Monday, 23 January 2017
Stirling Old Town and Graveyard. Wallace Monument. City in the Mist.
A dry but dull and exceedingly dreich Saturday saw myself and Alan head for Stirling- one of Scotland's oldest inhabited places and the former capital of the kingdom- before that pushy young upstart Edinburgh stole the title in the early 1400s.
We passed Stirling in the car driving to Blairlogie and Dumyat a few weeks ago and Alan remarked then that he'd like to wander around there and I fancied another visit myself as it's an area with loads of interest. I didn't want to waste a good sunny day on it though when we could have been up a hill somewhere so a dry but cloudy still morning seemed perfect for a visit to the historic town centre. Despite being a centre for habitation since pre-history times before the wheel, the Flintstones and the invention of the female friendly softer wood dating club, beloved of cavemen, Stirling only gained city status relatively recently.
Unlike other places around the world where a city can be a collection of low buildings on a plain, in a desert, or in a jungle with a start date of a mere 100 years or so and a population of 50, UK cities have to really graft hard for the coveted title. Stirling as a settlement was around before the bronze age, was well established before Jesus paddled across the water and Moses spoke to God.
"Can we be a city please? " (to assorted royals down the ages) "Aw C'mon, gies a shot! We've waited long enough! "
"Certainly not.. you're just a town! Know your place!"
Eventually, the present Queen relented during her Golden Jubilee period and Stirling was finally elevated in 2002 from royal burgh to city status. Hooray!
Alan was keen to visit the castle again to see the recent improvements although we had both been in it before years ago but an adult price tag of £14:50 each was considered too steep for something we had both seen and still remembered. Stirling Castle used to be around half the price of Edinburgh Castle but it's no longer the bargain it was, especially if you have children at £8:70 each. It is a great castle to explore but maybe the popularity of Braveheart, William Wallace and Rob Roy and the subsequent tourist numbers have bumped up the price. It's also £4 to park inside the castle car park. A couple of years ago was my last visit as I got in unexpectedly for free during September's Doors Open Day event. Not planned at the time to go in but I wasn't going to miss the opportunity :o)
We had already paid £2:70 to park up the hill near the castle (Sunday free parking here I think) and didn't mind that at all as that got us four hours to explore and I knew there was plenty to see below the castle for free. When we arrived the ancient city of Stirling was buried under thick mist which made the old graveyard just below the parapets and castle walls rather eerie and atmospheric. The suitable realm of old horror films, vampires, and the creepily creeping undead.
The modern kilt was invented by an Englishman by all accounts, likewise all the different colourful tartans and patterns we see today. Can't even claim the original plaid (longer wraparound kilt) as our own as that probably arrived from Ireland from what I've discovered in books about the subject. A celebrated Scottish freedom fighter now, in this own time he was regarded by the English and even many Scot's as a bloodthirsty terrorist, similar to the IRA, ETA and yes, even ISIS, for being public enemy number one. As such he couldn't surrender or escape, even if he wanted to, and was finally captured (betrayed by a fellow Scot) then publicly torn apart, as was the custom of the day, for people that threatened the crown and the established order. Bits of his body were sent out to be hung in various strategic cities and towns across the UK as a warning to anyone else thinking of revolt. Some new info on that.
The poor old wolf didn't get much of a hero's welcome however as they were increasingly exterminated wherever they were found and finally died out in the early 1700s. Good short history snippet here of man's best friend and enemy. The last stand of the poor old wolf. A much maligned creature.
This video seems apt for a Gothic looking Stirling. Great atmospheric music from a composition band who specialize in mood pieces, matched with a suitable film clip but not too scary, just interesting, and well conceived. She may be a vampire but I'd give her a wee tour round the graveyard any day or night ."I ain't afraid of no ghost!" My kind of girl. Amazing what you can do with a bible and a few candles but a plumber might have been a better choice. No wonder she's upset, sleeping for entirety in a wet coffin. I'd have taken the huff as well. A dry warm female is a happy female I've always found. Best watched full screen...with the lights out preferably :o)