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Visiting the Wallace Monument, near Stirling, Scotland: Victorian Gothic by John Thomas Rochead, dating from 1869

Updated on July 8, 2013
Flag of Scotland
Flag of Scotland | Source
Wallace Monument, Stirling, Scotland
Wallace Monument, Stirling, Scotland | Source
 Wallace Monument From the visitor centre below Abbey Craig.
Wallace Monument From the visitor centre below Abbey Craig. | Source
 Causewayhead from the Wallace Monument Looking south west over Causewayhead and the River Forth towards Stirling Castle.
Causewayhead from the Wallace Monument Looking south west over Causewayhead and the River Forth towards Stirling Castle. | Source
William Wallace
William Wallace | Source

Remembering a towering figure from Scotland's past

This is truly one of Scotland's most memorable structures.

It is the Wallace Monument, near Stirling. Actually, Scotland has various Wallace Monuments, so by rights this particular one is known as the National Wallace Monument.

Its architect was John Thomas Rochead (1814-1878)(1), who built the structure in Victorian Gothic style. Its hight is 67 metres. 246 steps lead to the top of the Monument.

What I think sets the Wallace Monument apart is the juxtaposition of various striking features, all of which, when considered independently, would still be impressive: its craggy architecture and sheer size as a Monument; the rugged, rocky hill country in which it is situated; the densely forested, immediate surroundings of Abbey Craig; the deep, historical associations with nearby Stirling, with its Castle and links with Medieval Scottish kings.

Not only are views of the Monument impressive, so are the views from it: clear vistas of the Ochil Hills and of the Forth River may be obtained from the structure.

In a not unusual custom historically in tower building in Scotland, the upper part of the Monument is wider than at its base. The Monument's execution in sandstone causes the structure at times to glow significant in direct sunlight.

Steeped in history

Near the base of the Monument, a well appointed visitor centre traces the historical background issues.

William Wallace (died 1305), whom the Monument commemorates, won the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, when he, together with Andrew Moray, led Scottish forces against the army of English King Edward I. Wallace has traditionally been very widely regarded in Scotland as a national hero. The 1995 historical drama war film Braveheart was based upon the life of William Wallace, and, whether or not the film in places takes liberties with history, the real life character, whose memory is often honoured in Scotland, is certainly regarded as as one who had a brave heart!

July 8, 2013


(1) Other works by Architect Rochead include the Royal Arch, Dundee, and several church buildings; he was known for specializing in Gothic style.

Map location of Stirling Unitary Council, Scotland
Map location of Stirling Unitary Council, Scotland | Source

Also worth seeing

In Stirling itself, Stirling Bridge (which gave its name to the famous battle at which William Wallace distinguished himself) and the historic, Medieval Castle associated with kings of Scotland are often visited. Stirling is sometimes known as the Gateway to the Highlands.

Dunfermline (distance: 34.7 kilometres) has the birthplace museum of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, and a Carnegie Library — the first of its kind; the City Chambers building with its prominent clock tower, an old abbey and a ruined, former royal palace of the Kings of Scotland.


How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Glasgow Airport, where car rental is available. However, travellers may prefer to use bus services or rail links into Glasgow City Centre; there are bus links between Glasgow's Buchanan Bus Station and Stirling, and rail links between Glasgow Queen Street Station and Stirling; alternatively, travellers may find it more convenient to include Stirling's Wallace Monument as part of a booked tour. Please note that facilities mentioned may be withdrawn without notice. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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    • MJFenn profile image

      MJFenn 4 years ago

      Anna Haven: It's certainly an interesting place. Thank-you for your comment.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 4 years ago from Scotland

      Interesting and well written article.