edinburgh-top-left castle

Edinburgh Castle Facts

Edinburgh Castle Facts, the Castle is built on an extinct volcano and is one of Edinburgh's most visited tourist attractions. It is Edinburgh's most famous and recognisable landmark, steeped in history and part of Edinburgh's World Heritage site.


Origins of the castle

Around 340 million BC

The castle rock is created by volcanic activity.

Around 900 BC

First archaeological evidence for human settlement on the castle.

Around AD 600

First historical reference to Din Eidyn - a fortress on the rock.

AD 638

Angles capture Din Eidyn and rename it Edinburgh.


St Margaret of Scotland dies in the ‘Castle of Maidens’, Edinburgh

Around 1130

David I builds a formidable royal castle on the rock. It includes a chapel dedicated to his mother Queen Margaret, which still stands.


Wars of Independence


Edward I of England invades Scotland, capturing the castle after a three-day siege.


The Scots, under Robert the Bruce, recapture the castle.


The English retake the castle.


The Scots take it back again.


David II orders the rebuilding of the castle. David’s Tower is named after him.


David II dies in the castle.


A seat of royal power


The giant cannon Mons Meg arrives in the castle, a gift to James II.


James IV builds the Great Hall.

1494 to 1540

The Sceptre and the Sword of State are presented to James IV by successive popes. The Honours of Scotland are completed when the Crown is made in its present form for James V.


Mary Queen of Scots gives birth in the castle to her only child, the future King James VI of Scotland and I of England.

1571 to 1573

The ‘Lang Siege’, which ends in the destruction of David’s Tower.

1574 to 1578

The castle is rebuilt. The Half-Moon Battery and Portcullis Gate are added to reinforce its defences.

1615 to 1617

The Royal Palace is extensively renovated for James VI’s visit to his birthplace for his 50th anniversary as king of Scots.


Charles I is the last monarch to sleep in the castle, on the night before his coronation as King of Scotland.

Royalty under threat


Having overthrown and executed Charles I, Oliver Cromwell invades Scotland and captures the castle.

1651 to 1660

The Honours of Scotland (Crown, Sword and Sceptre) are buried near Stonehaven, Kincardineshire, to save them from Cromwell