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This 19th century signet ring is stamped “STIRLING SILVER” on the inside and was probably worn by a man. However, the ring has no hallmark which is unusual, and would have been illegal at the time. It is suspected that the ring is a fake, imitation alloy.

Signet rings were common in the medieval period. They were worn by upper class people like nobles and royals. These rings had special crests or coats of arms on them. These acted like signatures and would be used to stamp wax seals. In the 19th century, signet rings were very stylish and worn by all social classes for fashion, rather than for use as a wax seal.

The use of metal alloy, which is cheaper than a precious metal like silver, suggests the ring was made to look pricey but was actually cheap. This meant people with less money could keep up with the trends of the time.

Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle has many nooks and crannies to explore. Originally a simple tower house residence, the castle grew into a complex of structures and spaces as each owner improved its comfort and facilities.

Its gardens and parkland were also important. The present day Craigmillar Castle Park reminds us of the castle’s days as a rural retreat a short distance from Scotland’s capital.

The original tower house of the late 1300s is at the core. Craigmillar was among the first of this type of castle to be built in Scotland.

The tower house:

  • stands 17m tall to its battlements
  • has walls almost 3m thick
  • holds a maze of rooms, including a fine great hall on the first floor

The courtyard wall, built in the 1400s, is well preserved, with gunholes shaped like inverted keyholes. A private family chapel and other secondary buildings lie inside the wall.

The west range was rebuilt after 1660 as a family residence for the Gilmour family.

Royal guest turned prisoner

Queen Mary’s Room, on the first floor of the tower house, is where Mary Queen of Scots is said to have slept in 1566. But it’s more likely that she had a multi-roomed apartment when she stayed at Craigmillar, probably in the east range.

Owner Sir Simon Preston was a loyal supporter of Mary, who had appointed him Provost of Edinburgh. Ironically, he would become her jailer for her first night as a prisoner after her capture in 1567. Mary was taken from his townhouse in the High Street to Lochleven Castle the next day.

Natural history

A number of fine ‘veteran’ trees stand in the grounds. One old sycamore to the south of the castle has grown around a drystone dyke.

Some of the plants growing by the castle were likely part of the original castle garden. These include Good-King-Henry – once widely eaten as a vegetable.

Find out more about Craigmillar Castle

Details

Date Made
1800-1899
Dimensions
l 22mm (l 7/8")
Property Information
Craigmillar Castle
Object Number
CRM002
Access Status
Storage

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