A September 2003 trip
to Stirling by Re Carroll
Quote: At one time Stirling was the capital of Scotland, and it was here that patriots
like William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and Bonnie Prince Charlie fought for Scottish independence.An easy day trip from Glasgow or Edinburgh, Stirling is a must for anyone interested in Scottish history.
Restaurant | "Birds n Bees"
The menu is what you'd expect from a U.K. pub - steak-and-onion pie, cheese-and-pickle sandwich, ploughman's platter, Scottish beef, fish and chips, pasta, burgers, and Indian
food. Jim enjoyed their steak-and-onion pie, which was more like a pot pie with a puff-pastry crust and rich, flavourful gravy. Stephen and I each ordered a ploughman's platter, and there was so much food that we could have almost shared one between us. There was a varied assortment of cheeses: Stilton, apple smoked, sharp cheddar, and a type of brie. Accompanying this was
fresh sliced baguette, green salad, pickle relish, and mounds of pickled onions.
Isabel ordered a lighter meal - coronation chicken sandwich made with thick chunks of chicken in a curry mayonnaise that was served with a side salad. Our meals were delicious, portions were large, and the atmosphere was low-key and fun. Naturally, there was a good selection of British beers and cider, both on tap and in bottles.
The pub is open daily for lunch and dinner.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 9, 2003
Easter Cornton Road
Attraction | "The Wallace Monument"
To honour the man that many consider to be Scotland's greatest freedom fighter, public donations poured in from Scots people around the world, and The Wallace Monument was built in
1869 on a wooded hill on the outskirts of town.
The monument is a 220-foot-high Gothic tower. There is a large statue of Wallace in the parking lot and partway up the path to the monument is a piper in full regalia who serenades visitors. There are picnic tables set amid the grounds, and even from ground level at the monument, the views of Stirling Castle and town are excellent. The gift shop and coffee shop are open to all, and the only fee charged is to actually climb to the top of the monument.
After paying our £5 admission, we started the 246-step climb. The stairs are circular and
narrow, like a lighthouse, but there are narrow windows along the way that provide natural light and glimpses of the valley below. The tower has three separate levels that visitors can visit before reaching the top. The first is dedicated to Wallace's life from the early years through his struggles with the English and eventually his capture and execution. One of the focal pieces is his gigantic, double-handed broadsword, and there is a multimedia
presentation and a short film. The displays are well done and very informative, and you should allow about half an hour to see it all. The next level contains a chamber called The Scottish Hall of Heroes that features marble busts and information on many famous Scots, including Robert the
Bruce, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and explorer David Livingstone. Near the top is the final chamber that has a 360-degree diorama of the surrounding landscape. This was helpful for identifying landmarks when we eventually got to the outside viewing platform to enjoy the panoramic view. The view was somewhat obscured because of clouds, but I'm told that on a good day, Ben Lomond is visible in the distance.
The monument is open daily. Although anyone with mobility problems can't access the tower, shuttle buses from the parking lot run regularly to the base of the monument, and the view of Stirling Castle and the surrounding countryside is worth the ride.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 9, 2003
National Wallace Monument
Summit of Abbey Craig
Stirling, Scotland FK9 5LF
+44 (1786) 472140
We took a half-hour guided tour that was included in the admission price and then explored on our own in more detail. The golden-coloured
Great Hall is the most recognizable building. It was used for elaborate
feasts and entertainments. At one time, food was delivered on lion-pulled chariots, which made some guests wonder if they were going to eat or be eaten.
The Underground Tunnels used to contain the lions' den, as well as rooms for craftspeople - tailor, painter, wood carver, etc. Each room has
displays of the specific craft, including a replica of a dress belonging to Mary,
Queen of Scots in the tailor's room.
The Royal Chambers were the private living quarters for the King and Queen. A huge loom has been set up here, and a costumed lady-in-waiting is making a copy of one of the original tapestries that used to decorate the walls.
In 1507, John Damian, the King's alchemist, strapped on feathered wings and launched himself from the
Outer Wallsin an attempt to prove he could fly. Naturally, he went down
instead of up, breaking his leg when he landed in the garbage dump. Undaunted, he said the wings were faulty because they were made with feathers from chickens, which are ground birds. He said he would have
succeeded if he'd used eagle feathers, but there is no record of him trying to
prove this theory.
The Chapel Royal was where Scottish monarchs were crowned, including Mary Queen of Scots in 1543. Although that building was destroyed, the present one dates to 1594, and some of its original wall frescoes are still visible.
The massive kitchens are located directly below the battery in the Outer Close. At one time, the kitchens were filled in to make sure they didn't collapse under the weight of cannon, ammunition, etc.,
during defense of the castle. The kitchens have been excavated and showcase a cavernous fireplace and cooking area.
The Kings Old Building is now the site of the Museum of Argyll and Sutherland
Highlanders, the kilt-clad regiment that was founded in 1794. The museum is huge and features artifacts and displays from the regiment's early days until the present. Just outside, in the courtyard, is where James II stabbed the Earl of Douglas to death in 1452 after a violent argument. This was a terrible breach of protocol, because Douglas had been under a letter of
protection during his stay at the castle. To get the King out of a sticky
situation, it was determined that arguing with his monarch constituted treason
on Douglas's part. The penalty for treason was death, so the King was actually justified in killing him. Talk about getting away with murder!
The Castle is open daily throughout the year and admission is £7.50.
Stirling FK8 1EH
+44 (1786) 475165
It was built to house officials of the cathedral who were responsible for the welfare of the parish of Provan and were given the name Lord of the lands of Provan. When the Protestant Reformation swept Glasgow in the mid-1500s, the building became disused and was eventually sold to a private
Over the years, it has been owned by an aleman, a confectioner, and a hangman, which earned it the nickname Hangman's House. The building has been restored a couple of times, most recently in 2000, and is
now operated by the City of Glasgow District Council and Historic Scotland.
The interior doorways are short and narrow, and most people have to duck their head to enter the various rooms. The rooms contain
furniture from the 17th and 18th century that was donated by wealthy philanthropists, including Sir William Burrell, best known for the Burrell Collection in Pollok Country Park.
The main floor has lots of written
displays about the history of the house. The staircases to the second and third floors are narrow and low. They were added to the house in 1670; previously, there had been a central wooden stair with wooden balconies, but they deteriorated. The upper chambers contain pictures of some of
Scotland's famous historic figures - Charles Stuart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, Lord Darnley, husband to Mary Queen of Scots, and her son James VI (who also became James I of England). In one room hangs a wooden Coat of Arms from the 16th century that belonged to Henry Hastings, third Earl of Huntingdon (1536-95). Upper-floor windows are a combination of leaded and stained glass, and the sun's rays reflecting through them added a magical touch to the rooms. In the back of the house is a medieval herb garden which contains many plants that were used for medical purposes in the 15th century.
Entrance to the house is free.
3 Castle Street
Glasgow, Scotland G4 0RH
+44 141 552 8819
Abbotsford, British Columbia