Sunday, February 21, 2010

Abbey Craig Fort, Stirling

Abbey Craig Fort
The Wallace Monument

The impressive Wallace Monument, erected in memory of Scottish legend and hero William Wallace, towers above the surrounding countryside. The 220 foot tower, built between 1862 and 1869, is sited on the foundations of an Iron Age hill fort, of which only a fraction survives.

Above. A view of the monument from the South West.

The fort was built at the North end of Abbey Craig, a spur of high land that juts from the floor of the valley, and is thought to have been occupied between 500 and 780AD.

Above. View of the monument from the South West.

Above. A view of the surviving bank (right of the photo)

The sole surviving relic of this fort, is the crescent shaped bank that runs around the West and East sides of the summit of Abbey Craig. The bank, shown above and below, is about 260 feet in length, and stands to around five feet in height. It is made up of what is thought to be the rubble core of a substantial wall, that would have had a wooden palisade running its full length.

Above. Internal view of the surviving bank....all that remains of the fort.

The interior of the fort would have covered an area measuring roughly 175 by 125 feet. A second rampart can still be seen some forty feet to the East of the surviving bank, further down the hill. This second rampart stands to around four feet high, and is still nearly four feet wide.

Above. View from the summit of the Wallace Monument, looking South West towards Cambuskenneth.

The remains at the summit of Abbey Craig, which were no doubt more plentiful before the Wallace Monument was built, were said by local historians, to have been erected by Cromwell 's forces when he laid siege to Stirling Castle. It's only fairly recently that the idea of the hilltop as an Iron Age hill fort over a Cromwellian siege castle have been agreed upon. It is also said that Abbey Craig was the spot from which William Wallace commanded his forces, as they defeated the advancing English as they attempted to cross Stirling Bridge in September 1297.

Above. William Wallace looking out from high up on the wall of the monument.

The monument offers fantastic view out across Stirling and the surrounding countryside. Although it's hard work getting to the summit, the crown, and you may have to struggle through the many people making their way is well worth the work getting there.

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