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Stirling History
Stirling History

Stirling History

History Sightseeing throughout Stirling

Wallace Monument

Designed by J.T. Rochead, a Scottish architect, the foundation stone of Wallace Monument has been laid on the 24th June 1861 and was opened to the public eight years later in 1869.

Cambuskenneth Abbey

The Abbey got built in the 1200s after being founded by Kind David I in about 1140. It’s purpose was to serve the royal castle in Stirling.
The now still surviving structure dates back to then.
The Abbey in it’s erstwhile structure featured an eight-bay nave with a north aisle, a choir and a square-ended presbytery flanked by two transepts, each with two chapels as well as a cloister to the south of the church.
The still standing bell tower is with its lancet windows and ornamental arcades, is unique in Scotland and a most excellent example of the 1200s architecture.
After King James III has been killed sometime during the rout after the battle of Sauchieburn in 1488 (between King James III and his son future King James IV), he was laid to rest in front of the high altar at Cambuskenneth Abbey, right next to Margaret of Denmark, his queen who past away two years before him.
In 1864 bones were excavated from the two graves and re-interred under a stone monument within the former choir.
Due to the reformation in some parts of Scotland the abbey is said to have been cast down by Reformers in 1559. Rumours also said that John Erskine, Earl of Mar, quarried the stones of the abbey to build Mar’s Wark in 1562.
The bell tower has been a useful lookout over the Carse of Stirling and due to that has been spared.

Stirling Bridge

The present stone bridge across the river Forth was built in the late 1400s or early 1500s.
It wass as the ‘gateway to the Highlands’ one of the most critical river crossings in Scotland, until the early 1800s.
As many of you might know, the now standing bridge is lying close to the battlegrounds of the famous Battle of Stirling Bridge (1297).
There are just a few medieval stone arched bridges left in Scotland and Stirling Old Bridge definitely counts to the best. It has four semicircular arches, supported by three piers and in the past must have had arched gates. Its full length is more than 80 metres.
The gates can’t be seen anymore today, they probably were removed when General Blackeney, governor of Stirling Castle, ordered the destruction of the south arch in 1745 in an attempt to forestall the Bonnie Princes forces on their march south during the first year of the forth and last big Jacobite Rising.
These days you will find a new bridge for wheeled traffic, the Old Bridge is just used for crossing the river on food or bike, for wheeled traffic it has been closed in 1832.

Beheading Stone

Local legend says that in the 15th century the stone has been used for beheadings. It is placed atop of “Mote Hill” (also called “The Heading Hill”) in Stirling, hundreds of years before it was used as a place for beheading his foes by King James I an ancient Pictish Fort stood there.

King’s Knot

Although today it is separated by a street from King’s Park when King’s Knot was first mentioned in 1190 it was part of King’s Park.
The ‘Aulde’ park was enlarged by a ‘Neu’ park in 1264 and has been used for deer and fox hunting.
Between 1490 and 1508 it went through a few major developments by creation of ditches, fish-pools, a vegetable garden and orchards.
In 1497 over 1,000 trees were planted. With the court moving south to Edinburgh in 1603, the gardens became neglected and overgrew with the years.
What you can see from the castle these days, the earthworks now called King’s Knot, have been laid out by William Watts in anticipation of the homecoming of Charles I.
The works took place from 1627 till 1629, four years before Charles I eventually received his Scottish coronation in 1633.
Queen Victoria complained about the state of the gardens in 1842 when she came to Stirling. King’s Knot was undertaken to restoration, during which the original orientation of King’s Knot might have been changed.
From the former royal gardens nothing except King’s Knot really survived till today. Nothing is known of the form of the former royal gardens anymore. But as long as King’s Knot is still there the once royal gardens won’t be completely lost.

Church of the Holy Rude

The Church of the Holy Rude counts after the castle as the second oldest building in the city of Stirling.
It has been founded in the first years of the reign of Kind David I of Scotland (1124 – 1153) in 1129.
It became known as the Parish Church of The Holy Rude of the Burgh of Stirling after king David II successor Robert II (1371 – 1390) founded the altar to the Holy Rude (‘Holy Cross’).
Along with most of Stirling the original church which has been founded by David I has been destroyed by a fire in March 1405, afterwards the Lord Chamberlain of Scotland made a grant to built a new church. About 1414, the Nave, South Aisle, with its rounded Scots pillars, Gothic arches and original oak-timbered roof and the Tower were completed.
On 29th July 1567 King James VI, son of Mary Queen of Scots was crowned King of Scotland, succeeding his mother in the line of Stewart king’s and queen’s.
In 1651 Stirling Castle was under siege by Comwell’s troops, bullet marks in the tower of Holy Rude still dating back to that year.
Except for Westminster Abbey the Church of the Holy Rude is the only still surviving church which saw a coronation and is still used today.

Mar’s Wark

Built by John Erskine, Earl of Mar, a moderate Protestant, out of stones from Cambuskenneth Abbey.
During the regency of Mary of Guise, Mar was governor of Edinburgh Castle (1554 – 1560). While supporting her mother he turned against Mary Queen of Scots after her second husband Lord Darnley was murdered in 1567.
Even though he lost the governorship in Edinburgh he became the keeper of Stirling Castle, his ancestors held this position occasionally ever since King Robert I.
While Mary’s infant son James VI lived at Stirling Castle, the Earl of Mar had custody over him.
Just a year before Mar’s death he followed Mary’s brother (Moray) as Regent, after Morays assassination in 1571.
After Mar’s death his widow, the dowager countess, took up residence at Mar’s Lodging.
In 1593 King James VI and Queen Anna stayed at the lodging.
While being used as barracks during the Jacobite Rising in 1715, when the rising failed the lodging got forfeitured as many others. Mar’s Wark got leased to the Town Council as a workhouse, where the homeless and poor people of Stirling received food and board in return for labour.
It was around that time when the name was changed to Mar’s Wark, a name it still holds till this day.
The workhouse was built up after the 1715 rising and it ended up damaged in the last Jacobite Rising of 1745-46, after which the workhouse needed to be moved elsewhere in Stirling.
The embellishments of Mar’s Wark façade include statuettes; heraldic and inscribed panels; dummy gargoyles carved to resemble cannon; humorous rhyming inscriptions; as well as the royal arms and those of Regent Mar and his countess on the towers.

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