Stirling Travel Blog› entry 12 of 38 › view all entries
The rock had probably been used defensively since the Iron Age, but the first record of a castle comes from the early 12th century when Alexander I had a castle chapel dedicated and endowed. The castle's most famous period in history was during the late 13th and early 14th century when it played a prominent part in the conflict between England and Scotland. The castle fell into the hands of the English on several occasions and the famous Scottish victories at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 and the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 were made to regain control of Stirling Castle.
During the reign of the Stewarts the castle was turned into an impressive royal residence. King James IV built the King's Old Building and the Great Hall, and his son, James V, built the magnificent Palace of Stirling to house his French queen, Mary of Guise. The young King James VI spent much of his childhood at the castle and his contribution to the development of the castle was to rebuild the Chapel Royal. On the death of Queen Elizabeth, James succeeded to the English throne and moved south to make his home in England. This marked the end of Stirling's role as a royal residence.
The defences of the castle were strengthened to counter a potential Jacobite threat, and these defences were put to the test in 1746 when Prince Charles Edward Stewart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) unsuccessfully laid siege to the castle. This was the last military action the castle saw, but it remained in use by the army until 1964. Since then there has been an effort to strip away many of the more recent modifications and restore much of the castle to its earlier splendour.
At the top of Castle Wynd in the middle of Stirling's historic old town.
All apartments in the castle are accessible apart from the Museum of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Only the medieval kitchens and Elphinstone Tower are not suitable for visitors using wheelchairs. The ground floor of the shop and the book shop are accessible.
- Parking on castle esplanade, disabled spaces. Visitors with disabilities may be offered the monument’s courtesy vehicle.
- Alternatively, visitors may take their own vehicles into the castle with the agreement of the head steward.
- There are toilets
- There are shops
- There is a self service restaurant
- Suitable for picnics
- No dogs
- Guided tours available
- Audio guides available
The Wallace Monument, Stirling
The National Wallace Monument (generally known as the Wallace Monument) is a tower standing on the summit of Abbey Craig, a hilltop near Stirling in Scotland. It commemorates William Wallace, the 13th century Scottish hero.
The tower was constructed following a fundraising campaign which accompanied a resurgence of Scottish national identity in the 19th century. In addition to public subscription, it was partially funded by contributions from a number of foreign donors, including Italian national leader Giuseppe Garibaldi. Completed in 1869 to the designs of architect John Thomas Rochead, the monument is a 220 foot sandstone tower, built in the Victorian Gothic style. It stands on the Abbey Craig, a volcanic crag above Cambuskenneth Abbey, from which Wallace was said to have watched the gathering of the army of English king Edward I, just before the Battle of Stirling Bridge.
The monument is open to the general public. Visitors climb the 246 step spiral staircase to the viewing gallery inside the monument's crown, which provides expansive views of the Ochil Hills and the Forth Valley.
A number of artifacts believed to belong to Wallace are on display inside the monument, including the Wallace Sword, a 5 foot 4 inch-long claymore.
Quite regularly cyclists attempt to cycle up the pathway from the car park to the monument - some say, given the grade and surface, that this is an act of lunacy - the moniker for this particular climb is 'le pimple', a somewhat tongue in cheek reference!
Braveheart: Cultural significance
Statue portraying Wallace in the film Braveheart , at the foot of the Wallace monumentIn 1997, a statue of “William Wallace” was placed in the car park of the Wallace Monument. The statue however appeared not to resemble the historic face of Wallace; rather it seemed to be modelled after Mel Gibson's appearance as Wallace in the film Braveheart.
William Temby claimed that Scottish people found this disturbing and that groups have agitiated for the removal of the statue due to its obvious lack of authenticity. Officials denied this request, and the statue has been subject to regular vandalism. As a result it was, incongruously for a sculpture that bears the word "freedom", enclosed in a security fence. According to the Rampant Scotland Newsletter, as of September 2004, with the lease for the space it occupies due to expire, the statue was for sale at an asking price of £350,000 with no takers. This discontent may be responsible for noticeable damage inflicted upon the statue's nose.