Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Wallace Monument

The Wallace Monument, immensely impressive on its wooded summit, is one of Scotland's best known landmarks and a national icon. Those who paid for admission at the visitor centre can ascend the tower via a spiral staircase, and see Wallace's enormous broadsword and the superb views from the top.

The Wallace Monument is situated on the top of Abbey Craig, overlooking the river Forth and the Forth Valley. As we approached the mist was still hanging around the top of Abbey Craig.  Only Stirling Castle, a few miles away across the river Forth, makes a bigger impression on the area. Abbey Craig at one time was the site of a hill fort and in 1297 William Wallace camped there before defeating the English attempting to cross the Forth at the Battle of Stirling Bridge.

The monument is 220 feet high, 54 square feet at its base, with the tower 36 square feet. The walls are 16/18 feet at their thickest, tapering to 5 feet thick at their thinnest. It is estimated that there were in excess of 30,000 tons of stones used in the construction.

The idea for a monument to one of Scotland's National Heroes began in the 1830s on a world-wide tide of Scottish nationalism.  Sir Walter Scott was fanning these flames - he had rediscovered the "Honours of Scotland" (crown, sword and sceptre) in Edinburgh Castle in 1818, 111 years after they had been locked away after the Union of the Parliaments in 1707.   And of course his novels had led to a re-awakening of an interest in Scotland's history.

A group of prominent Scots formed a National Monument Committee in the 1830s. However, in typical committee fashion, it took until the 1850s before serious steps were taken to build a monument. Initially the preferred site was Glasgow Green. However, on the instigation of the Rev Dr Charles Rogers, the chaplain at Stirling Castle, the site at Abbey Craig was selected. Since 1709 the land had been owned by the Patrons of Cowanes Hospital, a charity established in 1637. Cambuskenneth Abbey (founded around 1147 by King David I) sits at the foot of Abbey Craig.

A public subscription was launched and a design competition was organised. The winner was an Edinburgh architect, J T Rochead. When the foundation stone was laid in 1863, a crowd of 70,000 were present. But disputes amongst the National Monument Committee members and financial problems resulted in construction not being completed until 1869.

The design of the monument is in the Scottish "Baronial" style and represented a Scottish Medieval tower, rising from a courtyard, with a representation on the top of the Crown Royal of Scotland. 

One of the coaches visiting the monument when we called here.


  1. What a fabulous piece of history!

  2. Impressive! Can people get right up to the top? As I am not so familiar with measures in feet, I have not really worked out how high the tower would feel when one climbs it and looks down.

    1. I've never been up to the top Meike but I believe you can go right up there.

  3. Very interesting and makes me want to take some time to read more classical literature. Americans are doomed to repeat was Europe has long ago discovered. Baronial style? I was just going to ask!

  4. What an impressive looking structure! Somehow i think Wallace would have liked it.

  5. The detail on the monument must have taken some time to complete...captivating piece of architecture.


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