While a Pictish stronghold may have originally existed here, the earliest record of the castle dates to Alexander I’s dedication of a chapel in 1110. As with so much else in Scotland, it was catapulted to prominence by David I, who made it a royal burgh (1124) and a centre of governance. In the Scottish Wars of Independence, it was repeatedly captured by opposing sides: the battle of Bannockburn (1314), Robert the Bruce’s epic victory, was fought within view of its battlements. King James IV of Scotland (r. 1488–1513) rebuilt Stirling to befit a Renaissance monarch, commissioning the King’s Old Building, Great Hall and (renovating) the Chapel Royal. John Damian, King James IV’s court alchemist, broke his thigh attempting flight (with chicken-feather wings) from Stirling’s battlements (1507). James’s successors continued the upgrade: by 1600 only the North Gate remained from the medieval structure.
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