Stirling Castle & The National Wallace Monument
Stirling Castle is built on the Stirling Sill, a rock formation around 350
million years old. It is likely that this was once the site of a Pictish fort.
The first record of Stirling Castle dates from around 1110, when King
Alexander I dedicated a chapel here. During the reign of his successor
David I, Stirling became a royal burgh, and the castle an important
administration centre. Stirling remained a centre of royal
administration until the death of Alexander III in 1286. In 1296, Edward
invaded Scotland, beginning the Wars of Scottish Independence,
which would last for the next 60 years. The English found Stirling Castle
abandoned and empty, and set about occupying this key site. They
were dislodged the following year, after the victory of William Wallace
at the Battle of Stirling Bridge.
Under the early Stewart kings, Robert II (reigned 1371–1390) and
Robert III (reigned 1390–1406), the earliest surviving parts of the castle
were built. Robert Stewart, Earl of Menteith, brother of Robert III and
Regent of Scotland, undertook works on the north and south gates. The
present north gate is built on these foundations of the 1380s, the earliest
surviving masonry in the castle. Almost all the present buildings in the
castle were constructed between 1490 and 1600, when Stirling was
developed as a principal royal centre by the Stewart kings James IV,
James V and James VI. The architecture of these new buildings shows
an eclectic mix of English, French and German influences, reflecting the
international ambitions of the Stewart dynasty. Towards the end of the
Stewart era, Stirling’s role as a royal residence declined, and it became
principally a military centre. It was used as a prison for persons of rank
during the 17th century During this time, the castle’s military role became
increasingly important, a powder magazine being built in the castle
gardens, and a formal garrison installed from 1685. From 1800 until
1964 the Castle was owned by the War Office and run as a barracks
and recruiting depot for the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Many
alterations were made to the Great Hall, which became an
accommodation block; the Chapel Royal, which became a lecture theatre
and dining hall; the King’s Old Building, which became an infirmary; and
the Royal Palace, which became the Officer’s Mess. A number of new
buildings were also constructed, including the prison and powder
magazine, at the Nether Bailey, in 1810.
Today, efforts to restore the buildings to their original state are still ongoing.
The Great Hall has been restored. Stirling Castle remains the headquarters
of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
The National Wallace Monument (generally known as the Wallace Monument) is a tower standing on the summit of Abbey Craig, a hilltop near Stirling in Scotland. It commemorates Sir William Wallace
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