Stirling – Kirkintilloch (north of Glasgow on B 8036)

Saturday 7 July 2018  

Today In Stirling we visited:

  • Stirling Castle and passed the Old Town Jail and Church of Holy Rude
  • William Wallace Monument
  • Battle of Bannockburn.

This was a day of understanding a lot of important Scottish history.

Leaving the motorhome in the carpark we walked through the cobbled streets of Stirling’s lovely old town and up the hill to Stirling Castle.

On the way we passed the Old Town Jail, which was first opened in 1847 and has tours which show how it would have been like to be imprisoned in the 1800’s.  04 Stirling Old Town Jail

The Church of Holy Rude a medieval building which dates back to the early 15th century and is where James VI was anointed King of Scots in 1567.

 

We continued up the steep incline to Stirling Castle which stands on a rocky crag overlooking the River Forth and the Campsie Highlands and this is why it was such a strategic prized possession to control throughout Scotland’s history. The original castle was built in 1110 and the current castle dates from the late 14th to the 16th century. It is free for Historic Scotland members with an audio guide included.  We went on a free guided tour and the highlights were the Great Hall, Chapel Royal in which Queen Mary was crowned and the Royal Palace which is covered in unique carved stone work. After this we went to the Castle exhibition where there is an excellent display of the history presented in a chronological timeline. Stirling Castle is a fantastic place to visit and helps to bring   together the history of the Stewart power and determination and the English forces they encountered.

 

We then returned to our motorhome and drove to The National Wallace Monument, a 67-metre sandstone tower completed in 1869 standing on Abbey Craig, a hilltop overlooking Stirling. The monument commemorates William Wallace, the Scottish patriot and martyr who triumphed over King Edward’s army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297.  This is where Wallace was said to have watched the gathering of the army of King Edward I of England just before the battle. On the way we passed the Battle Bridge which is where the English army crossed over the River Forth and were defeated by a combined force led by Wallace.65 Battle of Stirling Bridge

 

There is a wooded path with information panels and carved wooden figures from the Ice age to 1886 which leads to the Wallace Monument which is a unique way of introducing historical information.

When we arrived at the monument there we two men dressed in period costumes re-enacting a scene from the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297.  It was a hilarious and thoroughly entertaining piece of drama which depicted the English and Scot sides of the Battle. The monument itself is quite stunning and in the front corner is a statue of Wallace. The movie Braveheart is based on the Battle of Stirling Bridge but Mel Gibson’s portrayal of William Wallace has some inaccuracies like the blue and white face paint was not of that era, it was from the Picts 600 years earlier.

 

Our next stop was Bannockburn, to visit the Battle of Bannockburn which is run by National Trust for Scotland and is free to members. This is the battlegrounds where Robert the Bruce defeated the English in the summer of 1314 which was a significant Scottish victory in the First War of Scottish Independence and is the inspiration of the Scottish National Anthem, Flower of Scotland below.

O Flower of Scotland

When will we see

Your like again,

That fought and died for,

Your wee bit Hill and Glen,

And stood against him (against who?),

Proud Edward’s Army,

And sent him homeward,
To think again.

 

At the Visitor Centre we booked into a tour, received our 3D glasses and whilst we waited we walked through the battleground, which looks like a parkland and admired the commemorative monuments and a huge statue of Robert the Bruce. As there are no relics from the battle, visitors are immersed in 3D technology beginning with a brief and thrilling chapter of Scotland’s story.  Then we walked into another room where we were introduced to the battle armoury and strategies of war. Following this we went into another room where we took the place of English and Scottish forces in a medieval strategic combat on a virtual battlefield to try and recreate the battle, with the guide who controlled the advances of our armies.  It was a very challenging game to be involved in. At the completion of the experience he then went through the actual battle using the diorama as a way of explaining what actually happened back in 1314.  It was a very unusual but a thought provoking way of developing an understanding of the battle which took place.

We then drove to Kirkintilloch and wild camped on the Canal of Clyde and Forth on Luggiebank Road.  It was a lovely quite spot.

 

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