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Daily Journal

June 27 – A Castle of Kings
Stirling Castle (Continued)

Once inside the fortress, the walls of the defenses, Palace and closes block off view of the Great Hall. We wander into the gardens where, coincidentally, there is an exhibit of native birds of prey taking place. I think back to the immense nest that was wedged into a tower at Brougham Castle, wondering if one of these majestic birds' relatives was responsible for the building of it.

This is a very peaceful and secluded area, even with the other visitors ringed around the birds and their handlers. The wall of the Palace, which creates a wind block to the gardens, is decorated with intricate carvings. I zoom in, snapping away at cherubs and a delightfully hideous devil.

The flowers in this small but lovely garden are in full bloom. Every color of the rainbow is represented here and I stroll slowly past the border, noting many varieties that I've previously only seen in gardening catalogs. Robin and I meet up here and realize that we've been so absorbed in our picture-taking that we've misplaced Dana. We find her soon enough by an arched entryway that leads to the gate house and round towers of the "foreworks."

As we pass through the dark recesses of the main entrance and enter the cobbled courtyard of the Outer Close the Great Hall comes back into view. I am impressed by the unicorn, Scotland's royal icon, perched atop the newly reconstructed hammerbeam roof. Inside, the walls are plastered a blinding white as they would have been in the 16th century. During this era they would have been hung with colorful tapestries to retain warmth. This room is cavernous and I can easily imagine it full of royalty and courtiers, jesters and servants; their voices echoing off the vaulted ceiling that soars above us.

Back outside, gargoyles, both restored and unrestored appear around every corner and I have to stop to reload my camera. We pass up a visit to the Regimental Museum of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and take a quiet walk through the Chapel, where many other visitors wander about. After poking around the re-created Great Kitchens, which are similar to the replica rooms at Vindolanda with wax figures and foods, we rest our weary feet at the picnic tables which are set up by the battlements. There is another outstanding view here that encompasses the town of Stirling and the hills in the distance, with the Wallace Memorial rising into the clearing sky.

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