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Stirling Castle Photographs

From the earliest times the rugged security of Stirling Rock must have attracted settlers as a place of refuge and point of vantage but there is no trace of prehistoric fortifications. Peat-bogs, succeeding the forest lands, surrounded the rock and accentuated its isolation. The scene changed with the centuries, however, for the mosses were transformed into fertile plains while upon the impregnable crag was set a structure which became a residence and refuge for kings, a prison for recalcitrant subjects and a storehouse for munitions. Of vital strategic importance, the fortress changed hands more often than any other Scottish castle, and one of the decisive battles of Scottish history was fought for the possession of it on the field of Bannockburn.

Alexander I (1107—24)
The Castle of Stirling first emerges into the light of history in the time of Alexander I who, according to a document of the following reign, dedicated a chapel there. Alexander died at the Castle in 1124 and was succeeded by his brother David, who frequently stayed at Stirling. While in residence there it is probable he watched the beginnings of the nearby Abbey of Cambuskenneth, which he founded in 1147.

Treaty of Falaise, 1174
For half a century after the death of Alexander little is noted in connection with the Castle but its growing national importance was signally recognised in 1174 under the terms of the Treaty of Falaise. Captured by the English at Alnwick, William the Lion was compelled to sign a treaty which provided that the chief Scottish castles,
including Stirling, should be garrisoned by English soldiers. It is doubtful whether Stirling was thus occupied before the various castles were handed back by Richard I. Forty years after the treaty was signed King William, realising that his health was failing, returned from an expedition into Moray to Stirling, where he died in December, 1214.

During subsequent reigns the fortress continued to be a favoured resort; councils were held within its walls and pleasure-grounds were planned. Payments to the Sheriff of Stirling in 1263 included sums for feeding does in winter, for the wages of a foxhunter to destroy vermin, and for strong wooden paling to enclose the new park.
Such developments, however, were rudely interrupted by the approach of King Haakon of Norway on an attempted invasion of Scotland from the west. The garrison at Stirling was strengthened and the Exchequer Rolls record the services of watchers at ‘the inland fortress of Stirling at the time when the King of Norway was in these parts.’

Wars of Independence
The period occupied by the struggle for the independence of Scotland is outstanding in the history of the Castle of Stirling, for when there was no fixed seat of government the aim of the invader was to occupy the place of greatest strategic importance. Standing sentinel over the fords of the Forth and not far from the estuary,
the Castle dominated the passage to the north of Scotland and became inevitably the focus of military operations. Capture by the English was at first an easy matter for the triumphal progress northward of Edward I, after his capture of Berwick in 1296, had inspired awe and when he reached Stirling ‘they that were in the castell ran away, and left non but the Porter, which did render the keyes.’ Edward’s sojourn at Stirling was brief, but he again visited it on his return south. In the following year the Scots under Wallace dealt a severe blow at English supremacy by their victory at Stirling Bridge. Sir Marmaduke de Twenge found his position as keeper of the Castle untenable and was forced to retire before the victorious Scots. The triumph was short-lived and only a year later Edward was repairing the destruction wrought by Wallace before the latter abandoned the Castle. When the Scots again laid siege the Governor, John Simpson, appealed in vain for support from Edward whose barons considered a winter in Scotland an unattractive proposal. On the surrender of
the garrison the custody of the Castle was entrusted to Sir ‘William Oliphant and for some years Edward avoided Stirling.

Edward I besieges Stirling Castle, 1304
In 1304 the Castle of Stirling was the last stronghold in the patriot’s hands and in April of that year Edward began his great siege. The English king had wintered at Dunfermline and had made careful preparations; carpenters, ditchers, and other workmen were summoned from the Lothians, the most ingenious engines of attack were requisitioned, and knights were forbidden to participate in tournaments without special permission. With the surrender of Sir John Comyn and his followers at Strathord, near Perth, the last hope of the garrison failed and the obstinacy of their resistance to the onslaughts of the English is therefore still more remarkable. In his
determination to reduce the Castle, Edward went so far as to command his son to procure lead to weight the siege engines by stripping the roofs of adjacent churches, leaving only the altars protected. For three months the defenders held out and their final surrender was due rather to the imminence of starvation than to the success of Edward’s methods of attack. On the 24th of July Oliphant and his followers marched out and were subsequently despatched to various English prisons. It is recorded that, as a final demonstration, Edward forbade any of his followers to enter the Castle after the
surrender until it had been struck by the War-Wolf; an engine of novel construction. This assault was witnessed by the Queen and her ladies from a window specially constructed in a house in the town. For ten years the Castle remained a significant symbol of English authority, preventing intercourse between the north and the south.
In 1313, however, Edward Bruce, brother of King Robert, blockaded the fortress until Sir Philip Mowbray, the English governor, proposed terms by which he agreed to surrender the Castle if it was not relieved before St John’s day, 24th June, 1314. Edward Bruce agreed to the
terms, to the alarm of his brother, who did not feel prepared to meet the English in a pitched battle.

Battle of Bannockburn, 1314
Marching north with his vast feudal host, and in sight of the Castle of Stirling, Edward ii sent forward a detachment to assist the garrison. This troop of horsemen was driven back, and on the 24th of June the Scots completed their triumph on the field of Bannock-
burn. The Castle was delivered up in terms of the stipulation and Edward Bruce’s bold agreement thereby justified. In accordance with his policy of dismantling all strongholds that might harbour English garrisons, King Robert destroyed the fortifications. But after the defeat of the Scots at Halidon Hill Stirling was again garrisoned by the English under Sir Thomas de Rokeby, who undertook extensive works of renovation.

In 1337 the strengthened Castle was besieged by Sir Andrew Moray, but was relieved by Edward in and heavily provisioned in readiness for a renewed attack. Recapture by the Scots, however, was not long delayed, for in April, 1342, the garrison was forced to yield.

With the accession of the Stewarts, Stirling became once more a Royal abode. In 1373 Robert II’s son, Robert, Earl of Menteith and Fife and later Duke of Albany, was appointed Keeper of the Castle and did much to repair and fortify it. His son, Murdoch, succeeded to the office of Keeper until the return of King James I from captivity in England in 1424. Alarmed at the power of his nobles, the King determined to take stern measures to establish his own authority and after a perfunctory trial Murdoch was executed on the Heading Hill at Stirling with two of his sons and his father-in-law, the aged Earl of Lennox. The severity of James antagonised many and was responsible for his assassination in 1437 by Sir Robert
Graham, who was thereafter put to death by torture at Stirling.

James II at Stirling
Shortly after his coronation at Holyrood James II was taken by his mother to the Castle of Stirling, at that time in the keeping of Sir Alexander Livingstone of Callendar. Livingstone asserted his authority and obtained custody of the child but was surprised by Sir William Crichton, the Chancellor, who carried James to the Castle of Edinburgh, of which he was Governor.

Murder of Douglas, February, 1452
In later years the King made the Castle of Stirling a dower-house for his Queen, Mary of Gueldres, and in the year of his marriage a magnificent tournament was held below the Castle walls in which Burgundian and Scottish knights took part. Only three years after, however, the gaiety of the Castle was overcast by a crime committed
within its walls. James II, believing that William, eighth Earl of Douglas, was plotting against him, invited the Earl to Stirling and sent a letter of safe-conduct. The Earl accepted and was cordially received. Dinner passed quietly, and the King then summoned his guest into an inner chamber to confer. The interview was short; it
is supposed that the discussion concerned the league of Douglas with the Earl of Crawford, which the former declared he would not or could not dissolve. The very existence of the monarchy appeared to James to depend on the breaking up of this formidable combination, and blind with fury at Douglas’s refusal he seized his dagger and struck the Earl. The attendant courtiers completed the act and the corpse was flung out of the window. Examination of the case against the King was delayed until Crawford’s rebellion had been put down and when Parliament met on the 12th of June they declared James guiltless on the following grounds: first that Douglas had
publicly scorned the safe-conduct; second that he had been guilty of oppressions and had entered into conspiracies, and third that he had brought about his own death by resisting the King’s request for aid against rebels. The act, however, which was intended to suppress rebellion, served rather to foment it and after a few weeks had passed James, ninth Earl of Douglas and brother of the late Earl, who had tilted with the Burgundian knights in Stirling, re-entered the city. He caused much destruction as he rode through the streets
brandishing the letter of safe-conduct, but found the Castle too strong for him.

Birth of James III at Stirling, 1451
On the death of James ix at the siege of Roxburgh Castle a minor again succeeded to the throne of Scotland. James III was born at the Castle of Stirling in 1451 and Lindsay of Pitscottie tells of his later preference for this residence for ‘he tuik sic pleasour to duall thair that he left all other castellis and touns in Scotland, because
he thocht it maist pleasantest dwelling thair.’ James enjoyed literary society, which in those days was to be had mainly among churchmen. Having founded the Chapel Royal of Stirling, and wishing to attract the most learned clerics, he endowed it richly with the revenues of
Coldingham Priory, situated in the country of the Homes and Hepburns. The Homes, however, considered that the funds appertamed to them and determined to resist any encroachment on their rights. The alliance of the Hepburns with the Homes was the beginning of an insurrection which spread far and wide. The king at once made preparations for the struggle. Before going north to rally his loyal subjects he entrusted his son, the Duke
of Rothesay, to Shaw of Sauchie, at that time castellan of Stirling. Shaw proved to be a fickle adherent and in the King’s absence the young heir to the throne was handed over to the rebels. King James returned south and was refused entrance into the Castle of Stirling.
On the 11th of June, 1488 the King was defeated at Sauchieburn, and was overtaken and slain as he fled from the field.

James IV, 1488—1513
Remorse for the part he had played in the rebellion against his father frequently drove James IV to return to Stirling. It is said that he ‘daylie passit to the Chapell Royall’ and ‘was ewer sade and dollorous in his mynd for the deid (death) of his father’; as a sign of repentance he ‘gart mak ane belt of irone and wore it dailie about
him and eiket (added to) it everie zeir (year) during his lyfetyme certaine once wyght (ounce weight) as he thocht goode.’ King James had also less gloomy reasons for visiting Stirling. His delight in hunting is witnessed by frequent references to the Royal preserves and Stirling proved to be a convenient centre for expeditions into
the forest of Glenartney. On such occasions tents were taken for the accommodation of the King and his suite and the assistance of many huntsmen was requisitioned; after one excursion payment was made to more than three hundred men. Tournaments again brought splendour to the environs of the grim fortress and within its walls
the Royal minstrels entertained the assembled court. The ‘Great Garden’ or ‘King’s Knot,’ one of the earliest ornamental gardens in Scotland, continued to be kept up, as the regular fees to the gardener show, and a new park was formed. In this, in addition to deer and boars, roamed the wild white cattle, not unlike the herds of
Chillingham. Fish were brought from all parts of the country for the Royal table and an entry in the Exchequer Rolls concerns the delivery of two dozen live quails. Cranes and peacocks in the grounds added to the picturesqueness of a period which was unsurpassed in the later history of the Castle.

Structural improvements were taking place at the same time, and iithe erection of the Chapel Royal into a Collegiate church is also attributed to James IV. In 1503 Parliament confirmed the appropriation of the rents of various lands and churches in the King’s patronage for the support of the increased staff of clergy and in the
following year Pope Julius II appointed the Bishop of Whithorn to be Dean of the Chapel Royal.

Other events at Stirling reflect less credit on the King, for although he received many distinguished ambassadors and foreign visitors, be also welcomed Perkin Warbeck, the impostor who claimed the throne of England. The King’s interest in alchemy made frequent calls upon the exchequer and it was in the course of such investigations that a plausible foreigner named John Damian gained the
Royal favour. To impress the King still further it is said that Damian announced that he would fly from the battlements of Stirling Castle with a pair of wings constructed by himself. An account of this experiment is given in a satirical poem by William Dunbar, entitled
‘The Fenyeit Freir of Tungland.‘

In the midst of such diversions the cares of the realm pressed ever more closely until the fateful year, 1513. In April Nicholas West, the envoy of Henry VIIi, held several interviews with the King at Stirling but failed to persuade him to abandon his league with France. In September the nation was mourning the loss of a well-loved sovereign on Flodden Field.

The practice of bestowing the Castle of Stirling upon the Queen as a dower-house had been continued and after the death of her husband Queen Margaret retired there with her infant son. Upon her marriage with the Earl of Angus she was deprived of the regency, and when the Duke of Albany, the younger brother of James III, was appointed, he demanded the custody of the Royal
children. Commissioners were sent to carry out the Duke’s orders, but retired before Queen Margaret’s bold refusal. Such defiance brought the Regent of Stirling and to him the boy’ king handed the keys of the Castle. Albany installed a garrison of one hundred and forty men and gave the princes into the custody of the Earl Marischal and the Lords Fleming and Borthwick.

Like his father, James V spent much of his childhood at Stirling. In 1522 he was placed for two years under the care of Lord Erskine, who was appointed Keeper of the Castle. Then, for a short period, he returned to his mother’s charge in Edinburgh where he was acknowledged as an independent sovereign by the nobles. Determined to strengthen his position the Earl of Angus obtained possession of the young King, but paid heavily for his ambitious intentions when James escaped again to Stirling. Pitscottie relates the flight of James from Falkland Palace and ingenuously describes the joy of the captain of Stirling, who ‘prepairit the castell witht all
neidfull thingis ifor his coming, syne gart steik the zettis and drew downe the portculeis and pat the king in his bed to sleip because he had ridin all night.’

The Palace of Stirling
The Castle was ceded by Queen Margaret to her son who was later responsible for the completion of the Palace building. James also improved the defences of the Castle, for he sent ‘to Flanderis and brocht hame artaillye and harneis witht powder and bullat and pickis witht all kynde of other munitionn partenant to ane price and garnishchit. . . thairwitht. . . the Castell of Stirling.’ The King stayed frequently at Stirling with his second wife, Mary of Guise, and the Treasurer’s Accounts record many acts of kindly courtesy and humanity to those in distress. Moreover, tales are told of the ‘Guidman of Ballengeich,’ who wandered in disguise to study the conditions of his subjects. The country prospered, but another reign
ended on a note of tragedy. Weighed down by calamities, including the loss of his two sons, James V died on the 14th December, 1542, a week after the birth of his daughter Mary. The Earl of Arran was then appointed Governor of the Realm and for the first seven months of her life Mary remained at Linlithgow. In July, 1543, however, Arran’s rival, Cardinal Beaton, rode over from Stirling with the Earls of Lennox, Argyll, and Huntly at
the head of a large force. Arran did not feel strong enough to resist their designs and allowed the Royal child and her mother to be carried to Stirling where they remained under the charge of John, Lord Erskine, Constable of the Castle. The removal was generally
approved as the fortress, on account of its accessibility to the Highlands and distance from England, was considered to be a place of greater security than Edinburgh.

Coronation of Mary, Queen of Scots, at Stirling
On the 9th of September the young Queen was crowned, but the ceremony appeared unworthy to eyes accustomed to the magnificence of the English court; Sir Ralph Sadler, Henry VIII’s envoy, related that it took place ‘with such solemnity as they do use in this country,
which is not very costly.’ For four years the child remained with her mother at the Castle until the disastrous battle of Pinkie Cleuch.

Thereafter the rock fortress itself seemed unsafe and the precious ward was removed to the seclusion of the island priory of Inchmahome in the Lake of Menteith. When the immediate danger had passed she returned to Stirling, travelling thence to Dumbarton. After her daughter had sailed to the friendly realm of France the V Queen Mother visited Stirling frequently but she did not survive to
welcome home the young widow who arrived in 1561.

On her return to Scotland Queen Mary spent much time at Holyroodhouse but found Stirling a convenient halting-place on her journeys to and from the north. One night as she slept there a candle set fire to the curtains of her bed and she was almost over-powered by smoke. Her rescue from the flames prevented the fulfilment of an old prophecy which declared that a queen would be burnt in Stirling. During the same visit an unfortunate disturb-
ance occurred in the Chapel Royal; the Queen’s half-brother, Lord James, and the Earl of Argyll, in their zeal for the Protestant cause, attacked the chaplains with such fury that blood was shed. The Queen’s passionate attachment to Henry Stewart, Lord Darnicy, was responsible for a longer visit to Stirling in 1565. The
young nobleman was confined to bed there for two months and Queen Mary refused to travel until he had recovered.

Baptism of James VI at Stirling, 1566
In 1566 Stirling was again chosen as the refuge of a Royal infant, when he was two months old Prince James was transported thence from Edinburgh. Towards the end of the year the Queen followed and elaborate preparations were made for the Royal baptism on the
17th of December, 1566. On this occasion no expense was spared and a special grant was voted by the Estates to mark the magnificence of the event. Distinguished representatives from England and France assembled, bringing costly gifts for the child and for his mother, including a gold font from Queen Elizabeth, the Royal godmother. Torches lined the way from the nursery to
the Chapel, where the Prince was received by the Archbishop of St Andrews and the Bishops of Dunkeld, Dunbianc and Ross and baptised according to the rites of the Church of Rome. After the ceremony the company adjourned to supper and were entertained for the remainder of the evening with music and dancing. Only the estrangement of the child’s parents shadowed the day: Darnley, although living in the Castle, was not present at the christening of his son. Two days later, with every appearance of gaiety, the unhappy Queen gave a banquet, followed by a display of fireworks in honour of her guests. She then created her son Prince of Scotland, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Kyle and Cunningham, and Baron of Renfrew.

Mary remained at Stirling after the ambassadors had left but in the middle of January she took the Prince to Edinburgh. Two months later James was carried back to Stirling by the Earls of Huntly and Argyll and placed in tile charge of John, Lord Erskine, now Earl of Mar. Shortly before her marriage to Bothwell the Queen paid her last visit to Stirling. Subsequently, in order to strengthen his
position, Bothwell attempted to obtain custody of James but Mar refused to give up his Royal charge.

On the 29th of July, 1567, a few days after the abdication of Queen Mary, the thirteen-months-old Prince was crowned in the Parish Kirk of Stirling as James VI. The child was anointed by the Protestant Bishop of Orkney and was afterwards taken to the Castle by the Earl of Mar while the Earl of Atholl carried the crown.
Amid the echoes of civil war James remained at Stirling under the personal guardianship of Mar. When Dumbarton Castle was captured by the King’s party in 1571, John Hamilton, Archbishop of St Andrews was taken to Stirling and confined in the Castle until his execution.

Finding Edinburgh hostile to them, the King’s party adjourned a meeting of the Estates and retired to Stirling where a Parliament was held in August, 1571. Shortly afterwards the town was surprised by a body of the Queen’s supporters and much damage was done before they were routed by the Castle garrison. Regent Lennox was wounded in the struggle and died some hours later.

Regency of the Earl of Morton
The Earl of Mar was chosen as the new Regent but died in the following year and was succeeded by the Earl of Morton. Morton determined that the young King should remain at the Castle of Stirling under the tutelage of George Buchanan, Peter Young, and the Commendators of Cambuskenneth and Dryburgh. Under the strict discipline of Buchanan the Royal pupil made good progress, showing special aptitude for languages.

During his tenure of office Morton made many and powerful enemies and by March, 1578, feeling was so strong against him, that he was compelled to send his resignation to a convention of peers summoned to Stirling in the King’s name. Only a month later, however, Morton was again plotting to obtain possession of James, who was then twelve years old. On the 26th of April the young Earl of Mar, probably at the instigation of Morton, called for the keys of the Castle on pretence of passing out on a hunting expedition. Alexander Erskine of Gogar, Governor of the Castle, resisted his nephew’s request and a scuffle ensued in which Erskine’s son was crushed to death. The parties then retired to discuss the situation,
with the result that the Earl of Mar was allowed to take over the charge of the King and the keeping of the Castle. Further precautions for the safety of the King seemed necessary and it was decreed that he should remain in the Castle, that no earl was to be received
within the gates with more than two attendants, no lord with more than one, and no gentleman with any retainer at all. Morton soon broke through the decrees, persuading Mar to admit him to the Castle, with his followers towards the end of May. Having reasserted his authority, Morton proceeded to give the appearance
of regularity to his acts and a proclamation was issued declaring that the King was not detained in the Castle against his will.

When Morton’s opponents protested against a meeting of the Estates being held within the fortress of Stirling they were silenced by the declaration of James that the Parliament was free. So much were the nobles incensed against Morton that civil war seemed imminent. In August, 1578, Atholl and Argyll collected a force to
march to Stirling, ‘to obtain deliverance of the king’s person.’ The King issued an order for them to disband and an agreement was finally reached, largely through the intervention of two ecclesiastical leaders and of Bowes, the English ambassador. Strife was averted and a reconciliation banquet was held in the Castle of Stirling. In September, 1579, a distinguished visitor, who was to be responsible for the downfall of Morton, arrived at the Castle. The magnificence of Esme Stewart, Lord of Aubigny, dazzled the young King, who impetuously placed his confidence in the stranger and soon created him Earl of Lennox. Together with another favourite, James Stewart, Lennox plotted for the overthrow of Morton and in 1581 the ex-Regent was condemned to death for having been concerned in the murder of Darnley.

Raid of Ruthven, 1581
The ascendancy of Lennox was brief. In August a number of nobles, including the Earls of Mar and Gowrie, seized the King who was visiting Lord Ruthven at the House of Ruthven’ and carried him to Stirling. There the participators in the ‘Raid of Ruthven’ issued proclamations vindicating their conduct and declaring that the King was a free agent. Driven from power some months later Angus, Mar, and Gowrie again attempted to seize the Castle of Stirling. The conspiracy failed, however, and the Earl of Gowrie was tried for treason, found guilty, and beheaded ‘a little benethe the castell wall.’ This was on 2nd of May, 1584.

In the following year the exiled lords again collected their
adherents and advanced upon Stirling, proclaiming that they sought to save the King and the country from the evil rule of James Stewart, Earl of Arran. Little resistance was offered and the attacking force entered the town on the 2nd of November; Arran fled, and the King with Montrose and Crawford shut himself up in the Castle.
The place was strictly invested until on the evening of the 3rd a flag of truce was sent out. On receiving assurance that no disrespect was intended towards the King’s person and that the lives of those with him would be spared, formal surrender was made to the besiegers.
Differences were settled and the custody of the Castle was restored to the Earl of Mar.

Troubles within the country were succeeded by an alarm from the sea, for in August, 1588, orders were issued for preparations to be made to resist the Spanish Armada should it appear or attempt a landing on any part of the Scottish coast. The governors of various castles, including Stirling, were required ‘to caus baillis be brynt and watcheis kept at all placeis and occasionis requisite.’

This danger had passed, however, before the Castle of Stirling was chosen as the scene of another Royal birth and baptism. By means of a Parliamentary vote of a large sum of funds James VI was able to impress his visitors with the dignity and splendour of the Scottish court on the occasion of the baptism of his eldest son, Prince Frederick Henry, in the reconstructed Chapel Royal on 3oth August, 1594. The Bishop of Aberdeen officiated and the child was carried by the Earl of Sussex, Queen Elizabeth’s representative. Henry was the last Prince of Scotland to be brought up in Stirling and spent nine
years of his short life there under the guardianship of the Earl of Mar.

Union of the Crowns, 1603
With the establishment of James upon the English throne the glory of the Palace of Stirling departed. Distinguished persons still lodged within the fortress walls, but no longer by their own choice. In 1605, during the First Episcopacy, several Presbyterian ministers who had
attended the Assembly of Aberdeen in defiance of an order of the Privy Council, were taken to Stirling and confined there for one year. Another victim of the intolerance of the period was Huntly, the great Roman Catholic marquess, who was warded in the Castle for two years, from 1610, on account of his nonconformity.

James had promised his people that he would return to his native land every three years, but only once in the course of his English reign did he travel north of the border. Two brief visits were then paid to Stirling and during his last visit in July, 1617, James listened to a pedantic exhibition well suited to his tastes. For three hours a deputation from the University of Edinburgh discoursed in Greek and Latin and James expressed his approval by bestowing his patronage on the institution.

Visit of Charles I, 1633
In the following reign the hope of the northern subjects were again disappointed for Charles I did not visit Stirling for eight years after his accession. From time to time he had expressed a desire to see the palace arid in 1633 preparations were made for his arrival. Repairs to the buildings were carried out and the hunting-ground in
the vicinity was strictly preserved, but the efforts of the people were poorly rewarded as Charles spent only two nights at Stirling. In July, 1650, during the Commonwealth period, Charles ii also paid a brief visit.

General Monk besieges Stirling, August, 1651
Upon the arrival of General Monk in Scotland, in command
of Cromwell’s forces, the defences of Stirling were once more called upon to withstand a determined attack, Having raised earthen platforms for his guns, Monk kept up a steady fire on the Castle for three days, causing considerable damage. Colonel William Conyngham’s ordnance replied with equal spirit and traces of the
bombardment still remain. On the 14th of August, however, the Governor was forced to yield owing to a mutiny in the garrison. The spoils of the Castle which fell into the hands of the besiegers included in addition to the Earl of Mar’s possession, hangings from the Palace,
forty pieces of ordnance and twenty-six barrels of powder. Monk left Colonel Reade in charge and later proposed to Cromwell that the Castle should be garrisoned with thirteen companies of foot and a regiment of horse. When John Ray, a travelling naturalist, visited the Castle about 1662, he estimated the garrison at two hundred Englishmen.

After the Restoration, custody of the Castle reverted to the Earl of Mar and his heirs, but the privilege was withdrawn on the accession of George I who suspected the Earl’s Jacobite sympathies. Subsequently the keeping of the Castle was retained by the Crown and
entrusted in turn to distinguished soldiers. In 1846 the office of Keeper fell into abeyance but was restored by King George V in 1923 in favour of the Earl of Mar and Kellie, a lineal descendant of the original holder.

Jacobite Rebellion, 1715
In the rising of 1715 the old Castle played a part of some importance for, in spite of improved methods of attack, it was still a valuable military post which might be used to prevent the Highland Jacobites from joining their friends in the south. With a small force General Wightman took up his position in the Castle, where he was joined on
the I 7th of September by the Duke of Argyll, Commander-in-Chief of King George’s troops in Scotland. The insurgents proposed to cross the Forth by the upper fords, sending only a small detachment to Stirling to act as a decoy, but Argyll, hearing of his enemies’ intentions, determined to take the initiative. The town and Castle
were garrisoned by five hundred volunteers from Glasgow, who had been attached to Wightman’s regular troops and on the 12th of November Argyll marched out of Stirling to Sheriffmuir. The battle fought there the following day was indecisive but the Highlanders were prevented from crossing the Forth.

The Castle besieged by Prince Charles Edward, 1746
Thirty years later the Castle again withstood the advance of the Highlanders. Returning from the south, Prince Charles Edward took up residence in Bannockburn House on the 6th of January, 1746, while his soldiers camped in the vicinity. On the 8th the town of Stirling capitulated but the Castle garrison under General Blakeney prepared to resist to the last extremity. The Highianders’ siege was ill-conducted and their losses heavy. In the midst of the operations Charles withdrew some of his forces in order to check General Hawley who was advancing to the relief of the Castle. Charles was
successful at Falkirk, as Bruce had been at Bannockburn, but his victory did not have the same far-reaching results. His summons to surrender was disregarded by General Blakeney and by the end of the month the Highlanders were retreating northward before the Duke of Cumberland. Powder deposited in St Ninian’s was hastily
blown up, shattering the church.

Stirling had ceased to be the seat of Royalty and its history as a fortress virtually ended with the ‘Forty-five.’ Kings and Queens have visited it but it is no longer the official residence of the Court. The buildings are still occupied, but for two centuries have been immune from attack. In its dual capacity, however, Stirling claims a special place in Scottish history, surpassing even the
Castle of Edinburgh. For centuries Edinburgh was both a Royal residence and a stronghold but the Palace of Holyroodhouse usurped the former function long before the Palace of Stirling was finally vacated.

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