The original hammerbeam roof was removed in 1800, along with the decorative crenellated parapet, when the hall was subdivided to form barracks. Two floors and five cross-walls were inserted, and the windows were altered accordingly. As early as 1893, calls were being made for the restoration of the Great Hall, but it was not until the army left in 1965 that the opportunity arose.
It was agreed that a historically correct restoration could be achieved, and works began which were only completed in 1999. The hammerbeam roof and parapet were replaced, windows reinstated, and the outer walls were limewashed.
This magnificent banqueting hall is the largest of its kind ever built in Scotland and was used for feasts, dances and pageants. Completed for James IV in 1503 it has four pairs of tall windows at the dais end, where the king and queen sat, and was heated by five large fireplaces. There are galleries for minstrels and trumpeters.
In 1594 James VI held a banquet in the hall for the baptism of his son Prince Henry. It was so lavish that the fish course was served from an enormous model wooden ship complete with firing cannons.
The exterior walls are a distinctive colour, rendered in Royal Gold harling, as they would have been in the 1500s.
On the east side of the Inner Close is the Great Hall, or Parliament Hall. This was built by James IV following on from the completion of the King's Old Building in 1497, and was being plastered by 1503.
Described as "the grandest secular building erected in Scotland in the late Middle Ages", it represents the first example of Renaissance-influenced royal architecture in that country.
It was worked on by a number of English craftsmen, and incorporates some English design ideas, being comparable to Edward IV's hall at Eltham Palace, built in the late 1470s. It includes Renaissance details, such as the intersecting tracery on the windows, within a conventional medieval plan.
Inside are five fireplaces, and large side windows lighting the dais end, where the king would be seated.
It is 42 by 14.25 metres (137.8 by 46.8 ft) across, making it the largest such hall in Scotland.