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From time immemorial there have been fortifications on the Castle Rock. It is not, however, until 1004 that it is mentioned in history as a Royal residence, when it was so used by Malcolm II. Malcolm III (Canmore) and Queen Margaret lived in the castle and the latter died there in 1093.
Visitors enter the Castle through a gateway reconstructed in 1888. The entrance is protected by a dry moat, originally spanned by a drawbridge.
Immediately within the entrance the Half-Moon Battery rises. The battery is so called from its shape, and was erected by the Earl of Morton after he took the Castle from Kirkcaldy of Grange, who had held it for three years on behalf of Mary Queen of Scots. Within the Half-Moon Battery the remains of the tower erected by David II. in 1368 can now be seen.
The tower, originally 60 feet in height, was partly destroyed during the siege, and was completely hidden by the building of the Half-Moon Battery until 1913, when it was discovered and opened out by H.M. Office of Works. In this tower the Duke of Albany, brother of James Ill., was imprisoned. He escaped by a rope over the rock in 1479.
Passing the Half-Moon Battery, the visitor goes through the Argyll Tower, which was protected by three gates and a portcullis. The tower was used as a state prison, and in it the Marquis of Argyll and the Marquis of Montrose were incarcerated.
Near the Argyll Tower is a tablet to the memory of Randolph, Earl of Moray, who, with only some thirty followers, climbed the rock at this point and captured the Castle for Bruce in 1312. The latter demolished the buildings, with the exception of the chapel, and therefore the buildings still existing are subsequent to that date.
After the Great Hall (a more modern building by comparison), one reaches the Governor's house, built in the reign of Queen Anne.
From this point a steep roadway leads through Foogs Gate to St. Margaret's Chapel, the earliest building in Edinburgh. The chapel may be the one in which Queen Margaret died. It is not of later date than the twelfth century.
In front of the chapel stands Mons Meg, one of the earliest pieces of artillery in Scotland. Forged in 1486, it was used at the siege of Norham and Threave Castles, and finally burst while firing a salute to the Duke of York in 1680. The well is cut out of the solid rock to a depth of 110 feet.
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