How to make the most out of your visit to one of Stirling’s most iconic landmarks, the Wallace Monument…
The Wallace Monument is one of the most iconic landmarks in Stirling.
It peeps out of the skyline wherever you go, adding a sprinkle of magic to the setting and reminding you just how much history has gone down here in Stirling, Scotland. And when you climb its steep spiral staircase and emerge at the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of some of the settings for some of Scotland’s most important moments.
Here’s my guide to the iconic William Wallace memorial, the Wallace Monument!
The National Wallace Monument: my first sight
I remember the very first time I came to Stirling, only a few months ago. We were walking along the street nearby the house I now live in near the top of the town area in the city. I looked up and the Wallace Monument was just there, poking out of the hillside like some sort of talisman. It looked stunning. Now, I love catching sight of it in different areas in the city.
Sometimes you’ll just be walking along and it’ll just pop up out of nowhere, in between tree branches in my garden or in a gap between the buildings in the town. It’s also lit up in bright jewel tones in the evenings so that you’re always aware it’s there, even after dark.
How old is the Wallace Monument in Scotland?
The monument was opened in 1869 to pay tribute to William Wallace. Apparently, it played into the Victorian trend of building public statues and monuments to honour historical figures – just think of the Scott Monument in Edinburgh. That’s another supersized tribute.
Is there a William Wallace statue in Stirling?
No. There is a William Wallace statue but it’s located in Melrose in the Scottish Borders.
There used to be a statue of William Wallace at the entrance to the Wallace Monument, which portrayed him in the guise of Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. However, the statue has since moved. As the sculptor who designed it is originally from Brechin, it’s been relocated at Brechin Football Club.
There is a small bronze sculpture of William Wallace on the side of the monument.
Is the story of Braveheart a true story?
I think most people know that there are many elements of Braveheart that aren’t true. It’s a Hollywood version of the story, so if you want great storytelling then it has it in spades. However, there are omissions, outright lies, and factual inaccuracies. There’s also the fact that the Battle of Stirling Bridge in the film doesn’t even include the bridge!
With all that said, I love Braveheart. I’ve seen it hundreds of times and some of the scenes can pretty much make me cry on demand. As soon as those pan pipes start playing, I’m sold!
If you’re into films about this time period I would definitely recommend Outlaw King on Netflix. It focused more on Robert the Bruce than William Wallace and it’s great.
William Wallace facts
There isn’t actually that much known about William Wallace. He is believed to have been born in 1270 near Paisley in Refrew and was the son of a minor landowner.
When Edward 1 declared himself overlord of Scotland this provoked a number of resistances within Scotland. This came to the fore at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. William Wallace and Scottish noble Andrew de Moray lured English troops across the narrow Stirling Bridge.
They then trapped them within the bend in the river and ruthlessly slaughtered them, blocking off the bridge so they were unable to retreat.
The Battle of Stirling Bridge was William Wallace’s biggest victory. His most famous defeat was at the Battle of Falkirk. Wallace has been knighted in 1297 and he’d taken on the role of Guardian of Scotland.
However, after he lost to Edward 1 at Falkirk he gave up this guardianship of Scotland and went on the run. There wasn’t much heard from him for years.
That was until his capture in 1305. He was arrested near Glasgow and taken to London where he was hung, drawn and quartered on charges of treason. His body was then torn apart and put out on display in various cities around the UK, including Stirling.
However, his death was not in vain. Wallace’s legacy was cemented when the Scots won their freedom at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, led by Robert the Bruce.
The National Wallace Monument, Stirling
How much does it cost to get into the Wallace Monument?
There are a variety of ticket prices for the monument, which you can see below.
There are also a variety of group family tickets that you can view on the website.
Can you get into the Wallace Monument for free?
Yes. Just like Stirling Castle, there is a residents offer which means that people in the local area can access the monument for free. All you have to do is show proof of address.
Should you pre-book Wallace Monument tickets?
If you want to be on the safe side, I would definitely pre-book your tickets.
I went on the website to check out tickets and they’re very clear that pre-booking is preferred. This seems to be the same for other attractions right now, such as Stirling Castle.
However, it’s really straightforward to do. As far as I can remember there are three slots every hour, one on the hour, one at twenty past, and one at twenty to the hour. There are ten slots per hour, meaning it (hopefully) won’t ever be too crowded on the stairs!
And with that said, there were walk-ins when we were there who got in OK.
Wallace Monument address and contact number
Abbey Craig, Hillfoots Road, Causewayhead, Stirling, FK9 5LF
Wallace Monument opening times
The opening times to the monument vary throughout the year, as you can see below…
|January and February||10am-4pm|
|April to June||9.30am-5pm|
|July and August||9.30am-6pm|
|September and October||9.30am-5pm|
|November and December||10am-4pm|
Can you walk up the Wallace Monument at night?
No. Unfortunately, there is no availability to go up the monument in the evening. It does look really stunning after dark though. It lights up in different colours so whenever you’re walking along the street in the gloom it’ll catch your eye, like a jewel.
Directions to the monument
By car or bus
The Wallace Monument is located about a ten-minute drive from the city centre. If you want to use public transport you can catch the number 52 from outside the train station. The service runs every half hour and stops outside the monument.
It takes about 45 minutes to walk to the monument from the city centre. It’s a main road but you will get to go over the cobbled Stirling Bridge on the way if you fancy it.
When you get there
Wallace Monument parking
There’s a car park with ample parking at the monument. There are two car parks, one just as you turn in and one slightly further up. We chanced our luck and kept going to get a space slightly closer in. I should also mention the most important part – the parking is free!
Wallace Monument shuttle bus
When we got out of the car we clocked the shuttle bus but for some reason I didn’t twig why it was there. Well. It’s there because there’s a bit of a walk from the car park and café to the Wallace Monument itself. You can either jump on the bus or walk up the hill.
The bus leaves every 15 minutes and takes you all the way to the door, taking three minutes in total and dodging you out of climbing the rather steep path to the monument.
We walked. It was fine, but it did mean I was out of puff before we even got to the monument – and we were racing so that we didn’t miss our time slot!
It says on the website that the walk takes around 25 minutes. For me, the walk took about 10 minutes but we were walking quickly. Factor the time in either way.
Wallace Monument steps
Of course, the most important question is how many steps will you have to climb up? I can answer that question and the answer is 246 steps. I didn’t find it too bad – luckily you will get a chance to catch your breath at every floor you stop on. The first floor even had some seats (to watch a video from) which I was more than happy to flop down on.
The only bad news is that folk coming down the steps have right of way. That means if you meet someone on the stairs you’ll have to go back to the floor below to let them up.
It only happened to us once but goodness knows what it’s like when it’s busy!
Inside the Wallace Monument
The Hall of Arms (first floor)
This is the first floor you’ll reach after the first round of steps. It’s also where the real-life sword of William Wallace is displayed in a glass cabinet – all 1.68 metres of it!
As someone who has seen Braveheart hundreds of times (literally hundreds of times) I was super excited to see William Wallace’s actual sword up close. The thing I was most astounded by about the sword is the sheer size of it. It really is huge!
There’s also a great short animated film to watch that talks through the legend of William Wallace and how that played out in Stirling. The animation and storytelling is top-notch.
Also, make sure you don’t miss out seeing the stunning stained glass windows.
The Hall of Heroes (second floor)
Up the next flight of stairs is the Hall of Heroes, where you’ll find an array of elegant marble busts mounted on the wall. But who are these people and why are they here?
Well, there are 16 busts in total and they’ve all played a part in shaping Scotland’s history. There’s Sir Walter Scott, author of Rob Roy, Rabbie Burns, Adam Scott, the economist who also happened to be born in my home town of Kirkcaldy, as well as others.
If you’re anything like me, however, you’ll quickly twig the high proportion of men. I’m not gonna lie, I clocked this immediately. But if you walk around the room you may be pleasantly surprised to see a couple of women, Mary Slessor and Mary Somerville.
They were chosen was part of a vote to bring more female figures into the space. I really love the fact that they recognised it and wanted to rectify it within the display here.
The Royal Chamber (third floor)
As well as weaponry and the serious historical side, there was also some fun interactive stuff on this floor which I enjoyed. Namely, the design your own shield part!
You picked various icons on the screen to build up your own shield. There was an educational aspect to it, too. It instructed you what colours would go with what – colour couldn’t go on colour, for example, it had to be paired with a metallic shade. You could then pair your symbols. Naturally, I chose a dog to honour my little golden lab pup, Casper!
The best part is your design is projected onto the real-life shield in the corner and you can strike a pose next to it alongside a giant sword. A nice one for the kids, or anyone really!
Top floor (viewing platform)
We happened to visit the monument the day after Storm Arwen had hit in the UK, and it was still really windy outside. Very much hold onto your hats kind of weather!
Despite the fact that it was absolutely freezing on the top of the monument, the views were amazing. You have a complete 360 degree of the surrounding countryside, Stirling Castle, and the winding shape of the Forth River, where so much history took place.
Best views of the Wallace Monument
As I said earlier, I love the fact that the monument is a kind of talisman in the city. It just appears on the skyline and gives you your bearings wherever you happen to be, like true north. Here are my favourite locations for some views of the Wallace Monument…
If you visit the castle you will get some great elevated views of the monument. Walk along the Grand Battery or head down past the North Gate to the Nether Bailey for more.
Read my guide to visiting Stirling Castle here.
I discovered these views when I was out running in Stirling. Turn left just before you cross Stirling Bridge and there’s a pathway that takes you along by the river. It’s really peaceful and quiet around here – the perfect spot to walk a dog or go running.
This is a lovely walk along by the river. I photographed it one morning when I was out running and it looked beautiful with the glass-like water in front of it.
If you’re feeling energetic then climbing up Dumyat, one of the Ochil Hills, will give you some lovely views of the monument. It’s 418 metres high and some people describe it as a ‘brisk walk’ but I’m not sure I’d agree. It’s about an hour up and down.
Top of the Town
This photo is the very first picture I took in Stirling, before I even moved here. We’d gone for a wander after viewing my house and I was so excited to see the monument on the skyline. The elevated position of this part of town means you get some great views.
The Beheading Stone
This is a famous landmark in Stirling. Set at the top of Gowan Hill, it’s believed to be where prisoners were brutally beheaded back in the 15th century. Despite the grisly history, it’s a great spot to enjoy views of the Wallace National monument – and the castle!