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Stirling, town wall & bastion & Port Street Bastion at 44 Bastion Wynd

A Scheduled Monument in Stirling North, Stirling

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Latitude: 56.1182 / 56°7'5"N

Longitude: -3.9404 / 3°56'25"W

OS Eastings: 279454

OS Northings: 693412

OS Grid: NS794934

Mapcode National: GBR 1C.LGQQ

Mapcode Global: WH4P6.FHV2

Entry Name: Stirling, town wall & bastion & Port Street Bastion at 44 Bastion Wynd

Scheduled Date: 11 October 1952

Last Amended: 2 September 2011

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1754

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: bastion

Location: Stirling

County: Stirling

Electoral Ward: Stirling North

Traditional County: Stirlingshire


The monument comprises five separate sections of the 16th-century defences of the town of Stirling. Four of the five sections comprise the surviving parts of the town wall bordering the public path known as Back Walk, and include a bastion; the fifth element comprises the remains of a second bastion, which now lies within 'The Thistles' shopping centre. The monument was first scheduled in 1952, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: this rescheduling rectifies this.

The monument is constructed mainly of random rubble and in places is founded on substantial rock outcrops that cause significant changes in height along the course of the town wall. Stirling's town wall formerly protected the south-western and south-eastern approaches to the medieval burgh. The surviving remains of the wall represent a combination of the original 16th-century structure, with repairs dating to between the 17th and 19th centuries. Along its length, the wall stands between about 4.8m and 7m in height and is about 1.8m thick. The monument includes two bastions, both of which are also rubble-built. The first bastion stands on Back Walk. Circular on plan, this bastion projects to the south of the town wall and stands around 7m high. The bastion's outward face is pierced by three crudely formed rectangular gun loops. The structure appears to have undergone alterations for reuse as a dovecot, with the brick-lined interior and existing floor levels probably reflecting its conversion to a dovecote. The second bastion, often known as the Port Street bastion, now stands enclosed within the modern 'Thistles' shopping centre and is located in a subterranean service delivery area. It also stands to about 7m in height. The internal chamber has undergone substantial refurbishment and is now an interpretation area for visitors. Although altered, the bastion retains much of its original fabric and features, including two gun loops and a 'thieves pot' or prison chamber, accessed through an opening in the floor of the chamber.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. All upstanding elements of the wall are scheduled, as well as the areas of rock outcrop that underlie and support the wall. In addition a 1m strip of ground extending from the base of the wall on either side is also scheduled, except on the north-east side of the wall at 14-16 Dumbarton Road where the land is not scheduled because of the proximity of an electricity substation. Where roofed buildings adjoin the town wall, such as at Nos 2, 4 and 6 Back Walk, the scheduling includes the stone fabric of the town wall, but specifically excludes the other upstanding parts of the adjoining buildings to allow for their maintenance. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of all street lights and street furniture, the Erskine Church doorway and the upper 300m of all paths and hard standings along Back Walk to allow for their maintenance. All modern doorways and stairs, as well as all modern fixtures and fittings attached to the wall or to the Port Street bastion, are specifically excluded to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument represents a significant element in our understanding of the late medieval burgh of Stirling, its extent and the strategic importance it held, first as a seat of royal government, and latterly as one of Scotland's most important garrison towns. Like many of the town defences built at times of crisis, the wall's random rubble fabric may reflect its rapid construction in 1547, when the town represented an important target for English raiders. Various alterations and repairs over the next two centuries, principally at times of crisis, highlight the town's continued significance and the importance attached to maintaining the town's wall. Unusually, Stirling's town wall was never a continuous circuit, being designed to fortify the easier southern and western approaches to the town. On the north and west, the cliffs, river, backland walls and rows of tenement buildings appear to have provided sufficient obstacle.

Much of the surviving town wall stands to a considerable height and, although its fabric is a mixture of original work with later additions, repairs and restoration, it is likely that the lower courses and foundations date to the original 16th-century construction. Importantly, the surviving remains follow the same course as the 1547 town wall. Given Stirling's strong connections with Scotland's rulers, as well as its importance as a royal burgh, the 16th-century town wall may also overlie remains of earlier defensive works or evidence of earlier occupation.

One of the most significant aspects of Stirling's town wall is its two bastions. Only four examples of town wall bastions survive in Scotland, the others being a single surviving bastion of the 16th-century Flodden Wall in Edinburgh and a 16th-century round bastion forming part of the Peebles town wall. Although the Stirling bastions both show evidence of later adaptation, they still contain a high degree of their original fabric and character. The bastion on Back Walk, to the rear of 29 Spittal Street, originally served as a gunpowder store and was later converted to a dovecot, probably in the 17th or 18th centuries, as evidenced by the distinctive beehive-shaped roof and rat-courses/alighting ledges. The Port Street bastion, now standing within 'The Thistles' shopping centre, may have been used as a place for holding common criminals and was later incorporated within the fabric of a woollen mill.

As a whole, the monument presents an excellent opportunity to study the construction, development and subsequent re-use and adaptation of late medieval municipal defences in Scotland. Artefactual and other evidence from the site can enhance our understanding of its construction, use, maintenance and abandonment. Additionally, the monument offers us the potential to understand daily life in the late medieval burgh of Stirling. Through comparison with similar sites in Scotland and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, we can begin to identify regional trends and traditions.

Contextual characteristics

The town wall dates to the mid 16th century when Scotland came under increased pressure from England's Henry VIII for a marriage alliance between his heir, Edward, Prince of Wales, and Mary, Queen of Scots, known as the 'Rough Wooing'. Documentary evidence shows that funds for the town wall came not only from the burgh council, but also the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise, and several wealthy individuals resident in the town. Documentary records show that Stirling is one of only eleven of Scotland's medieval burghs known to have possessed stone-built town walls.

Many Scottish medieval towns probably possessed some form of defence, although this might often have comprised little more than an earthwork rampart and ditch, a timber palisade, or a combination of these, together with property boundaries. Stone walls were built by a small number of burgh councils, usually in the troubled 16th century when Scotland endured lengthy periods of unrest and uncertainty caused by the minorities of King James V, Mary Queen of Scots and King James VI. Visible remains of town walls in Scotland survive only at Peebles, Edinburgh, Haddington, Montrose and Inverkeithing.

Documentary records show that the town walls underwent renewal and expansion at various times of crisis, notably 1574, 1650, 1715 and 1745. In particular, the Port Street bastion belongs to the 1574 expansion of the town wall.

Associative characteristics

Stirling's town wall is directly associated with the short but intense period of hostilities with England known as the 'Rough Wooing'. Following the death of King James V in 1542, Henry VIII actively sought to forge an Anglo-Scottish alliance through a marriage between his heir, Edward, Prince of Wales, and Mary, Queen of Scots, agreed in principle by the 1543 Treaties of Greenwich. When the Scottish Parliament rejected the treaty, open war broke out between pro-French and pro-English factions. Henry launched a series of catastrophic raids across southern Scotland. Although causing widespread damage, Henry's aggressive policy ultimately failed. Not only did it unite the Scots factions, but it led to the Scots accepting a marriage alliance with France, by which Mary Queen of Scots became betrothed to the Dauphin Francis, and was ultimately sent to safety at the French court of King Henri II.

The town wall is associated with significant social military events in the 17th and 18th centuries. Repairs in 1650 were prompted by the Cromwellian invasion of Scotland, when General Monck's parliamentary army crushed Scottish forces under King Charles II at the Battle of Dunbar. Similar urgent repairs took place during the Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745-46. During inquiries into the 1745-46 uprising, Stirling's town council faced accusations of allowing the burgh to be captured by the Jacobites. The town council responded by stating that it was well known that Stirling's town walls protected the south and west approaches, while the north and east sides enjoyed the limited protection of garden walls and property boundaries.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular the construction, design and use of Scottish medieval burgh defences. Stirling is one of only 11 Scottish medieval burghs known to have been protected by walls, and of those only four others retain any visible remains. Town wall bastions are especially rare survivals, with only four surviving in Scotland, and two of them are an important part of this monument. The wall is directly associated with defining episodes in both Scottish and British history. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the construction and development of Scottish medieval burgh defences in general, as well as the specific relationships between the wall, the historic medieval burgh of Stirling and Stirling Castle.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as NS79SE 35.00.


Cant R G and Lindsay I G, 1948, Old Stirling, Edinburgh.

Donnachie I and Hewitt G, 2001, Dictionary of Scottish History, HarperCollins, Glasgow.

Gifford J and Walker Frank, 2002, Stirling and Central Scotland, 687 & 729, Yale University Press, London.

RCAHMS, 1963, Stirlingshire: an inventory of the ancient monuments, HMSO, vol 2, No. 249, p 304-6.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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