rare occasions over the years. They have, however, been broken in two and smuggled away to safety,
buried two or three times and locked in a chest that was walled in a room for over a century.

During World War II, they were hidden in the ruins underneath one of the buildings at the
castle. Only four people were entrusted with maps: the king, two other people and the Governor
General of Canada. It was thought that if the first three people were lost before the Honours
were retrieved, chances are that the Governor General of Canada would still be around.

I explored the castle some more, in fact until closing time, and then walked around the base
of the castle, crossing through Princes Street Gardens before making my way back to the hotel.

I may write some more later on this evening, but you can click here to see the pictures I took today.

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