This 2.3 km circular walk (some uphill) starts and finishes at Stirling castle. The castle dominates Stirling and can be seen (and of course see) for many miles away in all directions. It is one of the most important castles in Scotland and has had multiple links to the European continent throughout its history. There is a fee to enter as it is managed by Historic Scotland who have even written a blog post outlining all the European links of the castle.
Almost all the present buildings in the castle were constructed between 1490 and 1600, when Stirling was developed as a principal royal centre by the Stewart kings James IV, James V and James VI. The architecture of these new buildings shows an eclectic mix of English, French and German influences, reflecting the international ambitions of the Stewart dynasty.
You can’t mention Stirling castle without mentioning Mary Queen of Scots who embodies the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France. Her mother Mary of Guise came to Scotland in1538 to be married. She then lost both of her sons by James V and, of course, the king himself. Only the little queen survived but she was sent to live in France.
At the age of 5, she was betrothed to the Dauphin of France and spent the remainder of her childhood at the French court, the marriage taking place in 1558 when she reached the age of 16. Her husband acceded to the throne of France as Francis II the following year and Mary became queen consort of France until her husband’s early death in 1560.
Giovanni Damiano de Falcucci was an Italian at the court of James the IV who famously tried (and failed!) to fly to France in a winged contraption made of hen feathers from the castle with some question over whether he stole the idea from Leonardo da Vinci!
We could talk about and explore the castle and its European links all day (see link to historic Scotland Blog on this above), but this walk now takes you down the hill a little to find more European links.
Picture credits: Historic Scotland, Stirling4Europe 2021