September 7-8, 1967
We approached the tremendous Forth Road Bridge over the Firth of Forth, a modern multilane suspension bridge which offered a great contrast to the moors and pastureland and one lane roads. We reached the city of Edinburgh about 11 AM.
After breakfast, armed with our cameras and a packed lunch, we set out to explore Edinburgh. We walked down Princes Street past the Scott Memorial and then went again to the Castle. From the Castle we walked down the "Royal Mile" past St. Giles Cathedral to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. From there we climbed up the hill in Holyrood Park for an excellent view of the city.
Brenda in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh
We dropped by our room to prepare sandwiches for supper and were then off again to the Princes Street Gardens. We ate our sandwiches there and watched part of a free variety show in the park. There are also free band concerts daily during the summer.
I walked up the hill toward the Castle to take a picture of the sunset and was surprised to see droves of people heading toward the grandstands in the castle esplanade. We found out that the Military Tatoo was to be held there. We managed to get last minute tickets to sit on the steps. We were late for the start but it nevertheless proved to be a memorable occasion.
The formal Military Tatoo ceremony takes place in front of the Castle each night during the Edinburgh Festival. The original "tatoo" was the practice of a drummer, a flautist, and a gaurd who went around Edinburgh at the curfew time. Upon hearing the "tatoo" played, the pub owners were to expel all military people on the premises. This ceremonial tatoo was a display of the military uniforms, bands, etc. and was very colorful and impressive.
Included in the program were vehicle handling exhibitions, a display of military horses through the ages, an Italian Army physical fitness team, a band and entertainment team from Jamaica. The most interesting parts to me were the parts involving the various groups of the Scots Gaurds. I haven't been able to sort out the various groups and their functions but some wore the traditional "Redcoat" uniform with brillian crimson coats and black fuzzy hats. Others wore tartan trousers with a uniform coat. Perhaps the most interesting of all were the bagpipers in full highland dress - kilts and tartan scarves.
There was a gaurd changing ceremony involving the "Redcoats" and the pipers which was very nice. The sound of the bagpipers is very exciting to us. There is just no way to describe the spectacle of the flashing red coats, swing kilts, and the sound of the pipes. The starting of the pipes always brought a roar from the crowd."
The massed bands played several numbers. The one that brought the most response from the crowd was "St. Louis Blues".
The Edinburgh Casle illuminated after the Military Tatoo
As part of the Grand Finale the crowd sang "Abide With Me" with the accompaniment of the massed bands. The bands played "Eventide and Last Post" and they prepared to bring down the flags. This was really the most beautiful part of the ceremony. With the spotlights on the castle flags and with pipes playing, the Union Jack was slowly lowered. Finally as the flag was about to disappear from view a spotlight illuminated a lone piper high on the battlements of the Castle. In kilt and full highland attire he played the pipes beautifully as the lights were slowly dimmed. Finally there was no light except that which illuminated the lone piper high on the tower of the Castle. This was a fitting climax to a truly memorable ceremony - the Military Tatoo.