Stirling is a little town known as the Gateway to the Highlands. The ancient town used to be the stopping point for merchants in the medieval times as they traded between northern and southern Scotland. Stirling is the perfect day trip and far less crowded than Edinburgh or Glasgow. The streets will mostly be empty and you may have the entire castle to yourself – yep, a castle to yourself. Here are some more history packed reasons to visit historical Stirling:
Your Braveheart Will Go On
Stirling is possibly best known for a famous battle between the Scots and English during the Wars of Scottish Independence. Despite being severely out numbered, William Wallace lead the Scottish army to victory in 1297 and fought off the English. Today you can visit the memorial dedicated to Wallace. William Wallace sounds familiar? He is the very man who inspired the movie Braveheart.
2. Church of the Holy Rude
The Church of the Holy Rude is a medieval parish founded in 1129 making it the second oldest establishment in the city. A leader of the Reformation John Knox preached the sermon for the coronation of James VI the king who would commission an English translation of the Bible. This would be the Bible we know today.
James was crowned king at such a young age because Mary Queen of Scots was being tried for an alleged plot to assassinate Elizabeth I. If the assassination attempt were successful Mary Queen of Scots would reign over Scotland, Ireland, and England. Mary tried for treason lost her head.
3. They Had A Big Bad Wolf
According to legend. A band of Vikings had their eyes set on land later to be Stirling and occupied by a small group of Celtic villagers. They planned to attack in the dead of night but, upon hearing a pack of howling wolves they decided to retreat. To this day the wolf has been the symbol of Stirling! Here I thought they were just team Stark for the iron throne…
4. Another Castle Rock
Much like Edinburgh castle, Stirling castle sits high on a hill watching over the town below. Here is your chance to have some alone time with a Scottish castle. I visited on a Thursday and was pleasantly surprised to only run into maybe two hundred other travelers at the max. You have the option to join a free tour or wander about. I’m sure you know that I picked the latter. I even ventured into the underground barracks completely alone. Maybe? It certainly was dark and creepy. Be sure to walk the castle walls, check out the tapestry museum, and visit the royal chambers. Most of the displays are not original but, it seems the curators have taken special care to ensure an authentic experience!
5. Some More Mythic Beasts
Scotland’s national animal is the Unicorn. Naturally, the enemy of the lion which is a symbol of England.
6. Dragon’s Eye Views
Get snap happy. Stirling is terribly photogenic. Stroll along the castle walls to gain a 360 dragon’s eye view of the entire town. I don’t need to say much, the pictures speak for themselves:
7. Not the Argyll You Were Expecting
This lodge was built in the 17th century and was home to members of high society at that time. Be sure to visit the castle first – admission into the lavish townhouse is granted with a castle ticket!
8. Mar’s What?
Mar’s Wark or rather the remnants of a lodge from the 1560’s. The location is nothing particularly outstanding but, is in the care of Scotland’s historic society. The ruins are worth taking a peek as you visit the Church of the Holy Rude or the cemetery located behind the lodge. The front of the mansion has interesting stonework.
Been to Stirling? Share your experience!
Your Cobweb Clearer, Kate