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Why Stirling Is Best For Scottish History

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

There are many places in Scotland that have contributed hugely to its history, but amid the current focus on happenings in Edinburgh as the SNP seek to find a new Scottish first minister to replace the outgoing Nicola Sturgeon, it is perhaps important to note that Holyrood is not where the biggest Scottish history has been made.

While Edinburgh may be the capital and the seat of devolved power these days - and perhaps one day that of an independent country again - the fact is the area around Stirling has had more impact on Scottish history.

After all, it was at Stirling Bridge in 1297 that the Scots led by William Wallace defeated the forces of the English King Edward. And while Wallace was eventually captured and executed down in London, the baton was picked up by King Robert the Bruce, whose triumph just south of Stirling at Bannockburn in 1314 was a key victory in the Scottish wars of independence.

That’s why you should go and see these sites before you have dinner in Stirling. Yes, there were many important battles elsewhere, but a lot of them were later events after the 1707 Act of Union involving the utterly unsuccessful Jacobite rebellions, most famously Culloden.

Jacobinism was ultimately more about restoring the Stuart Monarchy than independence, even if it did mean tartan and bagpipes being banned for many years, so while it had an impact on Scottish history (not least as the later revival of Highland dress and instruments made them symbols of Scottishness), it did not actually redefine its governance. It had more effect on wider British history.

Of course, none of the contenders for the First Minister role will have to fight any battles around Stirling. Whoever wins will have future campaigning to do, no doubt, with a few visits to the city. But, with no arrows to fire or swords to wield, they might just find time to pop in and visit us for a bite to eat.

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