Exploring Scotland's Past

Through It's Monuments and Landmarks

Exploring Scotland's Past
Edinburgh Castle

Scotland, also known as Alba, has a rich history full of tragedies, struggles, and triumphs.

We shall explore a handful of these now through several monuments and historic landmarks throughout the land, starting in the capital city of Edinburgh...

Edinburgh, or Dun Eideann in Scottish Gaelic, is full of historical landmarks. We shall begin with the one that can be viewed from all over the city...


Edinburgh Castle from Princes Street Gardens

One of the oldest fortified places in Europe, it has been a royal residence, military garrison, prison, and fortress for over 1000 years. It sits on its lofty perch high above the city on Castle Rock, a site that has been occupied for more than 3000 years! What you see of the castle today was mostly built during the 1500s onward, however, St. Margaret's Chapel was built in the 12th century and can also still be seen on the castle grounds!

We move forward in time several hundred years for our next monument, also located in the capital...


Sir Walter Scott Monument

Scott was a well-known novelist and poet in the late 1700s and early 1800s. He had connections to the British King George IV, who he had a hand in organizing a royal visit to Edinburgh back in 1822. Scott even got the king to wear tartan, signaling the end of the ban that had been in effect since 1746, after the last of the Jacobite Uprisings tried to gain Scotland's freedom...his monument was built in the 1840s, 8 years after his death.

We move a few miles/kilometers outside of the city for our next historic landmark...


Rosslyn Chapel

Most recently made famous by the Da Vinci Code books and movies, this chapel has been around since the mid-1400s. It was built by the St. Clair family as a private chapel and has been a place of worship ever since...except for during the Reformation in 1571, when the altar was forced to be destroyed and the chapel was closed to worship, not opening to the public again until is well-known for its intricate architecture both inside and out.

Heading north, our next monument is more of a natural one, marking an important event in Scotland's history...



A place of majestic mountains and deep valleys, Glencoe is known for the massacre that happened back in 1692 of the MacDonalds...the Campbells were sent by Sir John Dalrymple, the Secretary of State of the new King William, who had taken over the English and Scottish throne from the Scottish King James II, to massacre the clan for failing to sign their oath to William by January. The MacDonald's had signed the oath, but not until after the deadline...something Dalrymple overlooked, probably because he was on the new King's side...luckily, some of the MacDonald's were able to escape, having been warned by some of the Campbells who felt the order was wrong. To this very day, in some places up in the Highlands you can see see signs saying 'No Campbells Allowed'...that's how strong the Highlanders felt about this event!

Another historic landmark we shall look at is over on a tiny island in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of mainland Scotland....


Iona Abbey-still in use today

Nunnery ruins

Celtic Cross

Book of Kells

The religious site was founded by the Irish monk Columcille, later named St. Columba, who started a monastery in 563 AD. The original building no longer exists, but the stone abbey seen today dates from the early 1200s and was of the Benedictine Order. There is also ruins of the nunnery built at the same time...St. Columba was an important figure in Scottish history, and helped spread Christianity and learning throughout the land. Iona is also known for it's Celtic crosses, and the Book of Kells, said to have been written by monks on Iona in the early 700s!

Heading back to the mainland, we come to....


Standing Stones in Kilmarten Glen

A place full of monoliths and other stone monuments that date back thousands of years! Nobody really knows why they were erected, but some believe they hold spiritual and astrological significance...

We head over to the southeast of the country for our last monument...


Melrose Abbey

Supposed burial place of Robert the Bruce's heart

Robert the Bruce, the famous warrior king who fought for Scotland's independence back in the late 12th and early 13th centuries, is said to have his heart buried at Melrose Abbey. The ruins seen today are what remains of the 12th century Cistercian abbey founded by King David I in Melrose, Scotland, but the original abbey was founded back in the 6th century by monks from Iona. Robert the Bruce had connections with the abbey, and made arrangements to have his heart buried here after his death.

There are many more monuments and landmarks scattered over Scotland, and all are worth visiting and learning more about! If you're interested in a brief timeline of Scottish history, check out this link:

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Rachael Spafford
See all posts by Rachael Spafford