The Wallace Monument is well seen from the Stirling Castle because it is a is a 67-metre sandstone tower standing on the summit of Abbey Craig a hilltop near Stirling.
It commemorates Sir William Wallace, the 13th century Scottish hero who was said to have watched the gathering of the army of King Edward I of England, just before the Battle of Stirling Bridge. We all know an of Wallace's life is presented in the 1995 film Braveheart, directed by and starring Mel Gibson as Wallace.
The tower was constructed in 1869 in the Victorian Gothic style.
You can watch my 3 min 37 sec Video From England to Scotland by bus part 2 out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
Stirling Castle Highlights
When visiting the Stirling Castle you will see:
the Statue of Robert the Bruce on the castle esplanade;
the Forework - entry to the main part of the castle;
the Royal Palace with Renaissance-period statues;
the Chapel Royal which was later modified for military use, housing a dining room;
the Grand Battery dates back to the days of the first Jacobite Rising in 1689;
the Great Hall which was built for James IV around 1503 now following restoration;
the King's Old Building that is over 500 years old;
the French Spur - part of the Outer Defences, looking eastward;
two Gardens within the castle, the southern one including a bowling green;
the Nether Bailey, looking northward;
the north gate and the Wallace Monument from the distance, commemorates the actions of William Wallace.
You can watch my 3 min 25 sec Video Scotland Stirling Castle part 2 out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
I realise that many of my tips here on Virtual Tourist involve pubs and bars and I make no apology for it. I certainly do not wish to offend anyone who does not indulge in alcohol for religious, medical or any other reason and I know of no bar in the world (I have been in a few) where you are forced to drink alcohol. I offer this tip as an interesting place of historical interest and if you want to go there and have an orange juice or mineral water I am sure you will be most welcome.
Enough explanation and on to the tip. I do love pubs, the older the better, as I find them to be endlessly fascinating and the Settle in Stirling is no exception. As I explained, I only spent a few hours in the town, a situation I certainly hope to rectify very soon. Having been running about all day and having a wonderful time in Dunfermline, Culross and the simply incredible Falkirk Wheel I really fancied a drink. My friend suggested a place of (their) long acquaintance and I was, as always, quite happy to accede to local knowledge, no matter how old! I am so glad I did as this place is an absolute little gem.
On entering it was immediately obvious that this was no tourist bar in a place that relies increasingly on that industry. It was a proper "working mans" local pub. Great stuff, that is a good start. I ordered the drinks and was immdiately struck by the accent of the barmaid. No central Scottish burr here, pure Northern Irish which was great as I am from there as well. Drinks duly purchased, I set off for a look round the pub and it really is a fascinating building in addition to being an excellent place for a drink.
I suppose the Settle Inn should have a lot of history and a few stories to tell as it dates back to 1733 but I was surprised at some of the things I found out. I bumped into the owner / manager who saw me taking pictures. I explained about VT and he was extremely helpful, answering all my many questions about his establishment including telling me about the use of the "back bar" as a prison cell for prisoners during the Napoleonic Wars. Looking at the construction of the place, I can usderstand why they used it. I cannot imagine how you would ever get out of here as the room backs onto a very huge lump of rock. No "Great Escape" here, I feel. The man could really not have been friendlier and you can see him in one of the images.
I saw signs indicating regular music events here although we were there early week and it was fairly quiet. All in all, a brilliant, friendly and historic place and I really recommend a visit here if you are in town.
I appreciate that there are people who would suggest that writing a VT tip on something as mundane and common in the UK as a war memorial (in this case more than one) is hardly helpful to the traveller but I disagree. I have a number of interests when I travel and UK war memorials are one of them. If anyone has an interest in the subject, I thoroughly recommend the Imperial War Museum site. The IWM, which is internationally renowned as one of the foremost authorities in relation to war, is involved in a project to catalogue every memorial in the UK. I am surprised this has not happened before and I fully support it. It also means that I always take images of memorials wherever I find them for submission to the site.
When I arrived in Stirling it was getting on in the evening. As my introduction page relates, I only spent a few hours here and my meagre tips relate to visiting a wonderful pub, having an excellent Thai meal and then heading off. However, there is always something to see and write about. In this case it is a number of memorials right outside the front entrance to the hugely impressive castle which are all dedicated to the 75th Regiment of Foot, the Stirlingshire Regiment. If you are not aware, in times past, British Army regiments were generally county based and given a number indicating their seniority in the OB (Order of Battle). OK, it is outdated now but was very important historically.
to my shame, I had never heard of the Stirlings although a little research shows that they were raised in 1787 and subsequently subsumed into the Gordon Highlanders. Still further down the line they were further amalgamated and amalgamated due to defence cuts and are now part of the fairly generic Royal Regiment of Scotland. I have my own views on that but this is not the place for that.
I am not going to write a tip on each individual memorial as they are all within feet of each other and if you see one, you will see them all. I would urge the traveller, as with any other such memorial, to pause a while and have a look at the lists of names. It is easy to be blase about these things but every name hear represents someone that died serving their country. I was interested to see that the Stirlings had served and died in both India (1857 - 8) including the Seige of Delhi and later in the South African War (1899 - 1902). It made me think a bit that the second conflict mentioned was withing the lifetime of all four of my grandparents, so it is not ancient history.
Anyway, here are a few images and I do urge the traveller to stop and have a look if they are going to the rightfully much-visited Castle. Best of all, you do not have to pay the admission fee to enter the Castle to see these memorials.
A 17th century townhouse, just across the street from the Castle. It was a home of the Duke of Argyll, hence the name.
It also belongs to Historic Scotland, the owners of the Castle, and as I understand it you can only visit as part of a trip to the Castle. A guided tour is compulsory. It cost an extra £2 per person on top of the Castle entrance. Worth it.
It is not in its original state inside, but has been restored using records from the past so that it is genuine.
Our guide was excellent.
Another landmark which you see from all around, and as you drive along the M9 motorway. It's built on a hill in the middle of the River Forth flood plain, so highly visible.
We didn't allow enough time to see it all, so will have to return to see the Chapel Royal, kitchens, Regimental Museum, Royal Buildings etc. I reckon about half a day is needed to take it all in comfortably.
We did see the Palace, the Heads Gallery and the Great Hall. Very impressive, all.
I liked the Castle much more than Edinburgh. It's hard to explain why.
You can book entrance tickets on the internet, and miss possible queues at the entrance. I had a problem with the booking I made this way, and the duty manager was very helpful about sorting it when we arrived. My refund should be credited to my card, according to the email I received a couple of days later.
Cost was £13 per adult, and that includes the audio guide. A guided tour is also available - can't remember if it's extra.
You can park in front of the Castle - £4 for half a day. We had to wait about 15mins in a queue, and that must be worse at busy times (a wet & windy January day is hardly peak time).
Pick a good weather day if you can. You'll be walking from building to building, and would want to see the Queen Anne Garden too.
A tour of Argyll's Lodging nearby is an extra £2 - well worth it. I'll do a separate tip on it.
I'll also do a tip on the Unicorn Cafe.
How many times have I seen this landmark from a distance, or even driven past it? Countless.
Well, the other day I went in. Or up, rather (see below).
The monument was built in the 19th century, and stands on the top of the Abbey Craig. You'll find car parks and a visitor centre at the foot of the hill, and that's where you buy your admission ticket. Parking is free.
A shuttle bus will take you up the hill. You can walk (say 15 mins) but when we were there (2 Jan) weather and ground conditions were a trifle adverse. The bus was ideal.
The monument has several indoor upper floors with exhibits etc, and those include Wallace's sword. The observation floor at the top is open to the elements. When we were there it was too windy than to do anything except huddle together for warmth & protection. On a good day the views must be wonderful.
Like most such "attractions" in Scotland you're left wondering if it was value for money, at £7.75 per adult for something which will occupy your attention for little more than an hour.
Another Historic Scotland property, just down the road from the castle. If you visit the castle first you don't have to pay extra to see the Lodging, otherwise its about £2.50. You can see around the building by guided tour which explains the history of the building and the people who lived there, and you can see the kitchens, reception room as well as the more homely furnished apartments upstairs. The rooms have been restored to how they would have looked around 1680.
Worth a visit!
We stayed at the University of Sterling in June in one of the student housing apartments. There were 7 of us in our group and the flat had enough single bedrooms(each with a sink), two showers and two toilets plus a complete kitchen, dining area and small commons area. Bedding was provided and even the beds were comfortable. There were other families and various size groups in other buildings surrounding the grassy center commons area . One of the best parts was the easy walk to the washing/drying machines. The city bus made regular stops at the complex so it wasn't necessary to have car. The campus is beautiful and it was quiet and peaceful at night. It was ideal for the members of our group who liked to jog in the early morning or late in the evening. It was previously a 300 acre estate with gardens, loches,streams and stately trees. The main student center/sports facilities was about a ten minute walk from our rooms. There is even a golf course on the campus. These rooms are available during the summer break. It really helped to be able to store and prepare some of the meals especially when traveling with a group. We met such a variety of interesting people (the laundromat is a great meeting place) it added to a nice touch to our visit.
This quaint and quirky building dates back to 1639 known as Cowan's Hospital. It was never used as a hospital in the proper sense of the word but rather an almshouse usually set up for the poor or elderly. In this case Thomas Cowan opened the almshouse as a place of refuge for bankrupt merchants. Today it is an ancestral centre where you can trace your roots if indeed your ancestors came from the Stirling area. Open in summer months only entrance is free.
As long as there has been a castle in Stirling there has been a Royal Chapel. The Chapel you see today was built for James Vl for the occassion of his infant Son Hendry's Christening on the 30th. August 1594 the King beleived the infant would inherit the unified crown which he did not. Later the Chapel was lavishly decorated for a visit from Charles l in 1633. During the garrison days the Chapel had a far less religious purpose. It was used as a canteen and training room. Restoration work started here in 1930 but it took until 1996 before work was finally completed including the reproduction of decorations for Charles visit. We had the little Chapel to ourselves, it was a marvelous experience to visit a place painstakingly restored, creating great beauty, with quiet, peaceful and reverent thoughts.
Conversions and extentions on the 16th. Century Town House began in 1630 when the Town House became home to the Earl of Stirling. Further extentions were added in 1670 when the 9th. Earl of Argyll and his Lady set up home here. From the early 1800's the building was used as a military hospital and more recently as a Youth Hostel. Today Argyll's Lodgings have been completely restored to show what life was like for the rich anyway in 1630. We had a pleasant time here exploring all the lavishly furnished rooms with no other tourists around to spoil the view. My favourite room was the bedchamber with its17th. Century En suite but I fear I could never sleep here with those heavy purple drapes! On entry we showed the girl our ticket for the castle which provides free entry and as you can see you are free to use photography - a rare thing for Historic Scotland who own this building. Open all year (except Christmas, Boxing Day & New Year's Day) April - September 9.30 - 18.00 October - March 9.30 - 17.00 Adult price if you don't visit the castle £4.50 Child £2.25 Seniors £3.50
This is the view from the esplanade at Stirling Castle looking over towards the Ochil hills and also the Wallace Monument . The castle sits high up so it has pretty amazing views of the surrounding countryside. .
Also situated next to the Church of the Holy Rude and backing onto the Back Walk, is this old hospital which was built in the 1640's for unsuccessful merchants. The statue at the front is of John Cowane who was the hospitals founder, and allegedly it comes alive on Hogmanay!
I have been thinking of how to describe in a few words the origins of he castle, and I've decided, if you don't mind, to copy and paste, just for the first and the last time; I do hope you forgive me, but I am recognising it.
"Stirling Castle is first mentioned around 1110, in Alexander I’s reign; he died here in 1124. Throughout the Wars of Independence with England (1296–1356), Stirling was hotly fought over, changing hands frequently. Bloody battles were fought in its shadow – Wallace’s great victory over Edward I at Stirling Bridge (1297), and Bruce’s decisive encounter with Edward II at Bannockburn (1314). Bruce then destroyed the castle to prevent it falling into enemy hands again".
- Main: Entrance
- Third: Outer close
- Fourth: Bowling Green Garden