Thereafter, a long procession of monarchs came to enjoy Stirling. King William the Lion improved the amenities of his castle by establishing a royal hunting ground, still known as the Kings Park, below the ramparts. During the years which followed a colourful royal mixture of births, coronations, deaths, murders, parliaments and kidnappings occurred within the castle walls.
The Douglas Garden, for example, recalls the murder by King James II of his warlord enemy the eighth Earl of Douglas, whose body was thrown into this area from a window above, while the 'Heading Stone' on the nearby Gowan Hill marks where at least five dukes and earls were executed as traitors in the 15th century.
For many, the greatest king to live at Stirling was James IV, responsible for much of the present appearance of the castle. This Renaissance king, founder of Aberdeen University and Edinburgh's College of Surgeons, speaker of six languages including Gaelic, patron to some of Scotland's greatest artistic talents, is the monarch who brought Robert Carver to the Chapel Royal at Stirling Castle and thus discovered perhaps Scotland's finest ever musical composer.
Such was his interest in science that he also supported the French monk Damian in his unsuccessful attempts at Stirling to turn lead into gold. He also built the famous Great Hall - scene of the extraordinary 'ship' which astonished guests at James Vl's famous banquet in 1594 on the occasion of Prince Henry's baptism.
by Craig Mair