Aside from the fabulous buildings there are also great guns, and batteries to view here. There is also the witch's well, this is an ancient iron well, which as its name would suggest was used to drown people who were suspected of being witches. There is a great deal more to see. Not only above ground but also below, everything that you see above ground is built upon vaults and secret passageways dating from the middle ages. Whilst walking through some of the vaults you do get the feeling of a very rich and sometimes bloody history.
Having been built on an extinct volcano, 400 feet above sea level, the Edinburgh castle stands like a sentinel overlooking both the old and new towns. As well as looking incredibly dramatic from the outside, once within the castle walls you can enjoy splendid and panoramic views over Scotland and the rolling hills to England.
The east curtain wall and tower basement are believed to be the oldest surviving fortifications, which date back to the twelfth Century, however, a comb made from bone was found during excavations in 1989. This comb supports evidence that the original fortification was the Royal Hall of King Mynydogg, whose capital called Din Eydin; (giving Edinburgh its name) was on the rock itself.
The site was also used for the halls of later Anglian Chiefs; however the castle does not appear in history until after the death of Margaret, Queen of Scotland (wife of Malcolm III who defeated Macbeth) which was in 1093. Incidentally Margaret was canonised in 1249.
Edinburgh Castle is a mixture of buildings and fortifications dating from early Twelfth to early Twentieth Centuries. As it stands the castle covers almost seven acres, although early sixteenth century drawings show that there were defences around a considerable area, but the main components of the castle were kept at the south east corner on the highest part of the rock.
St. Margaret's Chapel was originally thought to have been used by Queen Margaret for worship, however, it has since been established that is not possible and that it had been built sometime in the twelfth century. It had lain forgotten for some time and indeed has been a gunpowder and munitions store. In 1845 an antiquarian discovered the storehouse, realised what it was, and began restoration. The stained glass windows, of which there are only five are the work of Douglas Strachan and dated very recently at 1922, they depict St. Margaret, St. Ninian, William Wallace, St. Columba and St. Andrew, although only very small this is a working chapel and to this day still holds services and on occasion weddings.
King James I was the first King to build a Palace within the castle walls during the 1430's, the Palace itself was rubble built (on the site of the great chamber built in 1430's), however, he was assassinated shortly after completion. It was not until the reign of James III, who came to throne in 1460, that Edinburgh was recognised as the capital; it was then that he started making alterations. James IV (1488-1513) the Scottish Renaissance King started alterations on a grander scale, and is believed to have built the great hall, evidence of this is that his monogram IR4 is to be found on a corbel supporting the roof. His successor, James V (1513-42) helped to establish the basic outlines of the castles subsequent development. King James VI remodeled the north facing part of the Palace within the castle in 1617. It is quite plain to see the two Kings differing tastes in architecture when you look at the palace, it appears to have been built in two halves, the top half having mullioned and transformed windows, and the official block (lower half) being very plain indeed. This was the time that he had returned from London and although he held court at the Palace, he never slept there, and Holyrood House (at the end of the Royal Mile) was where he had his bedchambers.
The Great Hall is well worth a look especially if you are interested in weaponry; amongst other items you may see the vast array of armour, lances, swords and pistols. Bronze trench mortars still in their original mounts dating back to the 1700's along with a cannon which was a gift to Charles II, made in Holland in 1676.
Queen Ann's Barracks have been built upon vaults and have both winding and straight staircases, some of which the public have access to, however, most of them are closed off.