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Historic Stirling and Stùc a' Chroin
|Area||16.7 km2 (6.4 sq mi) |
|• Density||2,164/km2 (5,600/sq mi)|
|OS grid reference|
|• Edinburgh||43 mi (69 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Stirling (//; Scots: Stirlin; Scottish Gaelic: Sruighlea [ˈs̪t̪ɾuʝlə]) is a city in central Scotland, 26 miles (42 km) north-east of Glasgow and 37 miles (60 km) north-west of the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. The market town, surrounded by rich farmland, grew up connecting the royal citadel, the medieval old town with its merchants and tradesmen, the bridge and the port. Located on the River Forth, Stirling is the administrative centre for the Stirling council area, and is traditionally the county town of Stirlingshire. Proverbially it is the strategically important "Gateway to the Highlands".
It has been said that "Stirling, like a huge brooch clasps Highlands and Lowlands together". Similarly "he who holds Stirling, holds Scotland" is often quoted. Stirling's key position as the lowest bridging point of the River Forth before it broadens towards the Firth of Forth, made it a focal point for travel north or south.
When Stirling was temporarily under Anglo-Saxon sway, according to a 9th-century legend, it was attacked by Danish invaders. The sound of a wolf roused a sentry, however, who alerted his garrison, which forced a Viking retreat. This led to the wolf being adopted as a symbol of the town as is shown on the 1511 Stirling Jug. The area is today known as Wolfcraig.
Once the capital of Scotland, Stirling is visually dominated by Stirling Castle. Stirling also has a medieval parish church, the Church of the Holy Rude, where, on 29 July 1567, the infant James VI was anointed King of Scots by the Bishop of Orkney with the service concluding after a sermon by John Knox. The poet King was educated by George Buchanan and grew up in Stirling. He was later also crowned King of England and Ireland on 25 July 1603, bringing closer the countries of the United Kingdom.
Modern Stirling is a centre for local government, higher education, tourism, retail, and industry. The mid-2012 census estimate for the population of the city is 36,440; the wider Stirling council area has a population of about 93,750.
One of the principal royal strongholds of the Kingdom of Scotland, Stirling was created a royal burgh by King David I in 1130. In 2002, as part of Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee, Stirling was granted city status.
The origin of the name Stirling is uncertain, but folk etymology suggests that it originates in either a Scots or Gaelic term meaning the place of battle, struggle or strife. Other sources suggest that it originates in a Brythonic name meaning "dwelling place of Melyn", with the first element being connected to Middle Welsh ystre-, "a dwelling". The name may have originally been a hydronym, and connected to Brittonic *lïnn, "lake, pool" (Welsh llyn). It is supposed that Stirling is the fortress of Iuddeu or Urbs Giudi where Oswiu of Northumbria was besieged by Penda of Mercia in 655, as recorded in Bede and contemporary annals.
A stone cist, found in Coneypark Nursery in 1879, is Stirling's oldest catalogued artefact. Bones from the cist were radiocarbon dated and found to be over four millennia old, originating within the date range 2152 to 2021 BC. Nicknamed Torbrex Tam, the man, whose bones were discovered by workmen, died while still in his twenties. Other Bronze Age finds near the city come from the area around Cambusbarron. It had been thought that the Randolphfield standing stones were more than 3000 years old but recent radiocarbon dating suggests they may date from the time of Bruce. The earliest known structures on Gillies Hill were built by Iron Age people over 2000 years ago. Two structures are known: what is currently called Wallstale Dun on the southern end of Touchadam Craig, and Gillies Hill fort on the northwest end of the craig. South of the city, the King's Park prehistoric carvings can still be found. Whether the ancient Maeatae or Manaw Gododdin tribes settled in Stirling is not clear.
The castle rock has been strategically significant since at least the Roman occupation of Britain, due to its naturally defensible crag and tail hill: the bedrock on which Stirling Castle was built. However, if the Romans were ever on the current castle site then they didn't leave more than a coin or two. Nevertheless, Stirling enjoys a unique position on the border between the Lowlands and Highlands.
Its other notable geographic feature is its proximity to the lowest site of subjugation of the River Forth. Control of the bridge brought military advantage in times of unrest and; excise duty, or pontage dues in peacetime. Unsurprisingly excise men were installed in a covered booth in the centre of the bridge to collect tax from any entering the royal burgh with goods. Stirling remained the river's lowest reliable crossing point (that is, without a weather-dependent ferry or seasonal ford) until the construction of the Alloa Swing Bridge between Throsk and Alloa in 1885.
The city has two Latin mottoes, which appeared on the earliest burgh seal of which an impression of 1296 is on record. The first alludes to the story as recorded by Boece who relates that in 855 Scotland was invaded by two Northumbrian princes, Osbrecht and Ella. They united their forces with the Cumbrian Britons in order to defeat the Scots. Having secured Stirling castle, they built the first stone bridge over the Forth
On the top they reportedly raised a crucifix with the inscription: "Anglos, a Scotis separat, crux ista remotis; Arma hic stant Bruti; stant Scoti hac sub cruce tuti." Bellenden translated this loosely as "I am free marche, as passengers may ken, To Scottis, to Britonis, and to Inglismen." It may be the stone cross was a tripoint for the three kingdom's borders or marches; the cross functioning both as a dividing territorial marker, and as a uniting witness stone like in the Bible story in Joshua 22. "Angles and Scots here demarked, By this cross kept apart. Brits and Scots armed stand near, By this cross stand safe here." This would make the cross on the centre of the first stone bridge the Heart of Scotland.
The Stirling seal only has the second part and it's slightly different.
Apparently the Latin is not first rate having four syllables in "cruce tuti" but the meaning seems to be that the Lowland Strathclyde Britons on the southern shore and the Highland Pictish Scots on the northern shore stand protected from each other by their common Christianity.
The second motto is:
It has been claimed that the "Bridge" seal was regarded as the Burgh seal proper, the "Castle" seal being simply a reverse, used when the seal was affixed by a lace to a charter. This agrees with a description in an official publication (which spells Bruti with only one letter t). Clearer images are available with different lettering. Sibbald conflated the two mottos into a single rhyme; he gave no indication that he was aware of Boece's work.
Stirling was first declared a royal burgh by King David in the 12th century, with later charters reaffirmed by subsequent monarchs. A ferry, and later bridge, on the River Forth at Stirling brought wealth and strategic influence, as did its tidal port at Riverside. Major battles during the Wars of Scottish Independence took place at the Stirling Bridge in 1297 and at the nearby village of Bannockburn in 1314 involving William Wallace and Robert the Bruce respectively. After the battle of Stirling Bridge, Wallace wrote to the Hanseatic leaders of Lübeck and Hamburg to encourage trade between Scottish ports (like Stirling) and these German cities. There were also several Sieges of Stirling Castle in the conflict, notably in 1304.
Another important historical site in the area is the ruins of Cambuskenneth Abbey, the resting place of King James III of Scotland and his queen, Margaret of Denmark. The king died at the Battle of Sauchieburn by forces nominally led by his son and successor James IV. During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, the Battle of Stirling also took place in the centre of Stirling on 12 September 1648. The fortifications continued to play a strategic military role during the 18th-century Jacobite risings. In 1715, the Earl of Mar failed to take control of the castle. In January 1746, the army of Bonnie Prince Charlie seized control of the town but failed to take the Castle. On their consequent retreat northwards, they blew up the church of St. Ninians where they had been storing munitions; only the tower survived and can be seen to this day. The castle and the church are shown on Blaeu's map of 1654 which was derived from Pont's earlier map.
Standing near the castle, the Church of the Holy Rude is one of the town's most historically important buildings. Founded in 1129 it is the second oldest building in the city after Stirling castle. It was rebuilt in the 15th-century after Stirling suffered a catastrophic fire in 1405, and is reputed to be the only surviving church in the United Kingdom apart from Westminster Abbey to have held a coronation. On 29 July 1567 the infant son of Mary, Queen of Scots, was anointed James VI of Scotland in the church. James' bride, Anne of Denmark was crowned in the church at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. The Holy Rude congregation still meet and some 19th century parish records survive. Musket shot marks that may come from Cromwell's troops during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms are clearly visible on the tower and apse of the church.
Economically, the city's port supported foreign trade, historically doing significant trade in the Low Countries, particularly with Bruges in Belgium and Veere in the Netherlands. In the 16th century there were so many Scots in Danzig in Prussia that they had their own church congregation and trade is mentioned with that city in Stirling Council's minutes of 1560. Around John Cowane's time there is an account which states there were about 30,000 Scots families living in Poland although that was possibly an exaggeration. Trade with the Baltic also took place such as a timber trade with Norway.
After the Jacobite threat had faded but before the railways were established, the Highland cattle drovers would use the Auld Brig on their way to market at Falkirk or Stenhousemuir. Three times a year, tens of thousands of cattle, sheep and ponies were moved together to the trysts in the south with some drovers going as far as Carlisle or even London's Smithfield. There is a record of a four mile long tailback (of livestock) developing from St. Ninians to Bridge of Allan after a St. Ninians tollman had a dispute.
In the early 19th century an "exceedingly low" cost steamboat service used to run between Stirling and Newhaven or Granton. The coming of the railways in 1848 started the decline of the river traffic, not least because the Alloa Swing Bridge downstream restricted access for shipping. The railways did provide opportunity too with one Riverside company selling their reaping machines as far afield as Syria and Australia. Similarly, in 1861, a company making baby carriages was set up. These prams were exported to Canada, South America, India and South Africa.
After the blockades of the World Wars there was some increase in the use of the port including a tea trade with India. However, with normal shipping lanes open, the growth of the railways including The Forth Rail Bridge, left the harbour uneconomical and by the mid 20th century the port had ceased to operate.
In terms of local government, the city of Stirling is a part of the wider Stirling Council area, which governs on matters of local administration as set out by the Local Government etc (Scotland) Act 1994. The current members of the Council were voted in 2017 for a term of office of 5 years. The May 2017 local government election resulted in the Scottish Conservative party and Scottish National Party each winning nine councillors, while the Labour Party won four seats and the Scottish Green Party won one. However, subsequently one Conservative councillor left the party to sit as an Independent. The Provost of Stirling is Cllr Christine Simpson.
For the purposes of the Scottish Parliament, the city of Stirling forms part of the Stirling constituency of the Scottish Parliament constituency. The Stirling Scottish Parliament (or Holyrood) constituency created in 1999 is one of nine within the Mid Scotland and Fife electoral region. Each constituency elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) by the first past the post system of election, and the region elects seven additional members to produce a form of proportional representation. The constituency is represented by Bruce Crawford, MSP of the Scottish National Party.
In terms of national government, the city of Stirling forms part of county constituency of Stirling constituency of the House of Commons, electing one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the parliament of the United Kingdom by first past the post system. Stephen Kerr of the Scottish Conservative Party is the MP for Stirling constituency of the House of Commons since defeating Steven Paterson by 148 votes at the General Election in June 2017.
Historical voting records can be found in online databases.
|Climate data for Stirling (25 m asl, averages 1981–2010, extremes 2009–present)|
|Record high °C (°F)||13.6
|Average high °C (°F)||7.1
|Average low °C (°F)||1.0
|Record low °C (°F)||−11.1
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||128.8
|Average rainy days (≥ 1 mm)||16.7||12.1||13.6||9.5||10.2||8.9||10.7||11.4||11.9||14.2||14.2||13.9||147.4|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||40.6||66.5||98.5||132.7||175.3||166.4||157.9||153.4||119.1||82.9||54.9||32.2||1,280.4|
|Source #1: MetOffice|
|Source #2: |
Stirling is renowned as the Gateway to the Highlands and is generally regarded as occupying a strategic position at the point where the flatter, largely undulating Scottish Lowlands meet the rugged slopes of the Highlands along the Highland Boundary Fault. The starkness of this contrast is evidenced by the many hills and mountains of the lower Highlands such as Ben Vorlich and Ben Ledi which can be seen to the northwest of the city. On the other hand, the Carse of Stirling, stretching to the west and east of the city, is one of the flattest and most agriculturally productive expanses of land in the whole of Scotland.
The land surrounding Stirling has been most affected by glacial erosion and deposition. The city itself has grown up around its castle which stands atop an ancient quartz-dolerite sill, known as the Stirling Sill, a major defensive position which was at the lowest crossing point on the River Forth. Stirling stands on the Forth at the point where the river widens and becomes tidal. To the east of the city the Ochil Hills dominate the skyline with the highest peak in the range being Ben Cleuch, although Dumyat is more noticeable from Stirling. The Ochils meet the flat carse (floodplain) of the River Forth to the east of the distinctive geographical feature of Abbey Craig, a crag and tail hill upon which stands the 220 ft (67 m) high National Wallace Monument.
Top of the Town consists of Broad Street, Castle Wynd, Ballengeich Pass, Lower Castle Hill Road, Darnley Street, Baker Street ( formerly Baxters St), St John Street and St Mary's Wynd. These streets all lead up to Stirling Castle and are the favourite haunt of tourists who stop off at the Old Town Jail, Mar's Wark, Argyll's Lodging and the castle. Ballengeich Pass leads to the graveyard at Ballengeich and the Castle Wynd winds past the old graveyard. The Top of the Town from Broad Street upwards is renowned for its cobblestoned roads, and cars can be heard rattling over the cobblestones on the way down. Craft shops and tourist-focused shops are evident on the way up and once at the top, panoramic views are available across Stirling and beyond.
The settlement of Stirling had a population of 48,440 in 2012. According to the 2001 census, 52.7% of the population was female compared to 47.2% male. Stirling had both a smaller proportion of under 16s, at 16.7% compared to the Scottish average of 19.2%, and a smaller proportion of those of pensionable age: 17.8% – compared to the Scottish average of 18.6%. The highest proportion of the population, at 24.3%, was concentrated in the 16–29 age group. Stirling also had a higher proportion of non-Scottish born residents at 16.5%, compared to the Scottish average of 12.8%. The population was also slightly younger than the Scottish average of 37 – the median age for males was 34; and the median age for females was 36, to the national average of 39. The population peaks and troughs significantly when the students come and go from the city.
Walking the Marches is a custom probably started in the 12th century. The only way the town's boundaries could be protected was to walk round inspecting them annually. The walk was followed by a dinner. This was traditionally done by the Birlaw men made up from members of the Seven Trades, the Guildry and Council. In 2014 the tradition was revived after an official abeyance of several years.
There are about sixteen libraries and two mobile libraries in Stirling. The Smith Art Gallery and Museum is now free to tourists and residents alike. Shearer's 1895 Penny Guide to Stirling and Neighbourhood used to list it under "How to spend a few hours on a wet day". The Macrobert Arts Centre has a variety of exhibitions and performances. There are many events at the Tolbooth and The Albert Halls. Stirling has hosted the National Mòd several times: in 1909, 1961, 1971,1987 and 2008.
There are currently about 20 churches in the city. These include:
At the centre of a large rural agricultural hinterland that encompasses some of the flattest and most productive land in Scotland, Stirling principally functioned as a market town, symbolised by its Mercat cross, with farmers coming to sell their products and wares in the large agricultural market that was held in the town. Today, agriculture still plays a part in the economic life of Stirling, given its focus at the heart of a large rural area, but to a much lesser extent than previously.
With Stirling's development as a market town and its location as the focus of transport and communications in the region, it has developed a substantial retail sector serving a wide range of surrounding communities as well as the city itself. Primarily centred on the city centre, there are a large number of chain stores, as well as the Thistles shopping centre. However this has been augmented by out-of-town developments such as the Springkerse Retail Park on the city bypass to the east of Stirling, and the development of a large Sainsbury's in the Raploch.
A major new regeneration project on the site of the former port area and the 40-acre (160,000 m2) former Ministry of Defence site, adjacent to Stirling Railway Station, is currently underway. Known as Forthside, it has the aim of developing a new waterfront district linked to the railway station via a new pedestrian bridge. The development comprises retail, residential and commercial elements, including a conference centre, hotel and Vue multiplex cinema, that will ultimately expand the city centre area, linking it to the River Forth, which has been cut off from the city centre area since the construction of the A9 bypass under the railway station in the 1960s. For the first time in 100 years, local people will have access to the banks of the River Forth in the city centre with landscaped public areas, footpaths, cycleways and an improved public transport network.
In the service sector, financial services as well as tourism are the biggest employers. The financial services and insurance company Prudential have a large and well-established base at Craigforth on the outskirts of Stirling. In terms of tourism, the presence of such historical monuments as Stirling Castle, the National Wallace Monument and other nearby attractions like Blair Drummond Safari Park, the key role which Stirling has played in Scottish history, as well as the scenery of the area, has bolstered Stirling's position as an important tourist destination in Scotland.
The University of Stirling and Stirling Council are two of the biggest employers in the area. Knowledge related industries, research and development as well as life sciences have clustered around the university in the Stirling University Innovation Park, close to its main campus. Other public sector agencies that are major employers in the city include Police Scotland, Scottish Prison Service, NHS Forth Valley and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
Stirling is home to national construction companies Ogilvie Group, chaired by Duncan Ogilvie, who is listed in the Times Rich List as being worth £35 million.
The City of Stirling is home to a large number of commuters but has fewer commuting to work in other areas, than travel into the city. About half of Scotland's population live within an hour's travel time of Stirling.
Local bus services to districts within the city are almost completely provided by buses operated by First Scotland East. The surrounding towns, like Bridge of Allan, Alloa, Falkirk and Glasgow via Cumbernauld have services from the bus station.
There are also railway links from Stirling railway station, including inter-city rail services to Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh Waverley, Inverness, Glasgow Queen Street, and London King's Cross. Services to Alloa, Bridge of Allan, Falkirk and Dunblane also run. Stirling Council provides some approximate journey times. Working lines include the Highland Main Line, the Edinburgh–Dunblane line and the Croy Line. The station formerly provided direct railway services to Callander and Oban, and to Loch Lomond, over very scenic lines, and a fast service to Dunfermline.
Cities with motorways links close to Stirling include Glasgow, via the M80 motorway past Cumbernauld, and Edinburgh, via the M9 motorway past Falkirk. To the north, the M9 provides access to Dunblane with easy links to Perth and further beyond the Central Belt.
Stirling used to have steamboats which carried hundreds of passengers a day. There is currently no working port at Stirling but there are plans to develop the river and the harbour which might include links with towns on the Firth of Forth. Since the Forth is tidal at Stirling, development of pontoon style landing stages could potentially allow river taxis and tourist boats to operate during the summer.
Stirling is home to professional league teams in football, rugby and cricket.
The first Stirling Scottish Marathon was held on May 21, 2017. April 29, 2018 is the date of the planned 2018 event.
The National Curling Academy is located in Stirling Sports Village. It was opened in 2017 by Eve Muirhead. They use facilities linked to The Peak. It was hoped this would increase the chances of British medals at events like the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
The senior football team, Stirling Albion, play in the Scottish League Two at their home ground at Forthbank Stadium. In July 2010, the Stirling Albion Supporters' Trust successfully took over the running of the club buying out the long-serving chairman, Peter McKenzie, after 14 months of campaigning. This made Stirling Albion the first fully owned community club in the history of British football, after previous attempts made by Manchester United, Liverpool and Rangers.
The University Stirling Wanderers Hockey Club have also moved to a brand new (international standard) pitch at Forthbank for season 2008–09.
Next to this pitch there is also the ground of Stirling County Cricket Club, whose pavilion captured an architectural award in June 2009, three years after its opening.
Scotland international footballers Billy Bremner, John Colquhoun, Duncan Ferguson, female footballer Frankie Brown and brothers Gary and Steven Caldwell were born in Stirling. So were rugby internationals Kenny Logan, Allister Hogg and Alison McGrandles, jockey Willie Carson, and cricketer Dougie Brown.
The University of Stirling is a major centre of sports training and education in Scotland. It was designated as Scotland's University for Sporting Excellence by the Scottish Government in 2008. The headquarters of the Scottish Institute of Sport is a purpose-built facility on the campus which opened in 2002. Also at the university is the Scottish National Swimming Academy, where Rio 2016, Olympic silver medalists and students at the university, Duncan Scott and Robbie Renwick trained. Commonwealth gold medalist Ross Murdoch, who also competed at Rio 2106, is a student at the university. The Gannochy National Tennis centre, which is seen as a tennis centre of excellence, was where Andy Murray and his brother Jamie Murray honed their skills as juniors. Gordon Reid, wheel chair Olympic gold medalist in 2016, was a tennis scholar at the university. The university men's and women's golf teams are consistently ranked among the best in Europe.
The university has a dedicated sports studies department, which is within the Faculty of Health Science and Sport, and is ranked amongst the best in the United Kingdom for its provision of sports facilities, with the maximum 5-star award, shared by 16 other universities in the UK. The University of Stirling also currently hosts the Scottish men's lacrosse champions.
Stirling and its surrounding area has a number of 9- and 18-hole golf courses, the largest of which is the Stirling Golf Course, located in the Kings Park area of the city. The Peak, a new Sports Village, was opened in April 2009 to cater for a range of sporting activities.
In June 2014, Stirling will become the home of Scottish cricket after an agreement between Stirling County Cricket Club, Cricket Scotland and Stirling Council. It is hoped that the redevelopment of the ground will start at end 2014 with the intention being to upgrade it to international match standards. Scotland will play the majority of their home international games at the ground, starting with the World T20 qualifiers in the summer of 2015.
The development will see a new pavilion and indoor training facility built at New Williamfield, the home of Stirling County Cricket Club, with Cricket Scotland relocating its headquarters from the National Cricket Academy at Ravelston, Edinburgh.
The University of Stirling opened in 1967 on a greenfield site outside the town. Currently there are 11,100 students studying at the university, of which 7,995 are undergraduates and 3105 are postgraduates. There are 120 nationalities represented on the university campus, with 19% of students coming from overseas. It has grown into a major research centre, with a large Innovation Park located immediately adjacent to the main university campus. Innovation Park has grown since its initiation in 1993, and is now home to 40 companies engaging in various forms of research and development. In January 2008 it was announced that students from Singapore would be able to gain degrees in retail from the University of Stirling in a tie-up with the country's Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP).
There are four main high schools in Stirling itself – Stirling High School, with a school roll of 964 pupils, Wallace High School with 958 pupils, St Modan's High School with 912 pupils, and Bannockburn High School in Broomridge with 752 pupils. All the city's secondary school premises have been redeveloped as a result of a Public-private partnership scheme. Stirling also has a Gaelic-medium unit situated in the city's Riverside Primary School which teaches pupils from across Stirling and Clackmannanshire through the medium of Scottish Gaelic.
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