Today, Stirling is a vibrant city, steeped in history yet offering a host of modern day attractions. You will also find plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants and a wide range of shopping, together with a fine selection of accommodation. Easily accessible by road and rail, Stirling is on the doorstep of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park as well as a string of vibrant local towns and villages.
Created as a Royal Burgh in 1124, Stirling offers a fascinating journey back in time for anyone with even a passing interest in Scottish history and heritage. Discover a unique tapestry of original, historic attractions that tell the story of our Scottish nation first hand. Perched high above the city is Stirling Castle (some say that it’s the greatest castle in all of Europe). Wander through the recently restored royal palace and apartments and meet the costumed interpreters who bring the history of Stirling Castle to life. In 1314 the castle was the prize fought over at the Battle of Bannockburn and was bombarded by Bonnie Prince Charlie, with his Jacobite army, in 1745. Entry to the castle also includes access to the Argyll’s Lodging – Scotland’s finest surviving 17th century townhouse and the Argyll Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum.
Stirling’s Old Town links Stirling Castle to the bustling city centre. By it’s cobbled streets you will find some of the finest examples of medieval and Renaissance churches and mansions in Scotland. One such building is the Toolbooth, the original jail and courthouse which also witnessed public executions until 1843. Nowadays its a thriving live music and entertainments venue retaining many of it’s original historic features. The Church of the Holy Rude, dating from 1456, hosted the coronation of King James VI, in 1567, under the watchful eye of Scottish Reformation leader John Knox. If you look closely you will see the musket shot marks from Cromwell’s troops during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms on the tower and apse. Across from the church is Cowane’s Hospital, also referred to as the Guildhall, dating back to the 17th century – today it’s home to John Cowane’s Coffee House and Iona Leishmann, Artist in Residence. The neighbouring Old Town Grave Yard rewards explorers with magnificent views as well as some of the oldest headstones in Britain.
Dominating the Stirling skyline from another dramatic rocky outcrop, the National Wallace Monument overlooks the site of the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Here, in 1297, William Wallace – Braveheart – outwitted a much larger English army, splitting their forces either side of the narrow bridge and claiming his place in history as Scotland’s National Hero.
Set amid the slowly winding curves of the River Forth, Cambuskenneth Abbey was the setting chosen by King Robert the Bruce for a historic parliament meeting in 1326. It is also the last resting place of King James III and his Queen, Margaret of Denmark.
Scotland owes its status as a proud nation to King Robert the Bruce’s great victory at the Battle of Bannockburn, beside Stirling, on 23rd and 24th June, 1314. The Scottish king’s triumph over the vastly superior army of Kind Edward II of England secured Scotland’s independence for the next 400 years. Visit the The Battle of Bannockburn Experience and re-live the dramatic story of the battle.
The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum is a treasure house of Stirling’s history, art and artefacts. Scottish history collections, fine art and archaeology are used in the main display, called ‘The Stirling Story’, which explores the history of the town over the past Millennium (entry is free).