- Gregor Stewart
15th May 2019
Stirling may be one of the smallest cities in Scotland, but in terms of historical significance it is one of the most important. Originally a small settlement around the lowest crossing point for the River Forth, the nearby rocky outcrop offered an ideal position to construct a fort to defend the crossing. Stirling Castle is first documented around 1100 and by c. 1120 Stirling was granted a royal charter, creating the town. In the following centuries, due to its strategic position, Stirling was at the centre of many battles, leading to it being said ‘He who holds Stirling, holds Scotland.’ Major figures in Scottish history are associated with Stirling, including William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, Mary, Queen of Scots, King James IV and Bonnie Prince Charlie. Now a centre of tourism, many of these famous characters are significant in the city’s lesser-known past. King James IV is reported to have had a keen interest in alchemy with a hidden workshop at Stirling Castle. It was here that the Italian alchemist John Damian in the early 1500s attempted the first recorded attempted flight in Scotland, with wings made from feathers. He leapt from the battlements of Stirling Castle and broke his thigh in the fall. Secret Stirling is fully illustrated throughout and will appeal to all those with an interest in this ancient city.