So, I left you with the pipers rehearsing outside the Castle. The weather had cleared quite a bit since I set off, and the landscape was beautiful. The tower on the left of this picture is the Wallace Monument; I believe that means the University is just the other side of the wooded hill (but never trust me on anything geographical)...
The castle is a strange, eclectic mix of styles, and I didn't seem to take many photos. The audio guide was good, but maybe a little ponderous, in the style of Imagine this courtyard in the year 1756... followed by a lot of reproduction sounds of bulls lowing, carriages clopping, people throwing barrels from carts, etc. etc. I'm not a great fan of audio guides in general but had been round Buckingham Palace, where the guide was pretty superb, the week before so gave it a go.
Anyway; this is the Chapel Royal, built for the baptism of Prince Henry, son of James VI, in 1594. The wall paintings were restored in the 20th century after the Chapel had been used to garrison soldiers for many years.
There's also a tapestry project going on, with a fascinating studio in the castle buildings - some of the completed tapestries are shown in the next two photos.
And then once I'd been round the castle, there were those Rob Roy people again; this time in full dress with hats etc. They had a large and enthusiastic audience on the various balconies and around the walls.
And there were dancers, 13 of them in this case (note the dancer racing up the middle!)
It was all rather marvellous. And just as I thought the fun was over and they'd taken their bow, the pipes got louder again, and they marched out of the castle in formation.
Fabulous. (Preparing this post over the last couple of days reminded me to go over to their website and say thanks - got a lovely reply back, with the news they'd come 6th in the world pipe band competition on August 16th, so all that practice evidently paid off...)
And just at that point I bumped into Julia (aka Sulkycat, maker of wonderful knitting project bags, etc.); and she'd bumped into some other people, and in the end we had 7 knitters squeezed around the table at the pub at lunchtime with a very entertaining waiter. I think we were from 5 different countries and almost as many nationalities... And that was definitely one of the best things about the week - so many people from different places with different experiences.
We all scattered in different directions afterwards, and I went to look at a very interesting graveyard monument I'd noticed on the way up the hill. I've never seen one quite like this before!
Or an inscription like this:
Thankfully there was an information plaque next to it which read Statues of heroes of the Scottish Presbyterian Reformation, set up when the cemetery was opened, were part of the educational and 'improving' atmosphere of Victorian Stirling... These enclosed figures represent the traditional story of Margaret Wilson who, aged 18, was executed by drowning in the Solway Firth for refusing to renounce her Protestant faith. She had no connection with Stirling. The monument avoids the horror of her death and presents a more sentimental Victorian idealisation of women.
So now you know. Strange, the sort of things the Victorians found edifying, really.
And a quick picture from the end of the visit, from a bar which used to be the old Post Office: amazing beer-glass light fitting...
Next up: outings to New Lanark and Loch Katrine...