Read our regular staff blog and get a behind-the-scenes-view of life and work at Stirling Castle.

A Winter Warmer

by StirlingCastle 9. November 2015 04:25

In the winter we all look forward to some hearty food to keep us warm during the winter months.

This month in the Year of Food and Drink calendar we are going to take a closer look at the tasty foods the Scottish larder has to brighten up the dark winter days. This month at the Unicorn Café, one of the dishes we will be serving is stuffed baked potato Scottish style. Our in-house chef has given us the recipe, so we can also make it at home.  

Roasting Hot Stuffed Baked Potato & Mustard Butter & Curly Kale (serves 4


4 x Medium baking potatoes
160g Haggis
160g Turnip peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
12 x Rashers of pancetta – preferable dry cured pork belly or streaky bacon
20ml Rapeseed oil
Sea salt flakes
160g Curly kale picked and washed
60ml Vegetable stock
30g Butter
30g Arran grain mustard


1. Washed and dried your baking potatoes, prick several times with the point of a sharp knife
2. Pour the rape seed oil in a bowl sprinkle in some sea salt, then rub on to the potatoes
3. Place on a tray in the oven 180 degrees for roughly 1.5 hours depending on potato size
4. When they are ready, they will be golden brown and when you squeeze then they will feel soft

5. Allow them to cool, slice through the potato long ways and scoop out leaving a potato skin shell, mash the scooped out potato and season with salt and pepper

6. Roll the mashed potato into 4 ball shapes

7. Boil the turnip, drain and mash, season with salt & pepper and allow to cool

8. After the turnip has cooled roll the turnip as you did with the potato
9. Roll the haggis into 4 balls as well
10. After you have rolled the haggis, turnip and potato, wrap the balls in the rashers of  pancetta
11. Place one of each of the balls in the baked potato shell
12. When the oven has reached 180 degrees, roast them in the oven for 20 minutes till piping hot and pancetta crisp.


13. In a saucepan add the vegetable stock, butter & Arran grain mustard and bring it to the boil

14. Add the curly kale and cook for 2 minutes

15. Serve the sauce with the stuffed baked potato

Happy cooking, share your photos with us at @stirlingcastle using the #HSEat


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Remember remember the prince this November

by StirlingCastle 3. November 2015 10:33

Who’d have guessed that a young boy from Stirling would end up at the centre of one of the biggest and brightest events in the nation’s calendar? I am of course referring to Bonfire Night and the boy who grew up to be King James VI Scotland & I of England.


In 1566 Mary Queen of Scots orchestrated one of the biggest celebrations in Stirling Castle’s history to celebrate the baptism of her son, James. One of the highlights of the festivities was a spectacular fireworks display, one of Scotland's first. Watching fireworks explode in the night sky and fall gloriously over the castle was an amazing and memorable sight in 16th Century Scotland as it still is today.

Fast forward some 40 years and James would find himself once again at the heart of a very different, but no less historic fireworks display.


In 1605 Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators filled an undercroft below the House of Lords with firewood, coal and gun powder which they planned to detonate during the state opening of parliament. The most high profile of their intended targets was King James.

Alas Fawkes was caught red handed and the plot foiled with James escaping the attempt on his life. Fawkes and the plotters unfortunately did not.

So this bonfire night as you look to the dark skies illuminated by magnificent fireworks remember, remember the boy from Stirling Castle at the centre of the story.

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And Yet it Stands

by StirlingCastle 15. October 2015 07:45

Many of you may have seen our former artist-in-residence Iona Leishman’s exhibition And Yet it Stands which took place earlier this year.  I met up with Iona recently to discuss the showcase and where the artwork ended up.



The exhibition title itself is actually  the motto of Mary of Guise (mother of Scotland’s best-known monarch Mary Queen of Scots) who was not only a central figure in the history of Stirling Castle but whose presence has been a huge influence on Leishman’s work since embarking on her castle journey in 2011. 


“She not only held her own in a foreign country dominated by men but she endured such personal loss and tragedy including the deaths of both her husbands and several children. Yet she maintained her empathy for other people and had great wit and charm,” noted the artist. Hence the resonance of the phrase And Yet it Stands.


The collection of paintings that made up the exhibition featured many of Scotland’s great battles but the female perspective was not lost. And although the subjects and stories are very much deeply rooted in Stirling, the castle and the people who lived and died here, it seems they resonated with people from all walks of life and parts of the world. 


Iona explained, “I  also tried to incorporate a universal theme into each painting”.  And it seems she was very successful with her work being sold to visitors from Switzerland, Germany, US, Taiwan and Aberdeen!




Many buyers had been searching for a certain piece for many years while others just felt an instant connection.  Some buyers had known of her work and sought it out while others had never previously known her name nor stepped foot in the country before.  But all have left with a very special and personal piece of both the artist and the castle.


As the conversation drew to a close we noted how much her work had progressed since her residency and how deeply the castle and it’s stories had gotten under her skin, a not unusual occurrence for those of us who work here and so it seems her new customers too!


You can find out more about Iona’s work at


Nicola McCrae
Marketing Executive, Historic Scotland


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