01.06 Stirlings Heads To Return To Castle

From Clan Stirling Wiki

Restoration efforts are underway at Stirling Castle. Plans call for the famous carved "Stirling Heads", along with surviving sketches for two others to be displayed in the restored section of the castle. Originally the heads were located inside the palace, in the King's presence chamber. There were 56 oak-carved heads, representing many of his courtiers, along with gods and heroes from Classical antiquity.

Known as "The Stirling Heads", and carved in the 1540s, they are perhaps the supreme example of renaissance iconography in Scotland. The courtiers are depicted in the style of classical gods at some sort of celestial court, and this reflects the Renaissance hankering for the cultural glories of classical Rome and Greece. Thirty three of them survive, and there are sketches for two others that were lost. 38 of the original 56 heads survive today, and they would have fitted into an oak framework on the ceiling of the king's chamber - a fairly common feature in many palaces on the continent at the time. Historic Scotland is planning to put them on public display as part of the restoration of the castle's royal palace. The aim of the project is to return the castle to how it looked in the 1540s.

Dr Sally Rush, lecturer from Glasgow University's history of art department, believes the heads may include portraits of James I and James V, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, the English King Henry VIII and his sister Margaret Tudor. "Had you walked into the king's presence chamber when the ceiling was complete, I think you would have seen a whole sequence of Stewart kings: all the James from I to V. It was a statement by James V to say that his dynasty went back a long way in an unbroken line and had the inalienable right to rule over Scotland." said Rush. "The presence of Henry VIII and Margaret Tudor, mother of James V, is a reminder of his claim to the English throne."

"Had you walked into the king's presence chamber when the ceiling was complete, I think you would have seen a whole sequence of Stewart kings: all the James from I to V. "It was a statement by James V to say that his dynasty went back a long way in an unbroken line and had the inalienable right to rule over Scotland." said Rush. "The presence of Henry VIII and Margaret Tudor, mother of James V, is a reminder of his claim to the English throne."

The palace was built by James V around 1538 as a home for his French bride Mary de Guise

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