STIRLING - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer (1868)]

"STIRLING, a parish, ancient town and port, royal and parliamentary burgh, and the county town of the county of its name, situated mainly in the N. of Stirlingshire, but including the Abbey district, or Cambus-Kenneth, in Clackmannanshire, 28 miles N.E. of Glasgow, and 35 N.W. of Edinburgh. It is the junction station of the Scottish Central, Forth and Clyde Junction, and Stirling and Dunfermline section of the Edinburgh and Glasgow railways. This place, which is of high antiquity, is situated at the confluence of the Teith with the Forth, covering the ridge of an isolated trap rock, which rises to an altitude of 220 feet above the Forth at its base, and 350 above sea-level, and presents a resemblance of form to the Acropolis of Athens, and to the Castle rock of Edinburgh. The parish includes, besides the royal burgh of Stirling, the village of Raploch and part of the village of Causewayhead; while the village of Abbey, which forms a suburb of Stirling, on the N. bank of the Forth, for civil purposes is considered as belonging to the parish of Logie, in Clackmannanshire. It appears to have been selected by Agricola for the site of a military station on account of its commanding the most important pass between the northern and southern divisions of the island, on the direct line of the great causeway which ran from the W. of England to the Grampians. After having continued for several centuries in the hands of the Scots, it subsequently became a seat of the Saxon kings of Northumbria, who are related to have rebuilt the castle, and to have constructed the stone bridge across the Forth about the middle of the 9th century, and on which, in 1571, Archibald Hamilton, of St. Andrew's, was executed. Besides the natural defence formed on two sides of the Forth, and on another by the precipitousness of the face of the hill, the town has on every side been artificially fortified. On the N.W. is the castle, originally a single tower; on the N. and N.E. are vestiges of a great ditch; on the E. ran a wall, passing a little E. of the present Athenĉum; and on the S., where no protection is afforded by the river, runs a strong wall along the brink of the precipice. Towards the close of the 11th century it rose into consequence, and in the course of the succeeding century it attained the distinction of being one of the four principal fortresses in Scotland, and such it continued during the sanguinary and protracted contest which Edward I. of England commenced for the subjugation of Scotland. In the course of that struggle this castle and its vicinity formed the theatre of some of the most brilliant achievements of Sir William Wallace, of which one was the battle fought before Stirling on -the 13th September, 1297, and in which the English army sustained a signal overthrow. In the following year the castle was captured by Sir W. Wallace, after the battle of Falkirk, and dismantled, but was speedily repaired by Edward II., who held it only a year. The castle first became a favourite residence of the Scottish kings in the reign of James I., whose son, James II., was born in it in 1430, and was brought up here under the government of Sir Thomas Livingstone. On the occasion of the assassination of the young Earl of Douglas by the king the town was burnt by his partisans. In the following reign it afforded a secure retreat to James III. from his turbulent nobles, and in it James IV. frequently resided during Lent, as it is said, to do penance for the part he had acted in his father's death. James V. was born and crowned in the castle, which then communicated with the town by the Windy Pass, or Ballangeich road. In his reign the new palace was built within the castle walls, and under the Regent Mary of Guise the French battery was added to the castle. Both Mary Queen of Scots and her son James VI. were crowned here. The latter monarch built the new chapel, in which his son Prince Henry was baptised, and whose room, with that of his tutor Buchanan, are still shown. The castle was visited by Charles I. whilst on his progress through Scotland, and by Charles II. in 1650, shortly before the battle of Worcester. In 1651 General Monk besieged the castle, and finally reduced it, when the national registers and old Scotch standard measures were carried off. By the Articles of Union with England this castle was declared to be one of the four fortresses of Scotland which were ever after to be kept in repair. Since that period it has experienced little change in external aspect, and is now used as barracks, and the chapel of James VI. as an armoury. It is commanded by a fort-major and subalterns, assisted by a barrack-master, who is likewise storekeeper. Stirling, as a royal burgh, is one of great antiquity, having received its first charter from Alexander I. It is governed by a provost, 4 baillies, a treasurer, dean of guild, and 14 councillors, with the style of high sheriff and sheriffs, having a cumulative jurisdiction with the sheriff of the county within the burgh jurisdiction. This burgh, in connection with Culross, Queensferry, Inverkeithing, and Dunfermline, returns one member to parliament. The parliamentary constituency in 1861 was 599, and the municipal 487. The parliamentary bounds comprise, besides the parish of Stirling, parts of the adjoining parishes of Logie and St. Ninian's. The population of the royal burgh in 1851 was 9,361, while that of the parliamentary was 12,837, and in 1861, 13,846. The main part of the town, like the old town of Edinburgh, is built on the sloping ridge of a rock, the precipitous end of which, towards the W., is occupied by the castle, as above described. The approaches to* the town from every side are unsurpassed by those of any other town in Scotland. The streets, though somewhat irregularly laid out, owing to the uneven character of the ground, are in general spacious and well built. Great improvements have of late years been effected both in the town and suburbs, especially since the reformed council came into office. The streets are well paved, lighted with gas, and the houses supplied with good water, brought from a distance of three miles. The expenses of the public works are defrayed out of a fund termed "the common good," without assessing any one; so that Stirling is one of the cheapest towns for residence in the three kingdoms. The suburbs comprise the villages of Bellfield, Newhouse, Melville-place, and the Craigs, extending along the roads to St. Ninian's and Airth. The public buildings are the town-house, which stands in Broad-street, opposite the site of the old cross, with a lofty tower containing a set of musical chimes; the new county gaol, erected in 1848 at a cost of £10,000; the old gaol and county buildings, or custom house; new corn exchange, erected in 1839; a dispensary, savings-bank, poorhouse, erected in 1857; Athenĉum, with a lofty spire; and the Drummond Agricultural Museum, built in 1840, and containing a collection of objects connected with rural economy; also two bridges -viz: the ancient one mentioned above, the S. arch of which was destroyed by General Blakeney in 1745 to cut off the retreat of the Highlanders, and the new bridge from Abbey Craig, built at a cost of £17,000. On account of the shallowness of the water in the Forth, which is only 5½ feet at neap, and 11 at spring, tides, very little foreign commerce is carried on, but steam vessels ply daily to Granton, and when the tide will permit to Edinburgh. A plan for deepening the river has been several times discussed at the town council, but not yet agreed upon. The harbour is a simple wharf, called Stirling shore, and the port is a creek to Alloa. Its revenue is about £500 a year, and the aggregate tonnage of vessels entering the port 2,000 tons, wholly employed in the coasting trade, or in the fisheries, which are productive. A considerable business is done in corn, malt, coals, wool, timber, bricks, tiles, lime, and agricultural produce. The manufactures are cotton goods, woollens, tartans, tartan-shawls, carpets, yarns, leather, ropes, candles, and soap; the manufacture of shalloons, largely carried on in the 16th and 17th centuries, is now almost extinct, as was that of tartans, until revived by the publication of the Waverley novels. The town contains six commercial banks, several hotels, subscription and free libraries, reading-rooms, school of arts, an agricultural association, horticultural, writers', and Caledonian societies, central medical association, Adamson's bursary, fishing and curling clubs. The register of sasines goes back to 1473, and the council records to 1597. Two weekly newspapers, the Stirling Journal and Observer, are published in the town, the former on Friday, and the latter on Thursday; also one monthly paper, the British Messenger. Stirling is the head-quarters of the county militia, and the seat of an excise collection. Being the county town, the justiciary and sheriffs' courts are held here, and are attended by a number of procurators, resident in the town. Sheriffs' county courts are held every Tuesday and Friday, sheriff small-debt courts every Friday, and justice of peace small-debt courts on the first Monday in each month. One of the principal attractions of Stirling is the walk carried under the S. wall of the town, in the face of the castle rock, and in many places cut out of the stone. Stirling gave title of earl and viscount to the Alexanders, and was the birth-place of Graham, the botanist, in 1786. It gives name to a presbytery and synod, both of the Established and Free churches. The parish is a collegiate charge, in three divisions, value respectively £350, £250, and £200. The edifice now occupied as the E. and W. parochial churches is a Gothic structure of hewn stone, with an arched roof supported by two rows of plain, massive pillars. It was originally built by James IV. in 1494, for the use of the convent of Franciscans, or Grey Friars, but at the time of the Reformation became the parish church, and so continued till 1656, when it was divided by a blank partition wall into the E. and W. churches; the former has a chapel built by Cardinal Beaton, in which the Regent Arran publicly renounced Popery in 1543, and in which Knox preached before James VI. The third parish church, called the North Kirk, was erected in 1842 in Murray-place, on ground formerly belonging to the Dominican monastery founded by Alexander II. An ancient chapel, dedicated to St. Ninian, stood near the South Port, and gave name to a copious spring, which furnished the main supply of water to the citizens previous to 1774. There are two Free churches, the N. and S., and two United Presbyterian churches, also several other places of worship belonging to various denominations. Stirling has been long celebrated for its schools and hospitals; some of the latter are foundations of long standing, and well endowed, as Cowane's hospital, founded in 1633; the Spittal hospital, founded in 1530 for decayed burgesses, and two mortifications; Allan's and Cunningham's, for maintaining and educating 50 boys. There are four burgh schools, one of which, the High School, built in 1854, is a first-class mathematical and classical academy, partially supported out of the burgh fund, and partly by appropriations from Allan's, Spittal's, and Cowane's bequests; also a school of arts, ragged school, five ladies' schools, and about fifteen other denominational and private schools. In and around Stirling are numerous ancient structures and antiquities, as the King's Knott, or Arthur's Round Table, where tournaments were held; the Ladies' Rock, where the ladies looked on; the Moat Hill, or Hurley-Hacket, where executions took place; the ruins of the Regent Marr's house, situated in Broad-street; and Argyle's Lodgings (built in 1637 by the first Earl of Stirling), in Castle Wynd-alley. The race-course, situated in the ancient park, is an oblong of 1 mile 3 furlongs and 180 yarns in circuit. Market day is on Friday. Fairs are held on the first Fridays in February, March, April, August, and 5 November; on the last Friday in March, the third Friday in September, and the second Friday in December; also a statute fair for hiring farm servants in October."

"CRAIGFORTH, a village in the parish and county of Stirling, Scotland, 2 miles from Stirling. The principal residence is Craigforth House."

"KILDEAN, a hamlet in the parish and county of Stirling, Scotland. It is situated near the bridge by which the English crossed the Forth at the battle, of Stirling."

"RAPLOCH, a village in the parish and county of Stirling, Scotland. It is a suburb of Stirling, situated about three-quarters of a mile from the bridge, and immediately under the castle. This was the birth-place of Dougald Grahame, the bellman of Glasgow, who composed numerous ballads, and penny histories."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]

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