Edinburgh Castle is the northerly “bookend” of the Great North Road as St Paul’s Cathedral is in the south. Not strictly on the road but both ancient, striking landmarks, visible from distance, which scream “you’ve arrived”.
The city of Edinburgh grew up around the Castle, crammed, until the late 17th century, within its late medieval walls. Travellers complained about the seedy coaching inns squeezed within the old town. The city has expanded repeatedly since then but the castle, perched on its 130m high volcanic rock continues to dominate the Scottish capital.
Edinburgh Castle was for many centuries at the heart of royal and military power in Scotland. It bore a significance even beyond its striking location as the pendulum of co-operation and conflict between England and Scotland swung back and forth.
The castle has marked the start point or destination for numerous kings, queens, courtiers and commanders who have journeyed the Great North Road over the last 1,000 years.
A lone piper in the distance (the best way to listen to bagpipes) plays a pibroch in memory of dead comrades-in-arms.