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Stirling

The town is best known for its castle, perched high on a rocky crag above the town and every bit as impressive as Edinburgh's. Also the Wallace Monument, a huge monolith high on Abbey Craig to the northeast of town which commemorates William Wallace, portrayed by Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart.

Being so close to both Edinburgh and Glasgow, the sights of Stirling can be visited in a day from either city, but it's also a very pleasant place to stay. It may lack the cosmopolitan feel of Edinburgh but has a lively buzz of its own during the busy summer months and there is a wide range of accommodation and other tourist facilities.

Phone code: +44 (0)1786 Population: 37,000

History

It was once said that whoever controlled Stirling held the key to Scotland. Consequently the town and its surrounds have witnessed many crucial struggles between the Scots and the English. In fact, its name is a derivation of 'The Striveling', meaning place of strife. It was here that the Scots under William Wallacedefeated the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. A more famous battle was fought just a few miles away, at Bannockburn in 1314, when Robert the Bruce's small army routed Edward II's much larger English force. For the next three centuries, until the Union of Crowns in 1603 and James VI's move to England, Stirling Castle was the favourite residence of the Stuart monarchy and the setting for the coronation, in 1543, of the young Mary, the future Queen of Scots.

As you'd expect with such a strategically important town, Stirling has a long and fascinating history and is packed with major historical sights.

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