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

The Queen’s Feast

by StirlingCastle 8. December 2015 05:57

As the winter solstice approaches, we often cheer ourselves with a generously laid table. To feast when the days are shortest is nothing new, but some historical celebrations make our modern excesses pale in comparison.




One of Scotland’s most spectacular winter revelries took place in Stirling, 1566.  Mary Queen of Scots arranged a three-day celebration at Stirling Castle to follow the baptism of her son, the future James VI. It began a week before Christmas, on 17 December.


Mary Queen of Scots arranged a spectacular winter celebration for her son’s baptism.


Modelled on the royal fêtes Mary had witnessed growing up in France, this would be a statement of her strength. She was a queen with an heir. Elaborate masques – stylised theatrical performances – were performed for the guests, penned by George Buchanan. Mary even ordered new clothes for her retinue. The Earl of Moray’s new outfit was green, while the Earl of Argyll was clad in red, and the Earl of Bothwell wore blue.


A pasteboard enchanted fortress was erected in the dip between the castle and the town, which Mary’s guests overlooked from a specially constructed platform. They watched as it was besieged by performers playing Moors, centaurs and fiends.


A pasteboard fortress, built outside Stirling Castle to celebrate the baptism of the future James VI.


Huge quantities of fine foods and wines were transported to the castle. The first two courses alone comprised fifty or more separate dishes. This grand feast was served from a mechanical moving stage, operated by satyrs and nymphs. The satyrs caused some consternation when they wiggled their bottoms at the English delegation. An angel read verses from a golden sphere attached to the ceiling, and everything went well, until the stage collapsed as the final course was served.


A feast is laid on at Stirling Castle.


And finally, at the darkest time of the year, fireworks lit the night sky over Stirling. Gunpowder and cannon fire proclaimed the end of the festival.


If you would like to dine like royalty we still have limited places left for our Christmas Lunch.  Book now at

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Rustic Chicken

by StirlingCastle 2. December 2015 09:53

Our in-house chef has prepared another fantastic recipe for us to enjoy. This time it’s a chicken broth which is perfect for this time of the year. And it slots perfectly into the year of food and drink. It’s a simple and quick recipe to make after you have been out exploring the castle on a cold winter day.

Alternatively, you can enjoy the Rustic Chicken in the Unicorn Cafe.

Rustic Chicken, Leek & Potato Broth Serves 4

IL Vegetable stock
250g Leeks - cut into 2cm pieces and washed
500g Potatoes scrubbed and cut into 2cm dice
4 x Chicken thighs
Salt & pepper

1. Bring the vegetable stock to the boil
2. Add the chicken thighs and allow to simmer for 20 minutes
3. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon from pot and place on a plate and leave to cool
4. Remove the skin and pick the chicken from the bone
5. Add the leek to the stock and boil for 5 minutes, then remove from pot with slotted spoon and allow to cool
6. Add the potatoes to the pot and cook them until soft, roughly 15 minutes
7. Remove half the potatoes from the pot when they are soft and keep with the cooked leek
8. Blend the remaining potato and stock until smooth
9. Add the reamining potato, leek and chicken
10. Simmer for 5 minutes and season to taste

Serve with some crusty bread.

Have a nice time cooking and remember share you pictures with us at @stirlingcastle using the hashtag #HSEat



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Christmas is all wrapped up at Stirling Castle

by StirlingCastle 26. November 2015 06:35

With just under a month to go until the big day, Stirling Castle is swinging into the Christmas spirit with a series of events and offers, including late night shopping at the Clan and Christmas gift shop on Wednesdays 9th, 16th and 23rd December. The shop is stocking lots of unique gifts by Stirling suppliers, and local business Wrapistry by Cherene will also be on hand to demonstrate creative Christmas wrapping ideas.

We caught up with owner Cherene Robertson to find out how you get a job wrapping presents!



Have you always had creative jobs?
I was meant to go to Edinburgh College of Art when I left school, but at the last minute I changed direction and went into travel. I studied in Dundee and Glasgow, and my ultimate goal was to work for an airline which I did – it was a brilliant job, and the highlight of my working life before I had my daughter Grace (who will be 12 on the 27th December!). I now divide my time between directing my husband’s local electrical company, and Wrapistry.


What or who gave you the idea to start a gift wrapping company?
My mum and three of my best friends. For as long as I can remember my mum and I have had this love of gift wrapping,  especially at Christmas. She encouraged me from a small age, it was our special mum and daughter time - and it still is, except my daughter Grace now joins in on it too! So we have a three generation gift wrapping company.


We rolled out four days before Christmas  in 2014, after one of my best friends said, “Cherene, stop hiding away go out and show everyone what you can do!” She said the public should have the chance to experience the wrapping I was already doing for family and friends, and encouraged me to be brave and ‘dip my toe in the water’ - so here I am!  And I feel very lucky to be surrounded by so many positive individuals, who are great sounding blocks and most of all want to see me succeed. The support of my friends and family means everything.



What’s the best thing about the job?
One of the best things has to be seeing the look on a customer’s face when they see the finished gift – when they see it all wrapped and ribboned their faces simply light up. I also get huge job satisfaction from giving my services to charities. This year I have worked with SCALP, So precious, and the Bridge of Allan stroke group. I am currently working with Strathcarron Hospice and the Local Fire Brigade in Stirling & Alloa on the Christmas toy appeal.


What’s the most difficult thing you’ve ever been asked to wrap?
A walking umbrella with a traditional handle. And once someone asked for a whole house to have ribbon wrapped around it!


What’s your favourite thing about Christmas?
Without a doubt it has to be the memories that my parents created for my brother and I. They made Christmas so magical for us, from putting up the Christmas tree, old Christmas songs playing in the background, a box of chocolates open and of course the fire on!


How did you end up working with us at the Clan and Christmas shop?
It was actually a friend who suggested I should contact Historic Scotland and offer my gift wrapping services. To my delight they offered to meet me and I showed them some of my work. The rest is now history - excuse the pun! - and hopefully this will be the start of a great working relationship.


When they showed me the Clan and Christmas shop I was totally mesmerised. The first thing I could see was it reminded me of old Jenners in Edinburgh at Christmas. It is without a doubt the perfect Christmas shop and atmosphere. I’m really looking forward to working with the team, the staff are so lovely and friendly and the shop is so inviting I can’t wait to get started.



I will be at the castle’s Christmas Shopping Fayre on Tuesday 1st December and in the Clan and Christmas shop Wednesday 9th, 16th and 23rd December & Sunday 20th  December.


You can also have a look at my work on Facebook, Wrapistry by Cherene, or contact me on 07581216503.


All gifts are wrapped with warm hugs!


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