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Stirling is certainly in the centre of Scotland geographically, and is most definitely central to its history and responsible in a big way for how modern Scotland has developed. In the past it has been the capital of Scotland, and it has played a pivotal role in the Wars of Scottish Independence, including the Battle of Stirling Bridge and the Battle of Bannockburn. It has strong associations with the likes of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.

These pictures are from two trips to Stirling during 2011, which I'm ashamed to say was the first time I'd ever visited the city properly, despite having passed through on the train for years between Glasgow and Aberdeen. Modern Stirling doesn't carry quite the level of importance that it did in days of yore, but it's still a university city and has a lot to offer the visitor.

Mighty Stirling Castle

Mighty Stirling Castle dominates the city, and provides a formidable barrier especially when viewed from the west as it is here. The castle's location atop a rocky crag not unlike Edinburgh's, was not only an excellent defensive location but also guarded the furthest downstream crossing of the River Forth, a key barrier against the English to the south.

Inside Stirling Castle, looking towards the Royal Palace and its exquisitely carved stonework.

Inside Stirling Castle

Stirling Bridge

Stirling Bridge spans the River Forth and was the scene of the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, a victory to the Scots under William Wallace against the English army during the First War of Scottish Independence. These days the bridge is open to pedestrians only.

Robert the Bruce stands in effigy on the castle esplanade. King of the Scots from 1306 to 1329, he led Scotland to a decisive victory against the far larger English army in the 1314 Battle of Bannockburn, fought just south of Stirling itself.

Robert The Bruce

Wallace Monument

The Wallace Monument towers over Stirling across the Forth from the castle, on top of Abbey Craig. A climb to the top of this Victorian memorial to William Wallace will reward you with panoramic views all across the land. For a few years there was a statue of William Wallace at the visitor centre, controversial not least for its resemblance more to Mel Gibson than Wallace's usual depiction.

Argyll's Lodging faces the castle at the top of Mar Place, and is one of the best examples of a 17th century town house in Scotland.

Argyll's Lodging in Stirling

Rock of Ages

I spotted this in the graveyard at the top of the town next to the castle, presumably "Rock of Ages" refers to the hymn. But could they in fact be paying homage to Def Leppard?

This old gate house in the old town stands next to a small eatery and lodging known as The Portcullis. Perhaps it takes its name from this gate.

Old Gate House by the Portcullis

Old Town Jail in Stirling

Stirling's Old Town Jail, not the place you wanted to end up! Nowadays fortunately it's run as a tourist attraction, so you can still recount the horrors of Victorian incarceration first hand should you wish.

Looking down Mar Place to St John Street at the top of the old town, facing away from the castle.

Streets of Stirling

Garden square in Stirling

Looking across a small garden to Spittal Street from Baker Street on the walk back down from the castle, with spring blossoms in bloom.

William Wallace himself stands atop a doorway on King Street. Lord of all he surveys. There's also a statue of him outside His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen.

William Wallace

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2011-2013