Going Medieval: Edinburgh

Constance Perry’15 tours Scotland’s capital city and sees a treasure hidden below Edinburgh’s busy streets.

Thursday marked our departure from the Highlands. We trekked from Inverness back to Edinburgh, this time, exploring a whole different side of the Scottish countryside.

We stopped at the site of the Battle of Culloden. This battlefield was the location of the final confrontation in the Jacobite uprising. The Jacobite army consisted of mainly Scottish Highlanders trying to displace the House of Hanover and restore the House of Stuart to the British throne. At this site, they had suffered a brutalizing defeat.

Highland cattle cozied up to one another in a pasture outside of the battlefield. These stoic animals seemed bewildered as we took sorority-style squat photos outside of their pasture.

Navigating off the beaten path, our tour guide Mac also took us to see Craigh na Dun, the ancient stone circle featured in the Outlander series. Shortly after visiting the ancient rocks, we stumbled upon (or rather they stumbled upon us) two new Scottish friends—wild boar.

Continuing home, we stopped at Stirling Castle. Unlike Edinburgh Castle, Stirling has been renovated for a modern appeal. The castle’s entrance presents conflicting images of both history and the corniness of an amusement park.

Finally, to end our trek, our beloved tour guide played the bagpipes to the tune of “Happy Birthday,” wishing our own Mollie Jones ’15 an amazing birthday in true Scottish style.

On Friday, our last day in Edinburgh, we went to the National Museum of Scotland and visited The Real Mary King's Close. With its streets mysteriously hidden away from daylight, the Close was my favorite attraction in Scotland.

Our interactive tour was led underground. We walked through history alongside Ethan, our dramatic tour guide who never broke character.  We were shown plague doctors, the living quarters of both the rich and poor, and the slanted streets of a much older Edinburgh. Emerging from the Close into the chilled air of modern Edinburgh was a displacing experience. Haunted by images of a much older time, I felt like I was walking through two different time zones and bordering two different stories of Scotland's capital city.

We began the journey back home to Orlando early the next morning. Of course, our  field study is far from over. In the next two months, Associate Professor Emily Russell and Assistant Professor Jana Mathews will take us on two other immersive experiences—one to Walt Disney World and another to the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park mermaid show.