Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Castles, Queens, and Volcanic Scenes

After the Real Mary King's Close tour, I ventured back to the Camera Obscura museum for some postcards, because I couldn't stop thinking abut them....

Young Love = Death

Wrinkled, old, tired lady...

...or younger, slightly less tired girl

An up-to-no-good security guard...

...or a disgruntled graduate
So fun...

From there I walked to the top of the Royal Mile which dead ends at the Edinburgh Castle. 

the castle

rainbows are common here

In pure tourist fashion I took the guided tour. It was however in Scottish...which is technically English, but in reality it is a complete foreign language to me at most times.  Despite the language barrier, I was still able to learn a  few things...

I particulary like the scandelous Mary Queen of Scots story.  Mary was queen of Scotland from 1542 to 1567.

She was only 6 days old when her father, King James V, died. She was crowned queen nine months later...a baby Queen! how cute =) 

She married Francis Dauphin of France and became queen consort of France until she was widowed at age 18. Mary then returned to Scotland and married her first cousin, Henry Stuart. Their union was unhappy and in 1567, there was a huge explosion at their house, and Darnley was found dead, apparently strangled, in the garden.

She again married the 4th Earl of Bothwell, who was believed to be Darnley's murderer. Well the town didn't exactly approve of this, and following an uprising against the couple, the 25-year old Queen Mary was imprisoned and forced to pass the crown down to her then one-year-old son, King James VI. After an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne, Mary fled to England seeking the protection of her first cousin once removed, Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Mary had previously claimed Elizabeth's throne as her own and was considered the legitimate sovereign of England by many English Catholics. Perceiving her as a threat, Queen Elizabeth had her arrested and kept her imprisoned for 18 years and 9 months.  After this time, Mary Queen of Scots was tried and beheaded for treason for her alleged involvement to assassinate Elizabeth.  Yikes.

Well it was a sad end for Mary, but it was her son James, King of Scotland, who also united England and Irelnad under one crown during his rule.

This is the room Mary's son, King James VI, was born in:

King James' first view...if a baby can see at all that is

Also on display in the castle is Mons Meg, a huge cannon that was made around 1449 as a gift to King James II. 

Mons Meg's view of the city

that old couple is about to get it.

It's named Mons because it was made in Mons, Belgium, and Meg after Margaret of Denmark, King James III's wife.

A Dane in Scotland!

My other favorite Scottish monarch story was that of King Malcolm III and his wife, Margaret.  When Margaret recieved news of her husband's death during a battle in 1093...she died four days later of a broken heart.  I thought that was sweet. She was canonised in 1250  in recognition of her personal holiness, fidelity to the Church, work for religious reform, and charity. There St. Margaret's Chapel, is named after her on the castle campus.

Right over the side rail of the chapel was my favorite part of the tour...the pet cemetary.  Where all the royal dogs and cats are buried:

The pets and puppies even had their own tombstones.

Also on the tour was the Great Hall used for meetings, dinners, and fancy events:

a revolving wheel
The Great Hall, swords lining the walls

Isn't that good Norwegian wood?  Why yes it is!  Imported from Scandinavia back in the 1500s

What is now a World War II Veteran's Memorial:

no pictures allowed of the inside

A Prisoner of War Exhibit:

Interestingly enough, they had in the exhibit an old wooden door from a British POW ship that was transporting captured American soldiers of the Revoluntionary War.  Carved into the door was this image of an early verison of the American flag:

God Bless the USA
 This carving is a depiction of Lord Nord being hung by a noose. 
Lord Nord was the prime minister of Great Britain during the Revolutionary War.  It was his crippling taxes that sparked the American colonies' Boston Tea Party.

Another fun aspect of the tour were the drawing and mannequins in the prison museum...
lawn bowling in prison?

This prison guard was just doing his duty!

This prisoner is being tickled, I mean checked by the guard

And this guy is drunk.  Looks pretty accurate to me.

This guy they must have robbed from the Davy Crockett exhibit

After the castle tour I wanted to visit the Surgeon's Hall MuseumThe museum is one of the largest and most historic collections of surgical pathology material in the United Kingdom. It has been built to further the educational opportunities for surgical students and it was also from its earliest times open to members of the public to improve general public understanding of medicine.  It also houses the skeleton of one, William Burke. 

 I knew the museum was closed on weekends, but one of the dcotors I met during my work visit had mentioned that he was a fellow at the museum and his office was nearby.  I thought maybe, just maybe if I walked past the building I might run into him and he might give me a private tour.  Or if someone was in the office I might try using a little charm and a little name dropping and see if I could have a look around...."Hi, I'm Julie.  I love science.  I'm a friend of the doctor's..... can I umm see your organs, bones, and corpses?"

I walked past the building and noticed the door was open.  I thought alright, this is my lucky day!  I walk up and there is a man at a desk.  I ask him if ti is ok to look around.  He says sure go ahead, the exhibition hall is on the 2nd floor.  I walk up the stairs where two middle eastern/Indian-looking women are standing dressed in colorful, jeweled robes and headresses.  I think, "This is weird,"  but whatever.  The girl hands me a piece of paper, thanks me so much for coming, and tells me to enjoy.  Something is not right.  I go through the double doors into a large room.  The perimeter of the room is set up with tables as in a trade show or festical where everyone has a station.  EVERYONE in the room is dressed in ethnic robes and headresses and looks Indian.  I look down at the paper the girl handed me and it reads big and bold across the top: "SULTANTE OF OMAN."  ....Boy am I in the wrong place.  I am the only caucasion in the room.  I am the only person wearing pants....I feel so incredibly awkward in my Kmart puff coat and purple nikes with the bright green shoelaces... I take one big loop around the perimeter, pretending I am genuinely interested and meant to be here...not wanting to seem awkward or lost.  For some reason, I don't think I was all that convincing... 

I head out the door, back downstairs to the man at the desk.  I ask him where is Surgeon's Hall?  He chuckles and says it is in this building, but the entrance is around the side.  And it's closed.  Fail.

So I stopped by the nearby police station where they have on display a business card holder made from the skin of William Burke:
Recyclying is encouraged in Scotland
Well I didn't want to end my day on a failure, so I decided to climb to the top of Arthur's Seat, an extinct volcano...with all my shopping bags, yes... and starting at 4:30pm when the sun is just about starting to set, yes... and after I have been on my feet and walking around since 9:30am, yes.  I am not always the most rational planner.

The starting point

There lovers were hogging the highest point!

Tired, cold, hungry...desperate.

night falls

After a few toe stubs and ankle turns, the wind picked up and it became highly realistic that tripping and falling while being blown off this moutain is going to become my guarenteed cause of death.  Luckily, I gathered the strength in my ankles to control my loose feet for a few moments longer and made it down alive... 1.5 hours later not too bad, albeit cold, dark, exhausted, and ...Ah yes! que the rain...


AL said...

"Mad! Loony as an Arcturian dogbird!"
~Mr. Scott from the original Star Trek

Trevor said...

Good stuff. That US flag story brought out the patriot in me. Like the duty joke. Museum story made me laugh out loud.

Mary Ellen said...

Surgical pathology, right down your alley! I am so proud of you Ju!

Colleen E. said...

haha ahh, sounds grand! do they say that there too? i like the museum people

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