What To Do in Stirling
Planning on visiting the Castle? Why not take in some of the other attractions which the city has to offer.
Situated close to the castle, this grand residence takes its name from Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll, who bought and extended the house in the mid 16th-century. The Lodging remained in the Campbell family until 1764 before finding new life as a military hospital between 1800 and 1964. It was a then converted to a youth hostel until 1996 when Historic Scotland took possession of the building. Today it is one of the most complete 17th century aristocratic townhouses in Scotland and has been recreated to provide an insight into the luxurious world of Archibald and Anna Campbell. There are daily tours of the Lodgings which explain the history of the house and the Campbell family. Tours leave from Stirling Castle and cost £2.
Mar’s Wark was the town house of John Erskine, Earl of Mar and Keeper of Stirling Castle. The house is situated on the approach to the castle at the head of the old town in one of the most prominent sites in the burgh. Today the remains of the house, which are wonderfully embellished with figurative carvings, allow a glimpse into a lost world and the ideas of the stonemasons who created them. In 1733 Stirling Town Council approached the Erskine family with a view to turning Mar’s Wark into a workhouse but during the Rising of 1745, the house was occupied by the Jacobite troops leading to considerable damage to the building. Mar’s Wark was eventually left to decline into ruin and the Town Council tried to have the building demolished on grounds of vagrancy. Fortunately the plan was never enacted and today visitors to Stirling can still see the remains of this fabulous building.
Church of the Holy Rude
The Church of the Holy Rude (meaning Holy Cross) is the second oldest building in Stirling after the castle, founded in 1129 during the reign of David I as the parish church of Stirling. The original church was destroyed, along with much of Stirling, by a fire in March 1405. Shortly afterwards a grant was made by the Lord Chamberlain of Scotland to have a new church built. The Nave, South Aisle with rounded Scots pillars, Gothic arches and original oak-timbered roof and the Tower were completed about 1414. Tradition says that King James IV may have helped masons build the later eastern end during the early 16th century. Because of its close links with the castle, the church always had the support and patronage of the Stewart monarchs and many important events in Scotland’s history took place here including the coronations of James IV and James VI. It is reputed to be the only church in the United Kingdom, other than Westminster Abbey, to have held a coronation and still be a living church today.
This beautiful and historical building is open to the public free of charge during April-October with foreign language interpretation available.
Old Town Jail
Located in the heart of the city’s historic old town, the city’s famous prison offers an authentic experience that demonstrates how the Victorians made sure that crime didn’t pay! Visitors will meet many characters along the way including the prison warden, the Victorian reformer, Stirling’s notorious hangman, and the convict determined to escape. A memorable experience not for the faint-hearted! The Old Town Jail is opened April-October each year. For information visit www.oldtownjail.com
Located in the heart of the old town, the Tolbooth is Stirling's venue for live music and the arts. Re-opened in 2002, after a sensational restoration and redesign by award winning architect Richard Murphy, it has quickly established a reputation as one of the best live music venues in the country. The Tolbooth has always been a feature of Stirling's cultural life and has been a court, jail and even hosted a parliament in the reign of James VI. Today it is the base for Stirling Council's Arts and Events Team and the home to some of the best musicians and performers working in Scotland. For more information visit www.stirling.gov.uk/tolbooth
The National Wallace Monument
For over 140 years, this world-famous landmark has stood tall, overlooking the scene of Scotland’s victory at The Battle of Stirling Bridge. Today it is synonymous with Scottish pride and nationhood, and is a place where history is something you can touch and feel, as you follow the story of Sir William Wallace, patriot, martyr, and Guardian of Scotland. There are 246 steps to negotiate to the top of the tower and it’s certainly interesting when you bump into visitors going in the opposite direction but the views are spectacular and worth the effort. You can also catch your breath with stops at each level to view the exhibitions which tell the story of William Wallace as well as other Scottish Legends in the Hall of Heroes. There are great facilities including a café and gift shop and a free courtesy bus that will take you to the foot of the monument – which means you can reserve your energy for the climb.
Blair Drummond Safari Park
Located a few short miles outside Stirling, Blair Drummond Safari Park is a great value family day out. The park features a wildlife reserve with big game animals including lions, elephants, rhinos, giraffes and zebra. There’s also a boat trip to Chimp Island, Lemur Land, a Birds of Prey exhibition and sea lion show. In addition there are fun fair rides, an adventure playground, and café, as well as barbecue and picnic areas. It truly is a great day out and worth a visit. Blair Drummond Safari Park is open daily from March-October each year. For more information visit www.blairdrummond.com