Stirling Castle
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Finds photographs

The majority of the finds are from the excavation adjacent to the Palace, in the Ladies' Lookout, as investigation within the Palace was curtailed by the discovery of asbestos under the floors of the principal rooms. Nevertheless, the finds give some the insight into the occupation of the castle rock and, in particular, the variety of life in the Palace, from renaissance court to soldiers’ barracks.

Finds from the Ladies' Lookout included the first evidence for prehistoric occupation at the castle, in the form of a shale bangle and late prehistoric pottery.

The medieval finds assemblage commences in around the twelfth century. The earliest firmly datable find is a coin dated 1136-45. The pottery is mainly redwares and white gritty wares of twelfth to fifteen-century date with some Scarborough ware and Rhenish stoneware indicating contacts through North Sea trade, as do jetons from Nuremberg and Tournai. Various other residual finds point towards industrial activity, particularly relating to copper or bronze.

An indication of courtly life is given by the fragments of high quality glass vessels and pottery. These include fragments of glass beakers and the elaborate stem of an item of particular luxury, a drinking vessel in the facon de venise made in a manner similar to the elaborate products of Venetian workshops. A bone tuning key, from a musical instrument such as a lute or harp, reflects another aspect of court entertainment. Possible palace fittings are represented by glazed floor tiles and a sherd from a continental-style tiled stove. A fragment of stone sculpture representing a female breast was a further indication of an emphasis on worldly pleasures, echoing the present exterior decoration of the palace. The majority of the sixteenth-century pottery is in the form of two handled cooking pots and may represent a kitchen assemblage rather than life within the royal apartment itself. The pottery assemblage from this period also includes more exotic finds. These include an attractive Beauvais albarello, a pottery jar for apothecaries' ointments, dating to the mid sixteenth-century, and possible examples of Loire whiteware. Weaponry is represented by stone shot and a possible fragment of a sixteenth-century field gun.

Deposits in the Ladies' Lookout included a large midden deposit of a mid-seventeenth century date. Finds of Chinese porcelain, including a part of tea bowl, contrast with the more utilitarian nature of most of the seventeenth-century finds. The latter included a large quantity of poor quality tobacco pipes, of Edinburgh manufacture. The largest single group of pottery was Throsk ware in a large variety of forms. Dishes, bowls, drug jars and candlesticks were represented as well as more unusual forms such as a caudle cup, a chafing dish and two large puncheons. Imported wares included Anglo-Dutch tin-glazed earthenware.

The late seventeenth to early eighteenth-century was a period when the palace was the fashionable home for the governor of the castle, the upper floor furnished with chinoiserie furniture. The refined life is reflected in finds of wine glasses, some with baluster stems, and wine bottles. There was also a glass rod, possibly a fragment of a sweetmeat dish, tableware for elegant dining. Fragment of Delft tiles are also indicative of the finely finished interiors.

Finds of the later period reflected army occupation: helmets, military buttons, gun cartridges, crockery, coins, a cap badge and percussion cap. The finds also show a continued preoccupation with drink, ranging from whisky and beer bottles and early ‘Codd’ bottles for carbonated drinks through to aluminum beer cans. Personal items include a toothbrush. A hat pin and a large piece of costume jewelry show the Ladies' Lookout as a place of recreation and tourism.

the images

In the caption above each image is a description of the object along with information detailing where it was found. This is summarised using the format:


So, a reference such as Tr9:9001/674-235 would mean the item came from context 9001 in Trench 9, and its archive reference is 674-235. Equally, the reference P04/564-343 would indicate the find came from room P04 (the King's Bedchamber), and its archive reference is 564-343. If the letters 'US' appear where the context number should be, it indicates that the item is unstratified.

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