1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Stirling

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STIRLING, a royal, municipal and police burgh, river port and county town of Stirlingshire, Scotland. Pop. (1901), 18,697. It is finely situated on the right bank of the Forth, 39! m. N.W. of Edinburgh and 295 m. N.E. of Glasgow, being served by the North British and the Caledonian railways. The old town occupies the slopes of a basaltic hill (420 ft. above the sea) terminating on the north and west in a sheer precipice. The modern quarters have been laid out on the level ground at the base, especially towards the south. Originally the town was protected on its vulnerable sides by a wall, of which remains still exist at the south end of the Black Walk. Formerly there were two main entrances—the South Port, 100 yds. to the west of the present line of Port Street, and the "auld brig" over the Forth to the north, a quaint high-pitched structure of four arches, now closed to traffic. It dates from the end of the 14th century and was once literally "the key to the Highlands." It still retains the gateway towers at both ends. Just below it is the new bridge erected in 1829 from designs by Robert Stevenson, and below this again the railway viaduct. According to local tradition, a bridge stood at Kildean, 1 m. up the river, not far from the field of the battle of Stirling Bridge (1297). The castle crowning the eminence is of unknown age, but from the time that Alexander I. died within its walls in 1124 till the union of the crowns in 1603 it was intimately associated with the fortunes of the Scottish monarchs. It is one of the fortresses appointed by the Act of Union to be kept in a state of repair, and is approached from the esplanade, on which stands the colossal statue of Robert Bruce, erected in 1877. The main gateway, built by James III., gives access to the lower and then to the upper square, on the south side of which stands the palace, begun by James V. (1540) and completed by Mary of Guise. The east side of the quadrangle is occupied by the parliament house, a Gothic building of the time of James III., now used as a barrack-room and stores. On the north side of the square is the chapel royal, founded by Alexander I., rebuilt in the 15th century and again in 1594 by James VI. (who was christened in it), and afterwards converted into an armoury and finally a store-room. Beyond the upper square is the small castle garden, partly destroyed by fire in 1856 but restored, in which William, 8th earl of Douglas, was murdered by James II. (1452). Just below the castle on the north-east is the path of Ballangeich, which is said to have given private access to the fortress, and from which James V. took his title of "Guidman of Ballangeich" when he roved incognito. Below it is Gowan Hill, and beyond this the Mote or Heading Hill, on which Murdoch Stuart, 2nd duke of Albany, his two sons, and his, father-in-law the earl of Lennox, were beheaded in 1425. In the plain c'o the south-west were the King's Gardens, now under grass, with an octagonal turf-covered mound called the King's Knot in the centre. Farther south lies the King's Park, chiefly devoted to golf, cricket, football and curling, and containing also a race-course. On a hill of lower elevation than the castle and separated from the esplanade by a depression styled the Valley—the tilting-ground of former times—a cemetery has been laid out. Among its chief features are the Virgin Martyrs' Memorial, representing in white marble a guardian angel and the figures of Margaret M'Lauchlan and Margaret Wilson, who were drowned by the rising tide in Wigtown Bay for their fidelity to the Covenant (1685); the large pyramid to the memory of the Covenanters, and the Ladies' Rock, from which ladies viewed the jousts in the Valley. Adjoining the cemetery on the south is Greyfriars, the parish church, also called, since the Reformation (1656), when it was divided into two places of worship, the East and West churches. David I. is believed to have founded (about 1130) an earlier church on their site dedicated to the Holy Rood, or Cross, which was burned in 1406. The church was rebuilt soon afterwards and possibly some portions of the preceding structure were incorporated in the nave. The choir (the East church) was added in 1494 by James IV., and the apse a few years later by James Beaton, archbishop of St Andrews, or his nephew, Cardinal David Beaton. At the west stands the stately battlemented square tower, 90 ft. high. The nave (the West church), divided from the aisles by a double row of massive round pillars, is a transition between Romanesque and Gothic, with pointed windows. The crow-stepped Gothic gable of the south transept affords the main entrance to both churches. The choir is in the Decorated and Perpendicular styles and is higher than the nave. The parish church is 200 ft. long, 55 ft. broad and 50 ft. high. Within its walls Mary Queen of Scots was crowned in 1543, when nine months old, and in the same year the earl of Arran, regent of Scotland, abjured Protestantism; in 1544 an assembly of nobles appointed Mary of Guise queen-regent; on the 29th of July 1567 James VI. was crowned, John Knox preaching the sermon, and in August 1571 and June 1578 the general assembly of the Church of Scotland met. James Guthrie (1612–1661), the martyr, and Ebenezer Erskine (1680–1794), founder of the Scottish Secession Church, were two of the most distinguished ministers. To the south-west of the church is Cowane's Hospital, founded in 1639 by John Cowane, dean of gild, for twelve poor members of the gildry; but the deposition of the charity has been modified and the hall serves the purpose of a gildhall. Adjoining it is the military prison. Near the principal entrance to the esplanade stands Argyll's Lodging, erected about 1630 by the 1st earl of Stirling. On his death in 1640 it passed to the 1st marquess of Argyll and is now a military hospital. Broad Street contains the ruins of Mar's Work, the palace built by John Erskine, 1st (or 6th) earl of Mar, about 157°, according to tradition, out of the stones of Cambuskenneth Abbey; the old town house, erected in 1701 instead of that in which John Hamilton, the last Roman Catholic archbishop of St Andrews, was hanged for alleged complicity in the murders of Darnley and the regent Moray; the town cross, restored in 1891, and the house which was, as a mural tablet says, the " nursery of James VI. and his son Prince Henry." The important buildings include: the high school; the trades hall, founded by Robert Spittal, James IV. 's tailor, in the Back Walk; the burgh buildings, with a statue of Sir William Wallace over the porch; the National Bank, occupying the site of the Dominican monastery, founded in 1223 by Alexander II. and demolished at the Reformation; the Smith Institute, founded in 1873 by Thomas Stewart Smith, an artist, containing a picture-gallery, museum and reading- room; the public halls; the Royal Infirmary and various charitable institutions. Woollen manufactures (carpets, tartans, shawls) are the staple industry, and tanning, iron-founding, carriage-building and agricultural implement-making are also carried on, in addition to furniture factories, cooperage and rubber works. The harbour being accessible only at high water, and then merely to vessels of small tonnage, the shipping trade is inconsiderable.

Stirling is under the jurisdiction of a council with provost and bailies, and, along with Culross, Dunfermline, Inverkeithing and Queensferry (the Stirling burghs) returns a member to Parliament. The Abbey Craig, an outlying spur of the Ochils, 11/2 m. north-east of Stirling, is a thickly-wooded bill (362 ft. high), on the top of which stands the Wallace monument (1869), a baronial tower, 220 ft. high, surmounted with an open-work crown. The Valhalla, or Hall of Heroes, contains busts of eminent Scotsmen. Cambuskenneth Abbey is situated on the left bank of the Forth, about 1 m. east-north-east of Stirling by ferry across the river. The name is derived from the Gaelic and means "the Crook of Kenneth," or Cairenachus. a friend of St Columba and patron of Kilkenny in Ireland. The abbey, which was in the Early Pointed style, was founded by David I. in 1147 for monks of the order of St Augustine. Several Scots parliaments met within its walls, notably that of 1326, the first attended by burgesses from the towns. At the Reformation Mary Queen of Scots bestowed it on the 1st earl of Mar (1562), who is said to have used the stones for his palace in Stirling. In 1709 the town council of Stirling purchased the land and ruins. All that remains of the abbey is the massive, four-storeyed tower—which is 70 ft. high, and 35 ft. square, and was painted and repaired in 1864—the graceful west doorway and the foundations of some of the walls. The bones of James III. and his queen, Margaret of Denmark, who were buried within the precincts, were discovered in 1864 and re-interred next year under a tomb erected by Queen Victoria at the high altar.

Earlier forms of the name of Stirling are Strivilen, Estriuelen, Striviling and Sterling, besides the Gaelic Struithla. It was known also as Snowdoun, which became the official title of the Scots heralds. The Romans had a station here (Benobara). In 1119 it was a royal burgh and under Alexander I. was one of the Court of Four Burghs (superseded under James III. by the Convention of Royal Burghs). In 1174 it was handed over to the English in security for the treaty of Falaise, being restored to the Scots by Richard I. The earliest known charter was that granted in 1226 by Alexander II., who made the castle a royal residence. The fortress was repeatedly besieged during the wars of the Scottish Independence. In 1304 it fell with the town to Edward I. The English held it for ten years, and it was in order to raise the Scottish siege in 1314 that Edward II. risked the battle at Bannockburn. Edward Baliol surrendered it in 1334 in terms of his compact with Edward III., but the Scots regained it in 1339. From this time till the collapse of Queen Mary’s fortunes in 1568, Stirling almost shared with Edinburgh the rank and privileges of capital of the kingdom. It was the birthplace of James II. in 1430 and probably of James III. and James IV. In 1571 an attempt was made to surprise the castle by Mary’s adherents, the regent Lennox being slain in the fray, and seven years later it was captured by James Douglas, 4th earl of Morton, after which a reconciliation took place between the Protestants and Roman Catholics. It was occupied in 1584 by the earls of Angus and Mar, the Protestant leaders, who, however, fled to England on the approach of the king. Next year they returned with a strong force and compelled James VI, to open the gates, his personal safety having been' guaranteed. In 1 504 Prince Henry was baptized in the chapel royal, which had been rebuilt on a larger scale. After the union of the crowns (1603) Stirling ceased to play a prominent part on the national stage. The privy council and court of session met in the town in 1637 on account of the disturbed state of Edinburgh. In 1641 Charles I. gave it its last governing charter, and four years afterwards parliament was held in Stirling on account of the plague in the capital, but the outbreak of the pest in Stirling caused the legislators to remove to Perth. During the Civil War the Covenanters held the town, to which the committees of church and state adjourned after Cromwell’s victory at Dunbar (1650), but in August next year the castle was taken by General Monk. In 1715 the 3rd duke of Argyll held it to prevent the passage of the Forth by the Jacobites, and in 1746 it was ineffectually besieged by Prince Charles Edward. In 1773, in consequence of an intrigue on the part of three members of the council to retain themselves in office, the town was deprived of its corporate privileges, which were not restored until 1781.

See History of the Chapel Royal, Stirling (Grampian Club, 1882); Charters of Stirling (1884); John Jamieson, Bell the Cat (Stirling, 1902); The Battle of Stirling Bridge—the Kildean Myth (Stirling Natural History and Archaeological Society, 1905).