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A photographer snapped snow-capped Stirling Castle shrouded in mist as he compared it to something out of Harry Potter. Scotland has been in the grip of an icy cold snap all week, with temperatures plunging to -17C in Braemar in the Highlands. Twenty years ago, Harry Potter author JK Rowling actually transformed Stirling Castle into her famous school of witchcraft and wizardry, Hogwarts.

Stirling Castle has been likened to ‘a huge brooch clasping Highlands and Lowlands together’.
From high on a volcanic outcrop, the castle guarded the lowest crossing point of the River Forth for centuries. Today it remains a great symbol of Scottish independence and national pride.

Stirling Castle was first mentioned around 1110, and many royal dramas unfolded here. Until the Union of the Crowns in 1603, almost every Scottish monarch had either lived in the castle, or been crowned or died here.

Throughout the Wars of Independence with England (1296–1356), Stirling was hotly fought over and changed hands frequently.

Stirling was the preferred residence of most of Scotland’s later medieval monarchs, and most added something to its impressive architecture. Scotland embraced the classical ideas coming from Renaissance Europe during the reign of James IV (1488–1513). He spent much time and money making the castle fit for a European monarch – partly to impress his queen, Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII of England.

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Image courtesy Brian Smith / SWNS

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