I could hardly contain my excitement as I drove up the tiny, winding road. Up I went, up, up, up. When would I ever get to the top?
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At last, with a sudden, final curve in the road, I was atop the hill. Standing before me was a colossal, weather-worn structure, defying the decaying grip of time. It was a castle. But not just any castle: this was the famed Castle Stirling, sitting among the green fields surrounding the town of Stirling, Scotland. I had always dreamed of visiting, and as I stood in awestruck wonder, gazing at the towering stone walls of the castle, I resisted the urge to pinch myself to see if I was really there.
It didn’t take long for me to rush through the giant wooden entry doors. I was so excited to tour this historical spot, home to kings, queens, knights, dukes, duchesses, and many more characters of old. Through cool, damp tunnels, I went, and along the thick parapets of stone. My eyes were filled with wonders at every turn.
Through another tunnel I traveled, leading to a large plot of vividly green grass, which, in turn, led to the outer wall. I hurried towards it. Climbing the steep steps to the top, I took a sharp intake of breath as I gazed on the lush, green fields which led to forested hills in the distance. “Am I on a movie set?” the fleeting thought popped into my head.
As my eyes took in the scene, they lighted on a lone, tall structure jutting upwards from the surrounding trees—the William Wallace monument, a testimonial to the bravery and sacrifice of the Scots to ensure their freedom. I could almost see the kilted, claymore-wielding band of soldiers fighting so valiantly against their more numerous foes. Battle cries rose from the green plain between the castle and the forest as the struggle dragged on. Suddenly, a deafening boom resounded from the castle battlements. The gentle breeze wafted the smell of gunpowder from a smoking canon as some prepared it for another blast….
Then I blinked, and I found myself standing on the outer wall, once again in the 21st century.
What was this strange thing I had experienced? It was the power of history. Little did I know the spell hanging over that ancient castle: the spell of the past. I hadn’t realized how flat history seemed to me—just something you read in thick, boring school books. But standing in a place so old, walking in the footsteps of real people from centuries gone by, history took on a new meaning. It took on the shape of reality—not just black ink on a white page, but people, real people.
My excitement was doubled with this new revelation of mine, that history is alive. I realized that this new change in thinking would impact the many travels I would take in the future, and I was eager to begin exploring anew this awe-inspiring world of the past.
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