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Jedburgh What a delightful welcome to Scotland as we alighted from the car, a piper playing at the roadside. Onward to Jedburgh and the abbey there. Sadly another impressive but ruined abbey perched in the village of Jedburgh. By contrast, Traquair House is the oldest, continually occupied home in the UK. 1000 years ago it commenced as a royal hunting tower, and has had extensions added to become an impressive 3 storey mansion.

Edinburgh A major highlight of our short stay was the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, the home of the Military Tattoo. Hours spent wandering the grounds and displays of the Royal Scots Guards and Dragoons. 2nd highlight was a lunch date with Fiona Mobbs (née Chambers) and her handsome bairn, Sean. Highlight #3 was a late evening, underground tour of the Real Mary King’s Close which took us on a guided tour beneath the Royal Mile, into the bowels of the Council Chambers which were built over the top of Mary King’s Close as the lower storeys of the houses were used for its foundations. Heard of the ‘garde loo’ which was the toilet soil that was launched into the streets twice a day upon the chiming of the bell. It was a unique tour and experience. Our final highlight was finding a laundrette……finally fresh clothes. Unable to visit Holeyrood as HRH was due to be in residence for presentations of ‘The Order of the Thistle’……..as a local copper told us, “Nice B&B”.

Stirling We detoured slightly to visit the site of the Battle of Bannockburn where the outnumbered forces of Robert (the) Bruce defeated Edward I and claimed Stirling Castle for the Scots. WOW……..What a brilliant, interactive presentation of the events leading to and on the day of the battle. You enter the room where 3D presentations depicting animated puppets take you through the events leading to the battle. next an enormous 360′ degree screen shows a variety of battles between archers, cavalry and sword infantry, and finally full size interactive characters feed information to you relating to their roles during the battle. Off to War The doors to the battle room open and we are ushered into a games room. A large, circular, digital table stands in the centre of the room. Each of us is designated a number and we are made generals of a section of either the Scottish  Army led by Robert Bruce or the English les by Edward I. With the support of a moderator, in rapid sequence, each general is asked to deploy their troops into the game, and before your eyes the battles commence………over the course of 2 days (20 minutes) the battle plays out before a winner is declared. It was fabulous.

Stirling Castle This stunning medieval castle sits atop a high, rocky crag and was desired for its strategic importance to the control of Scotland………”if you control Stirling, you control Scotland”. On 8 occasions the castle has been at the centre of battles for control between Scots and Brits, Jacobeans and Protestants. Within the halls are the Stirling Heads which were recreated and restored to their original locations after the room’s roof collapsed and many of the carved heads were removed as souvenirs.

The Beheading Stone on Mote Hill was thought to be used for capital punishment of various important figures in the 15th century. Mote Hill is much older than Stirling Castle and dates as a fort which was destroyed by fire in 250 AD, probably by the Romans moving north or the Picts travelling south. This fort controlled the crossing of the river Forth for 2000 years.

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