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After Edwards death Bruce had enough time to defeat his Scottish enemies, and make himself accepted as king of the Scots. He then began to win back the castles still held by the English. When the son of his old enemy Edward II invaded Scotland in 1314 Bruce destroyed his army at Bannockburn, near Stirling. Six years later, in 1320, the Scots clergy meeting in Arbroath wrote to the Pope in Rome to tell him that they would never accept English authority: for as long as even one hundred of us remain alive, we will never consent to subject ourselves to the dominion of the English.

In the long, bitter struggle for independence, Scotland never capitulated, and when at last it became part of the United Kingdom in 1707 it was by treaty, even if many Scots regarded the Act of Union[6] as a piece of treachery. It is still a land apart, with a very separate culture. Scotland retained its separate legal and ecclesiastical systems, and until well into the 20th century its separate system of free education was the most advanced and generous in Britain. Nowadays, it has its own Parliament.

III. Scotlands beautiful capital.

1. Introduction

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. This distinction is partly an accident of Nature, for the city is built upon jumble of hills and valleys; however, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the natural geography was enhanced by the works of a succession of distinguished Georgian and Victorian architects.

Evidence that Stone Ages settlers lived in Edinburgh has been found on Calton Hill[7], Arthurs Seat[8] and Castlehill, and the towns early history centres around Castlehill. Some historians believe that this volcanic hill was a tribal stronghold as early as 600 BC.

One tribe who definitely made their mark were a group of Nothumbrians, whose 7th-century king Edwin[9], is thought to have given his name to the castle and town. Burgh is a Scottish word for borough (a small town).

2. Edinburghs Castle

The Royal Castle of Edinburgh is the most powerful symbol of Scotland. For centuries, this mighty fortress has dominated its surroundings with a majesty, which has deeply impressed many generations.

The volcanic castle rock in Edinburgh was born over 340 million years ago following a violent eruption deep in the earths crust. Its story as a place of human habitation stretches back a mere 3,000 years, to the late Bronze Age. It was evidently a thriving hill-top settlement when Roman soldiers marched by in the first century AD.

The place had become an important royal fortress by the time of Queen Margarets[10] death there in November 1093. Throughout the Middle Ages Edinburgh Castle ranked as one of the major castles of the kingdom and its story is very much the story of Scotland. But within the building of the Palace of Holyroodhouse in the early 16th century, the castle was used less and less as a royal residence, though it remained symbolically the heart of the kingdom.

Edinburgh Castle is the home of the Scottish Crown Jewels, the oldest Royal Regalia in Britain. The Honours of Scotland the Crown, Sword and Sceptre were shaped in Italy and Scotland during the reigns of King James IV and king James V and were first used together as coronation regalia in 1543.

After the 1707 Treaty of Union between Scotland and England, the Honours were locked away in the Crown Room and the doors were walled up. 111 years later, the Honours were rediscovered and immediately displayed to the public. Displayed with the Crown Jewels is the Stone of Destiny, returned to Scotland after 700 years in England.

Edinburgh Castle boasts having the giant siege gun Mons Meg in its military collection. Mons Meg (or simply Mons) was made at Mons (in present-day Belgium) in 1449. It was at the leading edge of artillery technology at the time: it weighs 6040 kilogrammes and its firing gunstones weigh 150 kilogrammes. It soon saw action against the English. But it great weigh made it ponderously slow to drag around it could only make 5 kilometres a day. By the middle of the 16th century it was retired from military service and restricted to firing salutes from the castle ramparts. It was returned to the castle in 1829.

3. The Military Tattoo

For many visitors the castle means nothing without the Edinburgh Military Tattoo[11] which is taking place at the Castle Esplanade. The esplanade had been a narrow rocky ridge until the middle of the 18th century when the present platform was created as a parade ground.

The signal (Tattoo) indicated that soldiers should return to their quarters and that the beer in the taverns should be turned off. This signal was transmitted by drum beat each evening. Eventually this developed into a ceremonial performance of military music by massed bands.

It began when the city held its first International Festival in the summer of 1947. The Army staged an evening military display on the Esplanade. The march and counter-march of the pipes and drums which was held near one of the most dramatic places anywhere in the world made it an immediate success. The Tattoo has been repeated every summer since on the same site. Each Tattoo closes with another tradition- the appearance of the lone piper on the battlements of the castle.

4. St. Giles Cathedral

If Edinburgh Castle has been at the centre of Scottish life for 9 centuries, St. Giles Cathedral, the High Kirk of Edinburgh, has been the religious heart of Scotland for even longer.

In 854 there was a church. It belonged to Lindisfarne, where Columbas monks first brought the Gospel from Iona. In 1150, the monks of St. Giles were farming lands round about and a bigger church was built by the end of the century. The first parish church of Edinburgh was dedicated to St. Giles, a saint popular in France. It was probably due to the Auld Alliance of Scotland and France against the common enemy of England.

St GilesCathedral is one of the most historic and romantic buildings in Scotland. Founded in 1100s, this church has witnessed executions, riots and celebrations. Its famous crown spire has dominated Edinburghs skyline for over 500 years. Scotland was a Catholic nation until the Reformation in the mid-16th century.

John Knox[12], the fiery Trumpeter of God, who preached against Popery, brought St. Giles into great prominence. Knoxs aim was to create a reformed Church of Scotland, to banish popery, to strengthen democracy and to set up a system of comprehensive education. The religious transition was to take 130 years of struggle to achieve.

Many of the famous Scots are commemorated in the church, including R. Burns and R. L. Stevenson.

The Giles is famous for its Thistle Chapel, which is home to the Order of the Thistle[13] and honours some of the greatest Scots of the last 300 years. This exquisite little room will take ones breath away. Its magnificent carvings and stonework evoke the ancient origins of the order and will amaze anyone with a wealth of details associated with Scotland, for example, the angel that plays the bagpipe.