National War Museum – The Poppy: A Symbol of Remembrance

In 2018 Edinburgh Castle presented a new exhibition ‘The Poppy: A Symbol of Remembrance’  to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War. The exhibition, which explores the symbolism of the poppy, was our latest project with The National Museums Scotland War Museum at the time. It was included in the price of admission to the castle, so it made it an added reason to pop up to the castle throughout the summer months and on to winter, the exhibition ran from 30 March 2018 to 27 January 2019.

Exploring the National War Museum in Edinburgh Castle

Nestled within the historic and majestic Edinburgh Castle, the National War Museum offers a profound journey through Scotland’s military history. This museum, located in the heart of Scotland’s capital, provides visitors with a deep and engaging understanding of the country’s wartime past, showcasing artifacts, stories, and exhibits that span several centuries.

A Historical Treasure Trove

The National War Museum is housed within Edinburgh Castle, a site that itself has a rich history dating back over a thousand years. The castle, perched on Castle Rock, provides a fitting backdrop for a museum dedicated to the history of Scottish conflict and military achievements. The museum occupies several buildings within the castle complex, each filled with exhibits that detail Scotland’s involvement in various wars and battles.

Exhibits and Collections

The museum’s collections are extensive and varied, offering something for everyone interested in military history. Visitors can explore displays of weapons, uniforms, medals, and other military equipment that have been used by Scottish soldiers over the years. Each artifact tells a story, providing insight into the lives of those who served and the conflicts they endured.

Weapons and Armor: The museum boasts an impressive array of weapons and armour, ranging from medieval swords and suits of armour to modern firearms and tactical gear. These exhibits highlight the evolution of military technology and the changing nature of warfare through the ages.

Uniforms and Regalia: Another fascinating aspect of the museum is its collection of military uniforms and regalia. These items illustrate the distinct traditions and identities of various Scottish regiments, showcasing their unique styles and the pride they take in their service.

Medals and Decorations: The museum also features a significant collection of medals and decorations awarded to Scottish soldiers. These medals tell stories of bravery, sacrifice, and honour, shedding light on the personal experiences of those who have served in the military.

Stories of Conflict

Beyond the physical artifacts, the National War Museum delves into the human stories behind the wars. Through photographs, letters, and personal accounts, visitors gain an intimate understanding of the experiences of Scottish soldiers. These stories span from the early days of clan warfare and the Wars of Independence, through the world wars of the 20th century, to more recent conflicts.

The World Wars: Significant attention is given to Scotland’s role in the World Wars. Exhibits include detailed accounts of battles, personal stories from soldiers, and displays of the equipment and technology used during these tumultuous periods. The museum honours the memory of those who fought and died, providing a poignant reminder of the costs of war.

Modern Conflicts: The museum also addresses Scotland’s involvement in more recent conflicts. Exhibits cover peacekeeping missions, modern warfare, and the continuing evolution of military strategy and technology.

Educational and Interactive Elements

The National War Museum is not just about static displays. It offers a range of interactive exhibits and educational programs designed to engage visitors of all ages. Touchscreen displays, multimedia presentations, and hands-on activities help bring history to life, making it accessible and interesting for younger audiences and those new to military history.

Visiting the Museum

A visit to the National War Museum is an integral part of any trip to Edinburgh Castle. The museum is open year-round and included in the admission price to the castle. This accessibility ensures that a wide audience can experience the rich military history that the museum has to offer.


The National War Museum in Edinburgh Castle is a vital repository of Scotland’s military heritage. Through its extensive collections, engaging exhibits, and compelling personal stories, the museum provides a comprehensive overview of the country’s wartime past. For anyone interested in history, military or otherwise, a visit to this museum is both educational and deeply moving. It stands as a tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of Scottish soldiers throughout history and offers invaluable insights into the impacts of war on a nation.