A monument to Wallace
When we first started out we wanted our Stirling Gin bottle to celebrate the home of our spirit and the city of Stirling has a plethora of landmarks to choose from. While Stirling Castle may be the obvious choice, we always felt a pull towards the statuesque form of the Wallace Monument. We commissioned Edinburgh-based artist Ritchie Collins to create an illustration of the monument to grace our label. In addition to this the history of the site plays a part in our distillery tours.
The Story of The Wallace Monument
After a design competition between 106 architects the contract for the Wallace Monument was won by John Thomas Rochead. Construction was completed in 1869 for £18,000. This may not seem like much but in today’s economy it would come in at around 1.2 million pounds. Unusually, this money came from a massive fundraising campaign. This included finance from Scottish expatriates, as well as several world leaders. The original location was set to be somewhere in Glasgow city. Finally, after an outcry from Edinburgh, it was decided that the monument should live in an area rich in William Wallace’s past.
As Wallace is perhaps the most well-known export from Scotland, people travel from all over the world to get a glimpse into his history. Subsequently the monument is one of the most visited spots in Scotland. Its location on Abbey Craig was chosen due to its outlook over Cambuskenneth Abbey. The Abbey is where Wallace watched the gathering of King Edward I’s troops in the hours before the Battle of Stirling Bridge.
Visitors climb 246 steps to reach the top of the tower rewarded with a clear line of sight over Stirling Bridge. As well as glimpses of the site of the Battle of Bannockburn and sweeping views, you can see north towards the Trossachs. It is estimated that since its opening over 4.3 billion steps have been taken by tourists and locals alike. The monument contains a number of artifacts believed to have belonged to Wallace, including the famous Wallace sword. This sword has been stolen and recovered on two separate occasions. There is also a time capsule buried under the foundation stone. The capsule contains the entire works of Scottish bard Robert Burns and “Wallace and His Times” by James Paterson.
2019 is the monument’s 150th anniversary and after some essential maintenance the tower will reopen in May with an improved visitor’s centre and shop. There are a wide variety of celebratory events and exhibits planned throughout the second half of this year at the monument and we at Stirling Distillery will definitely be throwing our own party. Keep an eye on our social media accounts and event page on the website for more details.