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Things to do in Stirling, Central Scotland

In honour of HM Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee, Stirling was named Scotland's sixth city in 2002.

Stirling is one of the most important cities in Scotland's history and has borne witness to many of the important events of the past, which significantly shaped the country's future.

From very early times Stirling was established as a place of importance; the great rock was the obvious choice on which to build a fortress, and the flat lands beneath were the lowest point for a river crossing.

The exact date of the first settlement is uncertain, but it is believed that Stirling first became a fortification in the Iron Age. By the 12th century, it is recorded that Alexander I had a castle in Stirling where he died in 1124.

In 1297 the famous battle of Stirling Bridge took place, a triumphant day for Scotland when William Wallace defeated the English army.

These were turbulent times; the Scots and English were to fight many battles in the wars of independence.

Perhaps the most famous of all was the Battle of Bannockburn, which took place on the 24th June 1314, two miles south of Stirling.

King Robert the Bruce leading an army only one-third the size of the English side, broke the English lines and drove Edward II and his army from the field.

Stirling was a Royal Residence to the Stuart Kings during the 15th-17th centuries and a favoured seat of government, its castle strong and centrally situated. Mary Queen of Scots was baptised at Stirling Castle in 1543, where she spent her childhood.

During the Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745 Stirling was again besieged and at the centre of the troubles. One of the arches was removed from Stirling Bridge as an attempt to stop the Jacobite army entering Stirling.

Today Stirling is trouble free and a delightful place to visit. Most people start with a visit to the historic castle, where you can learn much of Scotland's history.

The visitor centre on the castle esplanade is a good place to start, where a film is shown, giving a brief history of the castle. The architectural splendour of the castle is unique, and can be seen in the Upper Square, Great Hall, the Palace and Chapel Royal.

The castle is home to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and houses a museum of their memorabilia.

The old town, which runs down from the castle is a fascinating place to visit, with its ancient streets, narrow wynds and wealth of historic buildings.

Among those you should see are Argyle's Lodging, the Church of the Holy Rude, Mar's Wark, John Cowane's Hospital, the Old Town Jail and Darnley's House.

Further down the hill, is the lively shopping area, the art gallery and a choice of restaurants and pubs.

Close to Stirling is the Wallace Monument, a magnificent memorial to one of Scotland's heroes.

The Battlefield of Bannockburn is within easy reach also the ruined Abbey of Cambuskenneth.

Tourist Information

41 Dumbarton Road
Tel:+44 (0) 1786 475 019

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