Restoration of Stirling Castle Palace: providing insight into life at the royal court

Restoration of Stirling Castle Palace: providing insight into life at the royal court

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The historically accurate restoration of six Stirling Castle Palace apartments and replication of the Stirling Heads, a series of carved oak roundels which were installed in the ceiling of King’s Presence Chamber, by Sally Rush of the University of Glasgow has transformed academic and curatorial understanding of how the Palace looked and functioned and enhanced popular understanding of life at the royal court.

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The £12 million restoration of the Palace, which opened in June 2011, has secured Stirling Castle’s position as a prime educational and tourist attraction – voted UK’s top heritage attraction in 2012 by Which? and one of Europe’s top 40 ‘amazing experiences’ in 2013 by Lonely Planet.

Stirling Castle Palace is Britain’s most structurally complete Renaissance royal palace and an outstanding example of Scottish Renaissance architecture. It was built by James V to showcase the political success of his two French marriages, but the interior decoration and furnishings had been completely lost following the Castle site’s 18th century conversion to military use (until 1964).

Research carried out by Dr Sally Rush, Senior Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Glasgow, and supported by Historic Scotland, enabled six key apartments in the Palace to be furnished and decorated as they would have been when the palace was first constructed (c.1538), and directed the replication of the Stirling Heads, a series of carved oak roundels which were installed in the ceiling of King’s Chamber.

The necessary primary sources for the furnishing of James V’s palaces survived but had never been fully analysed until Dr Rush’s careful cross-referencing of inventories and accounts revealed details of provenance, acquisition, manufacture and material quality.

Visitors are now able to progress through rooms furnished and decorated as they might have been when the palace was first constructed, with historically accurate reproductions created by local craftspeople and artists. As the reconstruction is based upon Rush’s study of the royal inventories and accounts supported by contextual research, interpreters are able to explain the provenance, design, material quality, and use of the items seen.

To find out more visit:
www.stirlingcastle.gov.uk/palaceproject

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