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. Even today the wolf appears with a goshawk on the council's coat of arms along with the recently chosen motto: "Steadfast as the Rock".
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 Adam Bothwell, 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.
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. One proposal is that Stirling derives from Gaelic srib-linn, meaning "stream-pool" or similar. Other sources suggest that it originates in a Brythonic name meaning "dwelling place of Melyn", with the first element being connected to Middle Welshystre-, "a dwelling". The name may have originally been a hydronym, and connected to Brittonic *lïnn, "lake, pool" (Welshllyn).
It is often argued 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 in Stirling are now destroyed but comprised two Neolithic Cursus in Bannockburn. The earliest known surviving structure is a fort 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. The Wallstale structure is later than the Gillies Hill fort and is related in form to brochs, these appear to coincide with the Roman period and there are around 40 or so in the wider area. South of the city, the King's Park prehistoric carvings can still be found.
Roman and early Medieval
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 unitingwitness 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 has only the second part, in a slightly different form:
Hic Armis Bruti Scoti Stant Hic Cruce Tuti
(Brits and Scots armed and near, by this cross stand safe here.)
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.
A more modern translation suggests that rather than Briton, bruit might be better read as brute, ie brute Scots, implying a non-Scots identity was retained in Stirling for some time after inclusion into the land controlled by the King of Scots.
The second motto is:
Continet Hoc in Se Nemus et Castrum Strivelinse
(Contained within this seal pressed down, the wood an' castle o' Stirlin' town.)
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.
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.
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-doleritesill, 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.
Areas of Stirling
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%.
Historical records also exist both in book form and in online databases.
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.
Hotel Colessio. Tourism is a major part of the economy of Stirling
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 Thistlesshopping 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.
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 Forthside 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.
In the service sector, financial services as well as tourism are the biggest employers. The financial services and insurance company Prudential established a large and base at Craigforth on the outskirts of Stirling in the 1970s.
In terms of tourism, the presence of such historical monuments as Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument and other nearby attractions like Blair Drummond Safari Park has bolstered Stirling's position as a significant tourist destination in Scotland.
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.
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 has no airport, but there are international airports at Glasgow and Edinburgh which can be reached within an hour. Light aircraft can be chartered at Cumbernauld Airport.
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.
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 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 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 3,105 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).
Looking out over Airthrey Loch on the main campus of The University of Stirling
The University of Stirling (1973) colour and sound 19 min – 1970s campus, students and teachers (includes Norman MacCaig).
FutureWorld Stirling 1984 (1984) 28 minutes – dir. Peter G. Reilly for Stirling District Council – has Magnus Magnusson explaining ambitious plans for the Top of the Town. It is more of a series of pieces to camera than Cumbernauld, Town for Tomorrow, as Magnusson moves from the Smith through various well-known but dilapidated buildings to Gowan Hill and back to the castle. At each stop he presents John W. Morgan's script which gives something of the history or the proposed plans for revitalising the area.