A Stirling Day

It was a sterling day in Stirling. Yes, I was eagerly waiting to use that pun. This morning, we hopped aboard another ScotRail train and crossed castle number two of the trip off our list. Stirling Castle is on most top 10 Scotland lists, and with the history—and amazing views—surrounding it, that’s no wonder.

Stirling may perhaps be most well known to those of you who watched the movie Braveheart (or who know your Scottish history). It was below the castle where William Wallace won the battle of Stirling Bridge (though the bridge didn’t figure in the fictional version of the movie). Not too long after, future king Robert the Bruce won the Battle of Bannockburn, also nearby, and regained Scottish independence from England.

Robert the Bruce, with Stirling Castle in the background

Stirling Bridge in the foreground, with the Wallace Monument in the background

The castle sits atop a giant rocky ridge, the highest point for miles around. This gives it an obvious strategic advantage (and amazing views), making it all but impregnable—but Molly still tried storming the castle walls.

Compared to Edinburgh Castle, there was more to explore and fewer crowds: a win-win. Some of the highlights included an interactive children’s area, the private quarters of the king and queen and, perhaps most fun, a walkway around most of the perimeter wall (which probably would have been off-limits in the ultra-safe, litigious United States).

The ceiling of the king’s reception room

The royal unicorn makes another appearance in the king’s reception room

Lastly, the surrounding old town of Stirling was also charming and historic—especially the old Holy Rood church next to the castle, where James VI (the future James I of England) was crowned after his mother Mary Queen of Scots was forced to abdicate the throne. And of course, no visit to an old church is complete without a stroll through its adjoining cemetery!

Tomorrow, we bid farewell to the city and head to the Highlands!

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