Stirling Castle, Scotland Part 1: The Front

After a good night’s sleep in Glasgow, our first day in Scotland this year we drove to Stirling Castle and arrived just before it opened. Even though I’d been to Scotland before, I’d never visited Stirling. I remember on my first trip that my friend and I saw the Wallace Monument in the distance as our tour bus sped by the town several miles away. I decided then that I’d visit Stirling one day. :)



 When we arrived, it was a misty morning. Very Scottish.  I was afraid I’d meet another car and have a difficult time passing on the very narrow street, Upper Castlehill, that led up to the castle. Stirling Castle is situated on top of a long extinct volcano. But we had no problems. The view from the top out over the valley was spectacular, as was the Wallace Monument in the distance and the statue of Robert the Bruce which stands just in front of Stirling Castle. He was King of Scots 1306 to 1329.



The Wallace Monument (below) is a 220 feet high sandstone tower on the summit of Abbey Craig and commemorates Sir William Wallace. It was completed in 1869 and is of the Victorian Gothic style. Abbey Craig is another volcanic crag. Some say William Wallace watched the gathering English army from this hilltop just before the Battle of Stirling Bridge.




Since we were early, we walked around the perimeter of the parking area, where a lot of history can be seen. One of the first things that drew our attention was this pyramid. The Star Pyramid sits outside the Church of the Holy Rude (Holy Rude means Holy Cross) next to the Valley Cemetery. William Drummond commissioned William Barclay to build the pyramid in 1863 out of sandstone. A Bible and Confession of Faith were sealed inside the inner chamber.  It is dedicated to those who suffered martyrdom in the cause of civil and religious liberty in Scotland. A garden surrounds the structure. The Star Pyramid contains texts and emblems such as: Union Banner, Rock of Ages, Covenant Rest, Thrown of Right, a marble Bible, a carved circular rosette, a thistle and a crown with references to verses from the Psalms.




We saw the Church of the Holy Rude (below) but I didn't get a photo of the front of it. The first church which sat on this site was built in the 1100s. The oldest part of the current church is from the 1400s. The infant King James VI was baptized here in 1567. And he was also crowned here when he was 13 months old. The catholic Mary Queen of Scots worshiped here and the protestant John Knox preached here. In 1656, when a lot of the country was divided by religion, the church was divided into two parts by a wall. This wall wasn’t removed until 1936.






 The plaque below this sculpture above reads: Erected by the Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers & Men of the XCI [or 1st Battalion] Princess Louise’s [Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders] to the memory of these comrades who lost their lives in the service of their country during the South African War October 1899 to May 1902.



The Outer Defenses of Stirling Castle. Today’s entry gate was created between 1708 and 1714. It is a functional barrier that would have absorbed cannon fire. It has low but massive walls, pepper-pot sentry boxes and a deep ditch. Originally there was a drawbridge over this. Now it is a regular wooden bridge. Cannons were aimed at this spot to fire on any enemies during a siege. There were two firing galleries beyond the bridge where muskets would’ve been fired on attackers.



 The Forework was erected by King James IV and completed sometime around 1500 to 1506. It now appears to be a concealed inner entrance but was originally built as a highly visible and impressive façade. Hundreds of years ago it was five stories high with pointed conical roofs. The triplet gatehouse (a gatehouse with three doorways, a large one in the middle and two smaller ones on each side) was originally more than twice as high, topped with a wall walk.


Next time, I'll share more photos and we'll go inside the various buildings and rooms of Stirling Castle and also see more great views.
Thanks for checking it out!
Vonda
www.vondasinclair.com



Battle-hardened warrior Dirk MacLerie isn't who everyone thinks he is. He's Dirk MacKay, heir apparent to the MacKay chiefdom and Dunnakeil Castle on the far north coast of Scotland. When he returns home after a long absence, will his clan know him and will the duplicitous enemy who tried to murder him twelve years ago kill him in truth this time? 

Lady Isobel MacKenzie is a beautiful young widow betrothed to yet another Highland chief by her brother's order. But when her future brother-in-law accosts her and threatens to kill her, she is forced to flee into a Highland snowstorm. When she runs into a rugged and imposing man she thought dead, she wonders if he will turn her over to her enemy or take her to safety. 

Dirk remembers the enchanting, dark-eyed Isobel from when he was a lad, but now she is bound to another man by legal contract—an important detail she would prefer to forget. She wishes to choose her own husband and has her sights set on Dirk. But he would never steal another man's bride… would he? The tantalizing lady fires up his passions, testing his willpower and honor at every turn, even as some of his own treacherous clansmen plot his downfall.
My Brave Highlander is available in ebook from various booksellers such as Amazon and in paperback.

16 Responses
  1. very interesting. I understand that in the regency period , people were still living and staying at the castle.


  2. Vanessa Holland Says:

    Fantastic pictures, Vonda. It looks like an amazing place.


  3. Eliza Knight Says:

    Gorgeous pics! And awesome post! Thanks for sharing part of your adventure with us :)


  4. Regencyresearcher, thanks! Yes, in the 1800s Stirling was used mostly as military accommodation and barracks instead of a royal residence. Parts of it had fallen into disrepair previously and was remodeled and adapted for the military. The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were based at the castle.


  5. Thanks, Vanessa!! It was wonderful!


  6. Thanks, Eliza! I'm glad you liked it!


  7. Angelyn Says:

    lovely pictures--I've heard they redid the great hall at Stirling to appear more like it was in MQS's day.



  8. Thanks, Angelyn! Yes, the great hall has been redone. I have photos of it to share later. I took over 360 photos at Stirling, inside and out, LOL so I'll have to do a series of posts to share everything I saw and learned. The great hall was originally completed in 1503 and was restored in 1999.


  9. Roxy, thank you for checking it out!


  10. Gerri Bowen Says:

    Wonderful photos, Vonda! Thank you for sharing.


  11. Thank you, Gerri, for looking at them! I'm glad you enjoyed them.


  12. I bet you'd be surprised if I said I loved Stirling Castle. :) Of course I did. We spent more time there than any other place and it was great. I found a place where the kind tossed one of my ancestors into the garden after he's stabbed him to death - I think it was 24 times. A bit of an overkill, don't you think? We really tried to visit the Wallace Monument but for some reason couldn't find our way from Stirling to Wallace. Ended up on a roadway to Edinburgh instead and finally gave up. Just one more reason to go back to the Motherland.

    As always you made me homesick, Vonda. Beautiful photos. Thank you!


  13. Yes, I'm shocked that you love Stirling Castle, Paisley! LOL What an amazing story about your ancestor! Too bad you couldn't get to the Wallace Monument. We didn't try it but I can see how I'd have to use the GPS to find it even though I could see it across the valley. It would be great to visit it in the future. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos! Thanks!


  14. Vonda,

    Thanks for sharing. It's wonderful.


  15. Thanks for checking it out, Carole!!


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