Sunday, 13 September 2009


There has been a Castle on the Hill overlooking Stirling since at least 1110 when King Alexander l dedicated a chapel there. The hill itself, called Castle Hill, is in fact a volcanic crag about 350 million years old, shaped and sculpted into it's present shape by glaciation.
In this picture, seen from the Wallace Monument, the most obvious building in the castle complex is the lime-washed Great Hall, also known as Parliament Hall built by James IV in about 1500.
Looking behind us when taking the picture of the Castle we could see this imposing monument.
Standing on another volcanic outcrop known as Abbey Crag, it commemorates the Scottish national hero William Wallace. The 220ft sandstone tower was completed in 1869 at a cost of about £18,000.
William Wallace was born in 1272 and was a giant of a man at least 6'6" tall. He must have been a formidable and strong man as his broad sword, which can still be seen in the tower is, itself 5'6" long including the handle and weighs some 6lb. Not a thing anyone would want wielded at them!
Wallace was captured by the English in August 1305 after being betrayed and handed over to forces loyal to King Edward 1st by John de Monteith. He was sent to London and tried for treason leading to his famous words "I could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject." Found guilty, Wallace was taken from the hall, stripped naked and dragged through the city at the heels of a horse to the Elms at Smithfield. He then went through all the horrors of being hanged, drawn and quartered which involved being hanged by the neck but cut down before he was dead. He was then castrated, disemboweled and had his entrails burned before him. As if this was not enough, he was then beheaded and his torso was cut into four pieces.
Wallace's head was preserved in tar and displayed on a pike from London Bridge. The four quarters of his body were sent to Newcastle upon Tyne, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Stirling, and Aberdeen to be displayed as a warning to others who might have traitorous ideas. You have to hand it to the medieval justice system, they certainly knew how to deal with criminals!
Wallace's coat of arms hangs above the entrance to the tower.
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