Kings and Kin in Stirling, Scotland

View from Bowling Green Garden, Stirling Castle

View from Bowling Green Garden, Stirling Castle

Stirling, Scotland 

Stirling Castle is an impressive place, even for someone like me who is not really a castle or chateau person. I’d rather explore the surrounding countryside or a nearby city. But I wanted to see this castle with Clive, since it’s not only an important part of Scotland’s history, it’s also located in the home of Clive’s ancestors.

The castle is as fortress-like, cold, and gray as any other military castle I can think of, as opposed to castles built as grand family residences. From the road below there’s a spectacular view to the top of the rock upon which the castle sits, and inside the grounds we felt like we were walking through a small town. My favourite parts were the excellent audio-visual display of Scottish history and the Bowling Green Garden outside the Royal Palace. The garden is a small oasis of greenery and serenity amongst the larger-than-life structures around the rest of the property.

 

The Words around the History

Australia and the U.S. are such young countries, and have had such relatively quiet histories compared to the rest of the world. Australia had a peaceful transition to becoming an independent country, and in the U.S., the pre-World War history we learned at school centered primarily on the Revolutionary War of Independence and the internal Civil War.

Most wars are violent and bloody, but I’m struck over and over here by the words used to describe Scotland’s history:

massacre

beheaded

executed

hanged

quartered

slaughter

battles

tragic

heroes

There were so many kings and queens, so many battles and wars, and so many of those against England. The image of kings riding out with their troops, leading them into battle, and often dying with them is very powerful when visiting here in person. Maybe the words hit harder because of their stark contrast to the natural beauty of the scenery and views surrounding the castle.

I sense a feeling in Scotland, even more than in other parts of Europe, that the past is still very much a part of the present, especially when it comes to pride in past glories and the ongoing issues of independence and the desire to retain their unique culture and identity.

 

Where the Rellies Lived

Clive knew his maternal grandparents came from here, and we had two street addresses where we knew certain family members lived. I think I was as thrilled as Clive when we realised that where his great-grandparents lived, Upper Bridge Street in Stirling Old Town, is only one or two streets away from the castle. Twenty years ago, Clive met someone in Australia whose mother came from Stirling, and she remembered going to Clive’s great-grandmother’s shop on Upper Bridge Street when she was a girl.

We also walked to Bruce Street, where another relative lived. The architecture on both roads was similar to that of the castle, except the homes were built for regular people instead of royalty. The buildings may be smaller but they too were made of unadorned granite and look like they will proudly stand forever. If it weren’t for the modern cars parked outside and various TV antennae and satellite dishes sticking out above the footpath, we would have sworn nothing had changed in hundreds of years.

  

Clive Walking on Bruce Street, Stirling

Clive Walking on Bruce Street, Stirling

One Response

  1. […] long and often bloody history also impressed me on our first visit to Scotland, when I wrote about Kings and Kin in Stirling, and oft-seen words such as ‘massacre’, ‘slaughter’, ‘battles’ and ‘tragic’ on […]

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