Wallace and Bruce had won the kingdoms freedom,
the Stewarts built their monument to independence.
Stirling was the symbolic location the Stewart monarchs
chose to make one of their grandest gestures: on top of
the castle rock they built a brightly coloured palace
that could be seen for miles around.
Around the castles central courtyard are arranged
some of the most splendid buildings to survive from Scotlands
Renaissance. On the one side is the Great Hall built by
James IV, and on the other side of the courtyard the magnificent
Palace of James V- one of the earliest Renaissance buildings
James Vs Palace & The Stirling Heads
Inside the palace, the Kings presence chamber
was richly decorated with 56 oak-carved heads, representing
many of his courtiers, along with gods and heroes
from Classical antiquity. Known as The Stirling
Heads, and carved in the 1540s, they are perhaps
the supreme example of renaissance iconography in
Scotland. The courtiers are depicted in the style
of classical gods at some sort of celestial court,
and this reflects the Renaissance hankering for the
cultural glories of classical Rome and Greece.
of the original 56 heads survive today, and they
would have fitted into an oak framework on the
ceiling of the king's chamber- a fairly common
feature in many palaces on the continent at the
courtiers depicted in the carvings are the
most fashionable and creative people of the
day, who came to the court of the Stewarts
to win fame and
All kinds of people met at the Palace and
the court was extremely cosmopolitan: communicating
in up to six different languages, and always
abreast of the latest technologies in the
Europe of the day.
Palace itself dates from about 1538 to 1542 and
is noticeable for its wealth of exterior sculptures,
as well as the famous interior decor. Masons from
France worked on the palace and undoubtedly had
an influence on its design and style.
Great Hall of James IV
The Great Hall was built around 1500 for James
IV and housed one of the most cosmopolitan and
talented courts Scotland ever saw.
alchemist John Damian was one such courtier, who
promised the King that he would produce gold from
base metals, and who attempted to fly from
castle walls in 1508.
great Makar, William Dunbar, was also a prominent
member of the court and we know many of the palace
intrigues today from his poetry.
hall measures 42.2m by 14.3m, and has five huge
fireplaces to warm the court through the winter
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