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Find current news, events and up to the minute happenings around the city on the updated Stirling News pages.

Stirling News in 2011

Current Stirling news and up to the minute happenings in the city of Stirling.
January February March April May June July August September October November December


Bella Hardy at Stirling Tolbooth

With her album sitting at number 2 in Mojo's top folk albums of 2011, Bella brings her very seasonal tour to the Tolbooth on Tuesday 13 December at 8pm. At just 25 years old, traditional singer and fiddle player Bella Hardy is already a firm favourite on the folk circuit, renowned for her rich and true voice. This winter she brings her new festive tour, Bright Morning Star, to the Tolbooth, with special guests Anna Massie on guitar and Chris Sherburn on concertina.

The original date for Bella Hardy's performance at the Tolbooth had to be rescheduled because of the severe weather warning on Thu 8 Dec. Tickets £12/£10 all existing tickets will be valid at this new date.

In Bella's north Derbyshire hometown, Christmas songs have long been the local speciality. People flock from far and wide to sing the Peak District's local carols, and in these dark months the villages are lit up with song to celebrate hope and community. Bright Morning Star takes the festive cheer on the road, showcasing a repertoire of seasonal treats from Bella’s local Castleton carols 'Down In Yon Forest' and 'All in the Morning', to well known classics 'O, Come All Ye Faithfull' and 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'.

Bella’s fascination with traditional music was fuelled by a love for literature and storytelling, which led her to delve into old books of folk songs and their mysterious collections of love and murder ballads. In 2008, she performed solo in the middle of a packed Royal Albert Hall as part of the first ever Folk Prom, which was broadcast on BBC4 and Radio 3. By 2010 she’d made it onto BBC1, performing her own arrangement of Psalm 23 on no lesser an institution than Songs of Praise. Bella was nominated three times in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and as a teenager she reached the finals of the BBC Young Folk Awards.

SEE Whats On at Stirling Tolbooth and find out the amazing artists who are heading to the Tolbooth such as Gallagher and Lyle who will be there in March 2012.

Future development for Bridge of Allan and Causewayhead

Stirling Councillors from all political parties will be discussing future development proposals for Bridge of Allan and Causewayhead on Tuesday 13 December at Wallace High School.

Local residents are being given the opportunity to comment on the Draft Proposed Local Development Plan, at a ‘Community Discussion Session,’ which will be held from 7pm to 9pm in the local high school.

Before this, on Saturday 10 December between 10am and 4pm in Wallace High School, there is a drop-in session at which local people will be able to find out more about what the Draft Plan proposes for their community. Planning Officers will be on hand to explain the development proposals and answer any queries.

The Local Development Plan will be a blueprint for the development of the Stirling Council area over the next twenty-five years and Bridge of Allan and Causewayhead have been identified as areas for potential development. Stirling Council is currently consulting with communities across the area to give local people a further opportunity to comment on the Draft Local Development Plan.

Stirling Council’s Portfolio Holder with responsibility for Environment and Sustainability Councillor Jim Thomson said: “The Council are keen to find out what local people think of proposed development, and to take account of their views in the preparation of the new Local Development Plan. This Plan will shape our communities over the next two decades, and it is important that all in the local community are able to have their say on the development proposals”.

Comments on the Draft Local Development Plan should be made in writing, or by email to For more information please visit

Comments received on the Draft Local Development Plan will be reported to the Council in the early new year, and a Proposed Plan will then be prepared and published. There will be further opportunity at that point to comment on the Proposed Plan, which will go forward to the Scot

From the Stirling Council website

Stirling Hogmanay 2011

Stirling is ready to welcome in the new year with a great line-up of Scotland’s most talented performers and musicians. Set against the stunning backdrop of Stirling Castle we have all the ingredients in place for a fantastic night with an exciting mix of traditional and contemporary Scottish music.

Making a welcome return to Stirling’s Hogmanay Party at the Castle this year is Scotland’s own Eddi Reader. Eddi, who wowed Stirling Hogmanay audiences in 2005, will join the great line-up of acts this year including The Red Hot Chilli Pipers and the Heart of Scotland Choir.

Eddi began her musical career as a session singer working with the Eurythmics and Alison Moyet. She came to prominence in the 1980s with the band Fairground Attraction who were awarded Best Single for their number one hit Perfect and Best Album at the 1989 Brit Awards. In the years since then Eddi has established herself as one of Scotland’s finest singers and performers with 9 critically acclaimed solo albums and 3 collections of Robert Burns’ songs.

Also headlining this year are the Red Hot Chilli Pipers - formed in 2002, the Chilli’s have gone from strength to strength, culminating in their winning of TV talent show ‘When will I be famous’ in 2007. Since then they have been jetting around the world, playing in numerous countries for huge crowds.

Tickets can be bought from the Tolbooth or Albert Halls, or online at

From the Stirling Council website

Excavations at historic Borestone site at Bannockburn

Archaeologists are continuing preliminary investigations at the site of the new visitor centre for the Battle of Bannockburn. Following earlier excavations in October, the team are digging for the position of the Borestone where Robert the Bruce raised his banner before the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 where the Rotunda now stands. The Rotunda, built in 1964 to mark the 650th anniversary of the battle, is badly in need of repair and structural engineers are assessing the work required. As part of the project a full Conservation Plan was completed for the rotunda by the conservation architect Andrew Wright.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said: "The work to create a new visitor centre at the site of the Battle of Bannockburn is continuing well with this second round of archaeology ensuring that nothing of importance is lost during the building work. We may still be some way off the opening in time for the 700th anniversary in 2014 but it is vital that we push ahead with this work to preserve any remaining archaeology and use these findings to add to our understanding and reflect it in the state of the art interpretation that will make this centre a world-class attraction. The new centre will just be the latest commemoration of this incredible site and this particular series of excavations is hugely interesting because it is looking at the legacy of the site as a memorial and the way that people have memorialised and interacted with it throughout the centuries."

The new centre has been designed by award-winning architects Reiach and Hall as part of the project to enhance the presentation of the battle and its significance to our history in time for the 700th anniversary of the battle in 2014. In addition to the Rotunda, the site is also the focus for other memorials to the battle: the famous Pilkington-Jackson statue of Bruce, a cairn built in 1957, and the flagpole erected in 1870.

Derek Alexander, Head of Archaeological Services for the National Trust for Scotland, said: "The first memorial to the battle was in fact the Borestone itself: a flat stone with a circular hole 4 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep. Tradition has it that the Borestone was the socket in which Robert Bruce, King of Scots, raised his standard prior to the battle and marks the site of the Scots camp. The site has been visited by tourists since the 18th century, including Robert Burns, and an engraving of 1826 shows it beside the road in an open rural landscape. We are hoping that in addition to the position of the Borestone we may find objects dropped or even deliberately placed and left by visitors to the site over the last couple of hundred years – it certainly worth investigating."

Over the years numerous visitors chipped off parts of the Borestone, to take home as souvenirs, and by the middle of the 19th century the fragments had to be protected by an iron grille set into a low stone wall and the site was staffed by a custodian. During the building of the rotunda in the 1960s the precise location of the original Borestone was cleared and re-surfaced and the last two fragments transferred into the new visitor centre for safe-keeping. The current archaeological investigations are looking for the site of the original Borestone itself, which may be marked by a bed of mortar. Another trench will also be excavated over one end of the 19th century custodian’s hut. In both trenches it is hoped there may be artefacts dropped by visitors to the site over the last 300 years.

The proposal for the new visitor centre was announced in 2009 with £5m funding from the Scottish Government. An application for £3.8m has received a stage one pass from the Heritage Lottery Fund with a final decision hoped for early in 2012. 2014 will be a huge year for events in Scotland – as well as the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, Scotland will also play host to the Commonwealth Games and The Ryder Cup.

Festive Fun at Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle is looking forward to the festive season with fun filled Christmas activities including a Shopping Fayre, Carols at the Castle with the Stirling branch of The National Youth Choir of Scotland and a Stewart Christmas, where visitors will enjoy a light-hearted look back to the time of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Royal Stewart Court of the 16th century. Neil Oliver, historian and broadcaster, will be making a guest appearance at the Christmas Shopping Fayre on Tuesday 6th December, where he will be signing copies of his new book, A History of Ancient Britain.

The Christmas Fayre will take place in the Great Hall from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Enjoy the festive atmosphere of log fires and mulled wine as you browse at your leisure for the perfect Christmas presents from a selection of Scottish designers including Gillian Kyle, Scott Inness, Sheila Fleet, Ortak and Harris Tweed.

Stirling Castle’s award-winning caterers, benugo will be carrying out cookery demonstrations and will have information about their sumptuous three course Christmas lunches at the Unicorn Café, available from 8th – 23rd December.

To book, visit Tickets for the Christmas Fayre can be purchased on line at or from the Clan and Craft shop on Stirling Castle esplanade. Kids under 16 go free but must be accompanied by an adult. The £5:00 entry includes car parking.

Exhibition capturing historic residency opens at Stirling Castle

The remarkable success of Historic Scotland’s artist in residence project is being celebrated with a new exhibition at Stirling Castle, where works inspired by the iconic landmark will capture the site’s turbulent history and outstanding built heritage. Iona Leishman’s colourful mix of real and imagined subject material stretches to around 80 canvases, many inspired by the dramatic physical outlines and sheer power of the castle’s crag-top location.

Her portfolio also conjures historical moments inspired by the Royal court at Stirling, where the machinations of kings and queens ultimately forged the political legacy of modern Scotland. The project reflects Historic Scotland’s aim to make imaginative use of the nation’s built heritage through an extensive and varied educational programme.

The fruits of her residency are now on display in "Sense of Place", which opens to the public on December 2nd, and runs until December 31st. The show is free to all visitors during normal opening hours at Stirling Castle, and can be found in the Exhibition Room within the Nether Bailey complex, between the central castle buildings and the western ramparts.

All the paintings are for sale, and an exhibition catalogue has been published at £6.95.


Still time to register for Historic Scotland Free Ticket Giveaway

People looking to kick off their St. Andrews celebrations this weekend (Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th November) still have time to access over 40 of Scotland’s top heritage attractions for free. Visitors must register in advance at a special website to download their free weekend pass which gives free access for up to two adults and three children to all ticketed Historic Scotland properties on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th November.

The free admission pass to Historic Scotland’s winter ticketed attractions includes Edinburgh Castle, Scotland’s number one tourist attraction and recently voted Top UK Heritage Attraction at the British Travel Awards, the newly refurbished renaissance palace at Stirling Castle, and Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness and many more. Registration will remain open online all weekend but visitors must be in receipt of their pass to receive free entry.

The Historic Scotland Free Ticket Giveaway is part of the ‘Visit for Free’ programme. ‘Visit for Free’ is part of the Scottish Government’s Winter Festivals campaign which celebrates three of the country’s most distinctive festivals- St. Andrews Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night.

RNLI 5k and 10k Reindeer Run

The RNLI saves lives at sea and is funded by voluntary donations. Join the herd on 27th November while taking park in the RNLI 5k and 10k Reindeer Run around the beautiful grounds of Stirling University. Each participant receives a free t-shirt, their very own pair of antlers and also a medal on completion of the run. Refreshments will also be available at the finish line. Get your antlers on and join the fun! The 10k will start at 10am and the 5k at 11am

Contact: Fiona or Caryn on 01738 642 999 or at reindeer@rnrli

New exhibition captures historic residency at Stirling Castle

The remarkable success of Historic Scotland’s artist-in-residence project is being celebrated with a new exhibition at Stirling Castle, where works inspired by the iconic landmark will capture the site’s turbulent history and outstanding built heritage. Iona Leishman’s colourful mix of real and imagined subject material stretches to around 80 canvases, many inspired by the dramatic physical outlines and sheer power of the castle’s crag-top location. Her portfolio also conjures historical moments inspired by the Royal court at Stirling, where the machinations of kings and queens ultimately forged the political legacy of modern Scotland.

The potential of this rich source material has allowed Iona to develop a huge body of work that has attracted interest from thousands of castle visitors. Her talents have also helped schools and community groups develop their own creativity and skills. The project reflects Historic Scotland’s aim to make imaginative use of the nation’s built heritage through an extensive and varied educational programme.

Iona (48), originally from Perth, has used her broad range of styles to appeal to a wide range of tastes and ages. Based in a workshop in the Nether Bailey, an outlying building previously adapted as a powder magazine, Iona has produced paintings that range from lush naturalistic impressions of the castle to dreamy washes of colour haunted by ethereal figures.

Many of Iona’s paintings are imbued with a dream-like quality, and the artist admits that dreams play an important role in the creation of some of her works. "The hidden meanings sometimes associated with dreams are reflected in my paintings," she explained, "I like to layer paint and then rub parts away to reveal the colours underneath, which can create surprises and add just the qualities I’m looking for."

The fruits of her residency are now being mounted in a retrospective exhibition at the castle, "Sense of Place", which is being launched on December 2nd. The show is free to all visitors at Stirling Castle, and can be found in Exhibition Room within the Nether Bailey complex, between the central castle buildings and the western ramparts. All paintings are for sale, and an exhibition catalogue has been published at £6.95. A special series of greetings cards and prints based on a selection of Iona’s work is available in the castle gift shop and at the Clan and Craft shop on the esplanade.

Interest, both internally and externally, in what Iona has achieved has stimulated an expansion of the artist in residence scheme, and work is now underway to create new programmes at Huntingtower Castle near Perth and Jedburgh Abbey in the Scottish Borders. Full details of these new residencies, due to run from January to March 2012, will be announced soon.

Visit the Wallace Monument for free on St. Andrew’s Day

Celebrate St. Andrew’s Day with a visit to the Wallace Monument where there will be free admission to all Visitors on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th November.


Stirling Heritage Attractions Open Their Doors for free

Over 40 of Scotland’s top heritage attractions will be opening their doors for free this November. Historic Scotland is once again offering free admission to its winter ticketed attractions including Scotland’s number one tourist attraction, Edinburgh Castle, the newly refurbished renaissance palace at Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness as part of its St. Andrews ‘Visit For Free’ programme.

In the central region, participating attractions joining Stirling Castle are Castle Campbell, Doune Castle and Dunblane Cathedral. Visitors simply need to register in advance at a special website to download their free weekend pass which gives free access for up to two adults and three children to all ticketed Historic Scotland properties on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th November.

Edinburgh Castle and St. Andrews Castle and Cathedral will also be free to walk up visitors on the 30th November to give the opportunity to view the Honours of Scotland and the Stone of Destiny on Scotland’s national day which both reside at Edinburgh Castle.

The ‘Visit for Free’ programme is part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals – which celebrates three of the country’s most distinctive festivals- St. Andrews Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night. This year there will also be a number of costumed performances happening at the sites. This includes The Legend of St. Andrews at St. Andrews Cathedral and special events at Edinburgh Castle. Meanwhile, a Winter Festival Family Quiz is being launched at Edinburgh Castle which will run until Burns Night, whilst the Gaelic Junior Guides will be conducting two special performances on St. Andrews Day itself.

Historic Scotland is also offering the opportunity to collect stamps at each site visited over the weekend. After they have collected their fifth sticker they are eligible to enter an online competition which offers Historic Scotland membership and a chance to win a VIP trip to either Stirling or Edinburgh Castles.

Stirling's Christmas lights switch-on

Stirling's annual Christmas Lights switch-on and parade will take place on Sunday 20th November. The parade will start at 12 noon at Corn Exchange Road (outside the Municipal Buildings) and proceed down King Street, with the final leg of the journey being a trip through The Thistles Shopping Centre. Santa will open his free grotto (no gift) in The Thistles at 12.30pm and his reindeer will be penned outside Costa Coffee at the Murray Place entrance to the centre until 2pm. Joining the parade will be Santa's real reindeer friends.

A line-up of action packed events will see us through the afternoon, hosted by Capital FM's Adele, performances from Stageworx, The Rock Choir, The Heart of Scotland Choir and the pop sensation, Tallia Storm, will surely rock the afternoon. Capital FM's 'Des and Jenny' will then take the stage to countdown the big button push. The Christmas lights will be switched on at 5pm by Stirling Provost Fergus Wood.

Stirling Farmers Market

Stirling Farmers Market is being held twice a month between now and Christmas. Get the local festive taste with an outstanding range of superb produce:

Highland beef, pork and bacon, venison and wild game, wild boar, fresh and smoked fish, great bread in variety – continental and traditional recipes including sourdoughs, scones and cakes, gluten-free baking, jams, chutneys & preserves, Scottish cheeses and butter, free-range hen/duck eggs, organic vegetables, cold-pressed oilseed-rape products and dressings, fudge and tablet, low sodium sea-salt, savoury pies, country fruit wines, hand-made, jewellery, soaps and body care products, knitted baby clothes, garden plants, shrubs and festive table decoratiions.

October 8 and 22, November 12 and 26, December 10 and 17 between 10am to 4pm. Port Street, Stirling City Centre (outside Marks and Spencer).

Stirling and Bridge of Allan Round Table Fireworks Display

Saturday, November 5th at Strathallan Games Park, Bridge of Allan. The evening will be hosted by Joe and Nicky from Central FM's breakfast show and this year's line up includes Jamie "Afro" Archer the X-Factor finalist, David Bateman and Ted Christopher.

Gates open at 5:45pm. The Bonfire will be lit at 7:15pm and the Firework display, by Fireworx Scotland Ltd, starts at 7:30pm. All the profit from this event goes to charity. Food is available, provided by Taste of the Trossachs.

£4 (£2; Students £3; Family £10)

David Hayman brings his one man play to Stirling Tolbooth

Actor and director David Hayman brings his one man play, "Six and a Tanner" and a Q&A session to the Tolbooth. Bafta award winning actor and director David Hayman stars in the hugely powerful one-man play Six and a Tanner. Written by Rony Bridges, the play sees a middle-aged man relive the joys and tragedies of his 1950's childhood as he rages at the coffin of his dead father. Based on a true story, this is a powerful, moving and hilarious tribute to life in all its absurdity.

The play is followed by a Q and A session with David which promises to be a lively discussion full of warmth, humour and an insight into his distinguished career and humanitarian work with Spirit Aid. All proceeds from the play go to David's charity, Spirit Aid.

Thursday 3 Nov, 8pm

Some tickets are available online or from 01786 27 4000.

Honorary degrees awarded at Stirling graduation

More than 700 students will attend graduation ceremonies in the Albert Halls, Stirling on 25 November when Honorary degrees will be awarded to architect Robert Steedman OBE and environmental history Professor Donald Worster. University Chancellor and broadcaster Dr James Naughtie will present the degrees during ceremonies which will take place at 10am, 12.30pm and 3pm.

Mr Steedman will receive an Honorary Doctorate in recognition of his outstanding contribution to architecture and design in Scotland. This includes his design for the University’s residence for the Principal created in 1967 by his architectural design practice Morris and Steedman. The house, which overlooks Airthrey Castle, has spectacular views and was listed by Historic Scotland in 2009. It has been described as one of the best examples of 1960s modern domestic architecture in Scotland.

An architecture graduate from Edinburgh College of Art, Mr Steedman gained a postgraduate Masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania prior to founding architectural practice Morris and Steedman in 1958. The practice was lauded for its wide range of innovative buildings and sensitive landscape designs throughout Scotland for corporate, public and private clients over a 50 year period.

In 1979 he was elected an Academician of the Royal Scottish Academy, following his earlier award of the European Architectural Heritage Medal in 1975. He received the Royal Institute of British Architects Award for Scotland for the design of his own home in 1989 and awarded the OBE for services to Architecture and the Built Environment in 1991. In May 2009, his achievements were recognised again as he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.

Professor Donald Worster will receive an Honorary Doctorate in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field of global environmental history. Professor Worster is widely regarded as one of the founding figures of environmental history and in 2009 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences - one of the United States’ most prestigious honorary societies. Professor Worster actively supported the establishment of specialist research in environmental history at Stirling and works to promote and develop the subject across Europe.

His latest book A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir, won the Homecoming Award for 2009 given by the Saltire Society at the National Library of Scotland. It was also awarded the Book of the Year prize in 2010, given by the Scottish Arts Council and funded by the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust. Muir was a Scottish-born American naturalist and early advocate of preservation of the environment in the United States.

His latest book A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir, won the Homecoming Award for 2009 given by the Saltire Society at the National Library of Scotland. It was also awarded the Book of the Year prize in 2010, given by the Scottish Arts Council and funded by the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust. Muir was a Scottish-born American naturalist and early advocate of preservation of the environment in the United States.

Elizabeth Blackadder celebrates 80th birthday with unique exhibition

elizabeth blackadder at the University of Stirling

Renowned Scottish artist Elizabeth Blackadder will attend the official opening of a special exhibition of her artwork in the Pathfoot Building, University of Stirling, on 12 November from 12pm to 2pm. "Journeys Together" marks Blackadder’s 80th birthday and is a special collection of paintings, watercolours and drawings celebrating the creative partnership between the artist and her late painter husband John Houston. Blackadder and Houston were at the epicentre of the Scottish art world for decades.

Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, will officially open the exhibition alongside Duncan MacMillan, Professor Emeritus of University of Edinburgh and Art Critic of the Scotsman.

Falkirk-born Blackadder studied and lectured at Edinburgh College of Art and is consistently named as one of Scotland’s greatest artists. She has won a number of awards and was appointed Her Majesty’s Painter and Limner in Scotland in 2001. Expressionist painter Houston lectured at Edinburgh College of Art and in 2005 held a retrospective at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Houston died in 2008.

A parallel Blackadder exhibition titled "Journeys from Home" will also be held at The Park Gallery, Falkirk, in partnership with Falkirk Community Trust from 12 November until 25 February 2012. This display gives an overview of the journey that Blackadder has undertaken in developing into one of Britain’s pre-eminent artist and gives an insight into her life. The pictures and objects tell a story of the places that she has been to, from her beginnings in Falkirk and her first visits to Italy, to her subsequent journeys throughout Europe and to Japan with her late husband John Houston

Stirling University art collection was founded in 1967 and currently holds over 500 works comprising of paintings, prints, tapestries, poetry, film, sculpture and glass with an emphasis on contemporary Scottish paintings and outdoor sculpture. In 1997 the SAC (Scottish Arts Council) dispersed their collection and donated works by Blackadder and Houston to the University, joining paintings and prints from the artists that had already been purchased by Stirling. The collection has also grown with subsequent gifted works from Blackadder.

The collection is displayed predominantly in the Pathfoot Building, a recently listed example of 1960’s modernist architecture overlooking the loch around which the campus is built. Many items are on permanent display in the building, some feature in temporary exhibitions and we host exhibitions by invited artists. There is permanent and free public access to Pathfoot throughout the year and tours are offered to visitors. Gallery opening times are Monday to Friday from 9am to 7pm and Saturday/Sunday from 11am to 3pm.

The Pathfoot exhibition is on display until 25 February 2012.


Going Carbon Neutral Stirling - Cycle Train

Did you know motor vehicles contribute to around 27% of all the world's greenhouse gas emissions? This autumn, CycleStirling contributes towards a solution with a fun-packed programme of events that will boost your confidence, improve your health and give you a pre-work smile.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the cycle train will provide a fun, safe, guided cycle on the way to work. Initially set up to run between Dunblane and Stirling University, the cycle train will provide you with lights, direction, and a very sociable way to get to work.

The morning train leaves at 8:15 am at Dunblane train station and 8:20 at Leewood Road and Glen Road.

The evening train leaves at 5:15pm from the MacRobert Centre.

Free one-to-one Cycle Commuter Training is also now available to boost your confidence and skills in traffic, in the dark and on your route to work. This course is offered to the first 50 adults to contact Going Carbon Neutral Stirling. If you are looking to cycle to work, but don’t know how, or you are not confident on the road, this course will provide you with a welcome boost to your cycle confidence.

For more information or to sign up, please contact Gavin at 01786 468 765 or email

Stirling study that discovered medieval architectural gems

Research into medieval churches that uncovered unique, previously unrecorded findings including a 13th century medieval crucifixion scene, has been given a £500,000 boost to fund a second phase. Professor of Medieval and Environmental History, Richard Oram, of the University of Stirling is working with researchers at St Andrew’s University to analyse buildings and sites as part of the Corpus of Scottish Medieval Parish Churches project.

The pilot phase of the project carried out in 2008-9 covered 105 parish churches in the dioceses of Dunkeld and Dunblane. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has awarded a grant of £490,656 to fund the second phase of the project which covers 258 parishes in the dioceses of St Andrews and Brechin.

Professor Oram said the first phase of the study revealed some interesting findings including the discovery that many of the buildings that looked entirely 18th or 19th century were shown to contain surviving medieval fabric. He added: "At Leny, by Callander, we found surviving pieces of medieval sculptural detail with early 13th century capitals from the columns that went either side of a doorway - one of which had a beautiful crucifixion scene carved on it. These had not been recognised in any previous recording work at the site. It’s helping to give us a much better picture of what the surviving resource is and what conservation issues there may be arising from current land-use, changing building function and environmental change".

"The work carried out in phase one also revealed a lot more building and repair work being undertaken in the decades immediately before the Reformation. This went against the traditional image of that being a period of general decline in standards. It also revealed the existence of a group of highly skilled mason-architects who were responsible for reconstruction at a number of churches – we can now identify work as being the output of particular craftsmen."

Phase two will start in March 2012 and is expected to take three years to complete. Findings from the project will help to conserve and protect the buildings in the future. Research from the initial study has already been used by academic and non-academic bodies and it is anticipated that evidence from the second phase will be valuable to community, church and heritage groups, as well as to councils and other stakeholders with a role in the use and preservation of the buildings and sites.

Professor Oram said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to raise public awareness of unique but often neglected architectural gems from our past. I’m most looking forward to unravelling the structural history of some of Scotland’s greatest medieval buildings and potentially rediscovering ‘lost histories’ for some of the lesser-known ones. This project will enable us to focus for the first time on a group of buildings that were central to the lives of the entire population – not just the great and the good – and enable us to see how they developed over time, how those developments reflected changes in our ancestors’ expressions of religious faith, and how individuals shaped the development of the buildings".

Information and images from the study have been uploaded to the website, where it can be freely accessed. The findings will also be developed into a range of publications and presentations.

Woodland History Guided Walk

Join woodland expert Coralie Mills on Sunday 23rd October, for an all-day (9am - 5.30pm) hill walk along the southern slopes of Loch Katrine. Explore the ancient woodlands and remarkable old oak trees around Ben Venue and Glasahoile to reveal some amazing clues to their past. The walk will be strenuous as we travel off the beaten track to pass over Bealach nam Bo.

Participants need to have a moderate fitness, suitable outdoor walking gear and will need to bring a packed lunch. Admission is free. Meet at Ben Venue car park (on A821). To book your place call Sue Morris 07775 034851

Crowning Glory for Stirling Castle

A new, hand-woven tapestry depicting the Unicorn at Bay has been unveiled in the recently opened James V Palace at Stirling Castle. The 3.3m by 3.8m tapestry is the fifth in the series of seven to be specially commissioned to hang in the newly opened attraction within Stirling Castle. The designs are based on a collection of original 16th century Flemish tapestries titled The Hunt of the Unicorn held in the Cloisters Museum at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as research has shown that the Scottish royal collection also included a series depicting "the historie of the unicorne".

Louise Martin, Senior Weaver at Stirling Castle, said: "This is a very special moment for the project We started weaving the first tapestry in 2001, so the completion of the Unicorn at Bay represents the climax of a decade of weaving. What’s so wonderful about the Palace is that it allows visitors to step back in time and see what a Scottish royal palace was like in its heyday, when the tapestries, furnishings, furniture and decorations were colourful and new."

The Historic Scotland Foundation – the independent Scottish charity established to support the work of Historic Scotland – also received donations from other sources to reach the milestone £1m mark. It will continue to fund the project until completion with future donations expected to exceed £450,000 over the next two years, bringing the total cost of the tapestry project to around £2m.

The Unicorn at Bay tapestry shows the huntsmen and their hounds surrounding the mythical creature and is intricately detailed. Like the four previously completed works that already hang in the Queen’s Inner Hall, it is a breathtaking display of the skills of the weavers from West Dean Studio. The tapestries are being woven by West Dean Tapestry Studio in a specially created studio at Stirling Castle and at the West Dean studio in West Sussex.

Archaeology begins for new Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre

Archaeologists have started preliminary investigations at the site of the new visitor centre for the Battle of Bannockburn, designed by award-winning architects Reiach and Hall as part of the project to enhance the presentation of the battle and its significance to our history in time for the 700th anniversary of the battle in 2014.

Trial trenching is the first stage in preparations for the landscaping and building work that will begin in the new year. The current archaeological work is focussed on the car park in the area of the proposed new visitor centre, and hopes to uncover evidence of the Roman Road which is thought to travel through the site.

Derek Alexander, Head of Archaeological Services at the National Trust for Scotland explains: "Prior to the 1950s, this land was agricultural fields and earlier archaeological features may survive below the tarmac. As the current car park is a hard surface, the normal geophysical techniques of magnetometry and resistivity would be of limited use, therefore a team of specialists from Orkney have been employed to use Ground Penetrating Radar which can take readings through and beneath the tarmac.

In the 19th century, the Ordnance Survey map makers drew the line of the potential Roman Road running through this area and it is likely that Edward II’s army would have advanced along this route. However, the exact line of the Roman Road is not known for sure and it may lie closer to or beneath the current main road in front of the existing centre.

The survey will hopefully identify any linear features which may be a trackway or road and old field boundaries. It may also locate pits associated with camp of the Scots army. Archaeologists using earthmoving machinery will dig trial trenches within the car park area to test any of the features located by the geophysical survey and to prospect for others."

Strictly Come Renaissance Dancing at Stirling Castle

Whilst Strictly Come Dancing hits our screens this weekend, visitors to Stirling Castle will be able to take to part in an entirely different type of dancing. The castle, which has just completed a magnificent restoration of its palace to return the interior to how it may have looked at the time of a young Mary Queen of Scots, is running workshops in renaissance dancing this weekend as part of its annual Michaelmas Festival.

Other activities include the opportunity to find out more about 16th century dress, meeting a master musician of the court and finding out more about the festival of Michaelmas from the master of the house, the Royal Cook. Visitors can also try their hand at renaissance pastimes such as skittles and bridgeball as well as dropping into the royal kitchens to meet the cooks preparing for the michealmas feast.

12 noon – 4.00 p.m. on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd October


Do You Have the Luck Factor?

Why do some people always seem to be in the right place at the right time, while others are always unlucky? Why do some people lead happy and successful lives, yet others meet repeated failure and sadness? The answers to these fundamental questions about life will be explored by a best-selling psychologist who has worked with some of the world's luckiest and unluckiest people.

Professor Richard Wiseman, Chair in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, will reveal the results of his research into these questions when he speaks about 'The Luck Factor' at the University of Stirling. A passionate advocate for science, Professor Wiseman's books on luck, self-help, the paranormal and quirky psychology have been translated into over 30 languages, and the Independent On Sunday recently named him as one of the top 100 people who make Britain a better place to live.

His talk, the 6th annual John Damien Lecture, will be delivered in the Logie Lecture Theatre, Stirling campus, on Thursday 6 October at 6pm.

The event is free and open to all. If you wish to book a place, please email or telephone 01786 467640.

For more information about Richard Wiseman, see

RNLI Reindeer Run ( 5k and 10k)

The RNLI saves lives at sea and is funded by voluntary donations. Join the herd on 27th November while taking park in the RNLI 5k and 10k Reindeer Run around the beautiful grounds of Stirling University. Each participant receives a free t-shirt, their very own pair of antlers and also a medal on completion of the run. Refreshments will also be available at the finish line. Get your antlers on and join the fun! Contact: Fiona or Caryn on 01738 642 999 or visit today!

Bannockburn Battle Centre Plans on Show

The Project Team leading the charge to create a brand new visitor centre at Bannockburn has invited neighbours to join them for coffee and information on Wednesday 21 September. From 11.00am, the project team, including the architects who have come up with the bold design for the new visitor centre will be on-hand to explain the plans and to answer questions about the project.

The ambitious project is a partnership between heritage agency Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland and is generously supported by the Scottish Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Architects Reiach and Hall have created the blueprint for the new building which takes its inspiration from traditional Scottish buildings and uses building materials to evoke the textures of tweed and chainmail. Its colouring means it will blend into the landscape and increase the prominence of the commemorative monuments onsite. Landscaping works will restore the dignity of the site and evoke a traditional parkland feel.

2014 will be a huge year for events in Scotland – as well as the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, we will also play host to the Commonwealth Games and The Ryder Cup. The coffee morning is a great opportunity to come along and see the designs and hear more from the expert team about how they plan to enhance the site in time for 2014.

Andrew O'Hagan speaks at the University of Stirling

Award-winning novelist and non-fiction writer Andrew O'Hagan will speak on the University of Stirling campus on Wednesday 28 September. His talk, "Civic Memory: An Argument On the Character of Scottish Culture," will be given at macrobert Filmhouse, starting at 12.30 pm. The event is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a book signing. Doors open at 12 noon.

O'Hagan's talk is adapted from a provocative, insightful, and often hilarious lecture commissioned by the National Theatre of Scotland and presented at this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival, exploring how our understanding of places in general - and Scotland in particular - depends on shared memories.

Andrew O'Hagan was born in Glasgow in 1968 and is the author of seven books. His first novel, Our Fathers (1998), was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and in 2003 O'Hagan was named in Granta's list of the 'Best of Young British Novelists'. He recently adapted his award-winning 1995 debut The Missing - a groundbreaking mix of social history, memoir and reportage - for a staging by the National Theatre of Scotland. The play will be performed from 15 September to October 1 at the Tramway Theatre in Glasgow.

This event, presented by the School of Arts and Humanities, is the first in the 'House of Words at macrobert' series, a collaboration between the School's new creative writing programme and the university's thriving arts centre.

For more information, contact 01786 467 506 or visit

Stirling MacRobert 40th birthday screening

To mark the MacRobert's 40th birthday year, Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, will be screened on Sunday 18 September at 8.00pm. This was the very first film to be shown on the macrobert cinema screen on the same date forty years ago. Take a journey back in time for exactly the same admission price as back in the day - only 30p!

In Billy Wilder's cinematic homage to the spirit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, British stage luminary Robert Stephens plays Holmes, while Colin Blakely is his friend and chronicler Dr. Watson. This self-described "hitherto suppressed and thoroughly fascinating" tale concerns Holmes' search for a missing mining engineer, a case that may have a far-reaching effect on the national security of England. Along the way, Holmes falls in love for the first time in his life, with an enigmatic foreign beauty.

Renowned Scottish artist takes up residence at Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle has been the inspiration for many paintings and drawings over the centuries and now its has its own artist in residence. Visitors will now be able to see Iona Leishman, a rising star among Scottish painters, carry out a residency at the castle for the rest of 2011 and view a selection of her work on display and on sale.

During this time she will work with schools and community groups to develop the creative talents of children and adults, including supporting high school students who are putting together portfolios for art exams. Iona will also create her own art, capturing and reflecting the character of one of the Scotland’s most famous historic sites in a way that has never been done before.

Visitors are likely to see her sketching or painting in the castle. The initiative is part of Historic Scotland’s far-reaching educational programme which aims to make the best and most imaginative use of our national heritage. Perth-born Iona, 48, has been a professional artist for eight years and has a growing reputation as a landscape painter and especially enjoys working in oils. She lives in Dunblane, and is the granddaughter of one of its most famous citizens, John Reith, first director general of the BBC. Her colourful and distinctive style is increasingly popular with galleries and collectors across the UK and overseas.

Exhibitions are planned in the autumn and winter where visitors can enjoy art by Iona and by members of the groups she has supported.

Stirling Doors Open Day

10 and 11 September

Doors Open Days take place every September. They are Scotland’s celebration of European Heritage Days and are specially organised days when you can visit many historic and interesting buildings all over Scotland completely free of charge.

This year is the twenty-first anniversary of the Doors open Event in Scotland. Stirling has a rich history, magnificent scenery and many splendid historic buildings. On Doors Open Days some of the finest buildings in the Stirling area are opening their doors, free of charge, to give the public the opportunity to explore their interiors. You will be able to visit the Church of the Holy Rude, Cowane’s Hospital, Georgian House, Historic Scotland’s Store, Holy Trinity Church, Langgarth House, Stirling Highland Hotel and Observatory, Stirling Sheriff Court, Stirling Tolbooth and Stirling Youth Hostel. Entry to all buildings and events is completely free.

Pick up a leaflet around the around the town. Call Stirling Council on 01786 443 407 or email mcintoshf@ for further information about the Stirling event.

Wallace Monument Anniversary

The National Wallace Monument in Stirling, which has been marking the 150th Anniversary this year of the laying of its foundation stone, will be welcoming historians and archaeologists to The Abbey Craig during the month of September, to interpret the story of The Battle of Stirling Bridge, and to search for evidence of the 8th Century hill fort which once stood on the site now dominated by the famous landmark.

On 10th and 11th September 2011 the Anniversary of The Battle of Stirling Bridge will be marked by ‘A Walk with Wallace’, when visitors can join historical interpreters for a short guided walk and presentation, viewing the route followed by Wallace’s army, and meeting the leader of Scotland’s forces, to hear how he successfully defeated the army of King Edward. Walks will depart each day from the front of the Monument at 11.00am, 12.00pm, 2.00pm, and 3.00pm.

Visitors will also be able to visit the Monument itself, with its many exhibits (including Wallace’s famous battle sword) telling the story of Scotland’s national hero, and enjoy fascinating Falconry Displays, with magnificent Birds of Prey.

Over 500 years before Wallace’s famous victory, The Abbey Craig was a scene of defeat - when an Iron Age fort on the site was destroyed by fire, which historians believe followed a battle or a siege. The Abbey Craig Dig, part of a programme of events to mark Scottish Archaeology Month, will be taking place between 16th and 19th September, when archaeologists will be hoping to uncover some evidence of the fort, destroyed around 700 AD. The stone-built walls of the fort were fused together and vitrified when temperatures reached over 1,000º C, and the flames which lit up the sky would have been visible for miles around.

Visitors are welcome to view The Abbey Craig Dig - and can also apply to join the team of archaeologists involved in the project, who will provide special training to volunteers wishing to participate.

Further information is available from The National Wallace Monument at (01786) 472140, or at

From the Stirling Council website.


New York guitar hero Preston Reed arrives in Stirling

New York guitar phenomenon Preston Reed brings his astounding one-man show to the Tolbooth in stirling on 26th August and proves the acoustic guitar has no limits. His astonishing technique has been described as "impossible" - how can one man with ten fingers make his acoustic sound like the sum of a bluegrass convention and a drum-off between rainforest tribes?

This intimate gig will provide an opportunity for music fans to experience first hand the skill, dexterity and showmanship that has earned Reed the title of "the world’s most gifted guitarist" (Total Guitar magazine). Starts at 8pm, Tickets £8/£10.

Blazin’ Fiddles return to Stirling

Hailing from the Highlands and Islands, the award-winning Blazin’ Fiddles return to Stirling on 27 August, to raise the roof of the Tolbooth. Fiddlers Bruce Macgregor, Allan Henderson, Jenna Reid and Iain Macfarlane are joined by Anna Massie on guitar/fiddle and Andy Thorburn on keyboard for an evening of outstanding musicianship and highly entertaining onstage banter. Support for this show comes from an inspiring group of young traditional musicians, many of whom have been members of the Tolbooth's Traditional Music Workshops since they were established in 2005. Starts at 8pm, Tickets £14/£12.

SEE full details at Whats On at Stirling Tolbooth and find out the amazing artists who are heading to Stirling.

Bark in the park

Plean Country Park is set to celebrate our four-legged friends on Sunday 21st August from 12pm to 5pm with the annual ‘Bark In The Park’ event. Organised by Stirling Council Countryside Service in conjunction with Friends of Plean Country Park there will be all things canine, with charity and trade stands, food vans, face painting.

Watch the doggy displays and enter your pooch into competitions. Have a go and see how many toys can be picked up in the space of a minute, in the fastest Pick-Up challenge. Your dog can also help do your bit for charity, by entering a sponsored walk around the park being run by Canine Concern Scotland Trust. Register at their stall at 10.45am, to start at 11am or pick up your sponsor form at Plean Country Park leaflet dispensers, or visit the Stirling Council website.

Friends of Plean Country Park is a registered charity and will be taking donations from the event to help care for the park. They have been working alongside the Countryside Rangers to plan this event and carry out some tasks in the park to get it ready for the event.

From the Stirling Council website.

Fisheries open day

Stirling Council Fisheries is having an Open Day on the River Forth on Sunday 28 August between 10.30am and 3.30pm. Former three-times World Champion Fly Caster Scott McKenzie will be at the ‘Open Day’ event, which will be held at the Dykes Car Park, Craigforth, along with other casting instructors to offer advice and tuition in the art of casting with a double handed rod.

Scott will demonstrate the art of casting which has seen him winning three world championships. There will be the opportunity to try various rods and lines as well as picking up some handy tips to improve casting. This is a unique opportunity not to be missed.

Stirling Council in partnership with The Forth Fisheries Trust will be on hand to explain the life cycle of salmon and to explain the merits of conservation. There will be a variety of stalls and staff from The Angling Centre Stirling, will provide advice and a range of goods will be on offer. A prize draw will also be held with the proceeds going to Strathcarron Hospice and The Forth Anglers Association.

Refreshments will be available throughout the day. The event is free and everybody is welcome.

From the Stirling Council website.

Big Bike Fun Day 2

Saturday, 27 August, 12 noon to 4pm

Join an afternoon of cycling fun at Big Bike Fun Day 2 at Forthside Road, just across the pedestrian "spikey" bridge from Stirling Railway Station. This is a follow-up to the very successful July 31 event at Stirling University. Organised by Going Carbon Neutral Stirling, a programme of environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful, the free event is designed to increase cycling confidence and ability through fun activities, free cycling training and a safe, short traffic free cycling loop aimed at families and less confident cyclists. Central FM will be there as well as free bike checks, security coding, face painting, longer bike routes and much more.

For more info, see

Great British Weather

Take part in this huge event with stars of the BBC.

A brand new BBC1 prime-time LIVE show, all about the Great British Weather, is coming to Stirling

Join BBC faces, Alexander Armstrong, Chris Hollins, Carol Kirkwood and celebrity guests as they present the show live from Stirling Castle.

Be part of the audience for this brand new programme as they bring the weather to life through exciting experiments and stunts.

Live from Stirling Castle, Castle Esplanade, Stirling Wednesday 3rd August 2011 6.00pm-8.30pm

Email Charlotte Armstrong with your contact details and the number of people in your party or call 020 7067 4873.

Please note the show is filmed live and will be outdoors. Love Productions is unable to guarantee that everyone who applies will receive tickets to the live event or appear on screen.

From the Stirling Council website.


Child's Play at Stirling Castle Royal Court

Travel back five hundred years in Scottish history and experience what life would have been like for a child of the royal court at Stirling Castle. On Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th July, from 11:00am until 4:00pm visitors can learn how to be a knight, what noble people wore, why boys wore long dresses until they were seven and be instructed on courtly past times and crafts by the ladies of the court.

There will also be a school for jesters and spies, a treasure hunt around the Castle, an audience with the young Queen, storytelling sessions and a demonstration of the weapons used at that time. Horrible history tales will also be told about food and manners, why fruit and vegetables were not on the menu and why washing wasn’t good for you.

Castle Executive Manager Gillian MacDonald said: "Visitors can join in lots of activities with our costumed characters and enjoy a fun-packed day out. They can also learn all about the childhood of Mary Queen of Scots, one of the most fascinating females in Scottish history. Furthermore it is an opportunity to see the beautifully refurbished interiors of six royal apartments in the palace building, which was the childhood home of Mary Queen of Scots, and her mother Mary of Guise."

A Child of the Royal Court
Programme for the day

11.00am Story Telling Aesop’s Fables
11.30am Fashion for the young noble
12.00noon School for fools
12.30pm To be a Knight (dependant on weather)
1.00pm Fashion of the young noble
1.30pm An audience with the young Queen
1.45 pm School for fools
2.00pm Story Telling Aesop’s Fables
3.00pm To be a Knight (dependant on weather)

Fun and food throughout the day
Princes’ and Princesses’ pastimes, throughout the day
Entry is included in the normal price of admission to the castle
Entry free for Historic Scotland members

Find full details about Stirling Castle at
Sightseeing in Stirling

Graeme Obree at Movies and Medals: Sport at the Cinema

Human Race celebrates London 2012 Open Weekend with a mini film festival.

Human Race: inside the science of sports medicine and Graeme Obree are hosting a screening of The Flying Scotsman followed by a Q&A session at the Macrobert cinema on Saturday 23 July.

Ever wondered what it takes to become a successful elite athlete? Is it natural ability or sheer determination? What is sporting success? Is it international recognition or personal best? Why not come along to the Macrobert cinema and find out from those who really know what it takes to be an elite athlete.

As part of the ‘One Year to Go’ countdown celebrations to London 2012 Human Race: inside the science of sports medicine will be showing The Flying Scotsman at the Macrobert cinema on Saturday 23 July. The film tells the true story of Graeme Obree’s journey to win the Individual Pursuit World Championship and his fight to defend the title.

After the film there will be a Q&A lead by Graeme Obree himself and Scottish Champion cyclists Kate Cullen and Marco Librizzi.

Movies & Medals: Sport at the Cinema forms part of the Human Race project which is supported by Legacy Trust UK and by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland as part of the Scottish Project. The Scottish project will create a lasting cultural legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games across Scotland.

Movies & Medals: Sport at the Cinema is part of Open Weekend 22-24 July - Open Weekend is a UK wide programme of over 1,000 unique sporting and cultural initiatives with thousands of people across the UK taking part in unique events and creative projects to celebrate the ‘One Year to Go’ countdown for the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games 2012. It forms part of Creative Scotland’s programme to celebrate London Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012 and Three Years to Go until Glasgow 2014.

For more information visit the Human Race website at

SEE full details at Whats On at Stirling macRobert

Smith launch Neish Pewter Collection

Stirling’s Smith Art Gallery and Museum will showcase one of the largest collections of pewter artefacts in the UK at the new Stirling Smith Pewter Gallery on Saturday 16 July. The Neish Pewter Collection ranges from tankards and rose bowls to the more obscure – such as nipple covers and urinal bottles.

At one time, pewter was as common as pottery and plastics are today, but during the 20th century, the use of pewter ceased and it was keenly collected by museums and private collectors. The collection was put together and owned by Alex Neish, an Edinburgh graduate who left Scotland in 1962 to pursue a successful business career in Argentina and Brazil.At long-range he built up the collection before retiring to Barcelona 15 years ago.

Alex had always wanted the collection to return to Scotland where it began 50 years ago. He viewed Stirling’s Smith Art Gallery and Museum as an ideal home because of its own outstanding collection of Scottish pewter. He gifted the collection to the people of Stirling and the Art gallery this year.

The Old Court, the pewter collection’s new home at the foot of Spittal Street, often referred to as the 'old district court’ building', has been renovated to display the pieces in their full splendour.

Stirling Provost Fergus Wood will meet Alex Neish to officially thank him on behalf of the people of Stirling for his generous gift at the Pewter Gallery on Tuesday 12 July. Colin O’Brien, Chairman of the Stirling Smith Trustees comments, "The Stirling Smith is very proud to have been given this world class private collection for our community and we hope to be able to incorporate a permanent home for it within the redevelopment of the Stirling Smith building."

The collection will be open to the public from Saturday 16 July and as always at the Stirling Smith, admission is free, but donations are welcome.

Opening Hours: Saturdays 1-4, Sundays 2-4.30

Stirling Smith Pewter Gallery, 23 Spittal Street, Stirling FK8 1DU

Big Bike Fun Day

Join an afternoon of cycling fun at the Big Bike Fun Day at the University of Stirling. From 12 noon to 4pm on Sunday, July 31 on various car-free streets near the MacRobert.

Organised by Going Carbon Neutral Stirling, a programme of environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful, the free event is designed to increase cycling confidence and ability through fun activities, free cycling training and a safe, short traffic free cycling loop aimed at families and less confident cyclists.

Central FM will be there to help add atmosphere and there will also be fun bike races (including Stirling’s Slowest Bike Race!), as well as free bike checks, security coding, face painting, longer bike routes and much more.

For more information see

Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum repair

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop has announced that Stirling’s principal art gallery and museum is to receive more than £260,000 for repairs. The Smith Art Gallery and Museum will put the Historic Scotland funding towards roof and stonework conservation to prevent weather damage.

The Cabinet Secretary said: "Venues such as the Smith Art Gallery and Museum have served their community for generations and are an invaluable resource in providing access to a wealth of art and exhibits. This grant will ensure that these opportunities are not lost. Times are tough but this type of project exemplifies why we need to invest in buildings at the heart of our communities so they can continue to be a resource for us all."

Established by the bequest of artist Thomas Stuart Smith (1815 – 1869) the gallery was purpose built in 1874 as The Smith Institute. It housed a collection of mainly contemporary art with museum and library reading rooms “for the benefit of the inhabitants of Stirling, Dunblane and Kinbuck”. The west elevation of the building was designed with no windows to allow for future expansion in accordance with the will of Thomas Stuart Smith which stipulated that allowance should be made for possible future expansion.

Brian Park, Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum Trustee said: “The Trustees hope to follow the repairs with the development of ambitious proposals to improve access, heating, insulation and an expansion of the gallery spaces thereby providing the opportunity to display the extensive collections more comprehensively and in a contemporary and accessible manner.”

Whats On at the Smith in Stirling


Stirling Tolbooth What's On Guide for July, August and September

Stirling’s venue for live music and performance, the Tolbooth, has announced their summer season of performances, workshops and exhibitions.

With nearly 40 separate events taking place between July and September, the Tolbooth has a packed programme of the very best in rock and pop, trad, Americana, jazz, world music and fun workshops for young people.

Highlights include the debut Tolbooth performances by Orkestra del Sol, Big Country and an acoustic set from Fish. There are also performances from the mighty jazz musician Dennis Rollins, a welcome return to the unique Hayseed Dixie and performances from Tolbooth friends, Blazin’ Fiddles and The Hot Seats.

Alongside the main performance programme, the Tolbooth are also running their Summer Workshops for young people. Designed as a fun introduction to creative techniques, the Summer Workshops are led by some fantastic tutors, including Stirling Castle’s senior weaver Louise Martin and range from documentary film making to being a pirate, making musical instruments out of junk and working with the internationally renowned Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra.

Summer wouldn’t be the same at the Tolbooth without the ever popular summer ceilidhs. Led by an amazing band, the ceilidhs are a fantastic evening of Scottish entertainment and have drawn in everyone from the passing Italian tourist to the most experienced ceilidh devotee.

The Tolbooth’s free guide to what’s on this summer is available by popping into the Tolbooth, going online at or by calling 01786 27 4000.

SEE full details at Whats On at Stirling Tolbooth and find out the amazing artists who are heading to Stirling.

Circus Of The Orient

Featuring a galaxy of international circus stars from China, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Bulgaria, Romania and France. Audiences can witness for the amazing world famous Shoalin Wu Shu Warriors appearing by kind permission of the Abbott of the Shaolin Temple and the Chinese Ministry Of Culture. Blink and you could miss it, such are the lightening reactions of the greatest exponents of martial arts, they stretch the limits of human achievement in this dazzling new production where east meets west.

Other world class artist’s include the sensational springboard acrobatics from the amazing ‘Julio Troupe’, combined with supreme aerialists, ‘Trio Serik’ who will be on hanging straps high in the roof of the Big Top. The beautiful ‘Monalisa’ will provide an element of grace with her aerial showcase.

Book early to avoid disappointment.
Find out more at: whatson/circus_orient.html

Sat 25th June to Sun 26th June
2 Days only!
Games Park, Bridge of Allan
Sat: 4.45pm and 7.15pm Sun: 12 and 2.30pm

Big Country

Big Country come to the Tolbooth as part of a tour of 5 small gigs to warm up for 'T in The Park' and "Inverness Summer In The City". The intimate nature of the Tolbooth will also give the band the ideal chance to 'break in' some new material. As founder member Bruce Watson said, "It's always better to test new songs in a viby, intimate environment, plus we get to see the fans reactions close up. We won't be doing many more like these so they're one off's."

Sounds like the band are looking forward to playing the Tolbooth and we can't wait.

This gig will sell out, so book your tickets to see Big Country from 9am on Monday!

Tuesday 12 July, doors 7pm

SEE full details at Whats On at Stirling Tolbooth and find out the amazing artists who are heading to Stirling.

Grand opening of Stirling Castle’s Renaissance royal palace

Final rehearsals are underway for this weekend’s grand opening of Stirling Castle’s Renaissance royal palace. More than 60 costumed performers including jesters, musicians, dancers, swordsmen, cooks, nobles and even two 16th-century queens will be entertaining the crowds. But the star attraction is the palace itself, with its six magnificently refurbished royal appointments, which back in the 1540s were home to dowager queen, Mary of Guise, and her young daughter Mary Queen of Scots.

The palace has been closed for two years while a £12 million project took place which has returned the apartments to how they may have looked in their heyday, and has seen the creation of new exhibitions and family-friendly interactive displays.

It’s best to buy tickets in advance online from the castle website, but some will now be available at the castle gate due to popular demand.

Gillian Macdonald, castle executive manager, said: " It’s been great seeing the rehearsals, and the performers will be putting on a fantastic show. It really will have something for everyone – sword fights, cannon firing, jesters, dancing, cookery demonstrations, music and dance. You may even be able to have an audience with her grace, Mary of Guise, and even see her daughter, Mary Queen of Scots. But the really big treat is the chance to be among the very first people to see inside the royal palace."

" The refurbishment is absolutely fabulous, and makes a wonderful new additions to Scotland’s list of visitor attractions."

Read more about Stirling Castle at
Sightseeing in Stirling

Doune the Rabbit Hole 2011

10th, 11th & 12th of June

A full three-day weekend of music, art, splendour, anti-mundanity and pleasure of every kind.

Returning for a second year, Doune the Rabbit Hole is a beautiful wee festival full of lovely people, lovely music and many other joyous bits and bobs to keep you entertained. It is to be held on walls surrounding the fairy-tale Doune Castle which provides the romantic back-drop to the event.

The line up is now finalised and we can confirm that, Polar Bear, Mungo's Hifi, The BMX Bandits, Mike Heron, Trembling Bells, Alsasdair Roberts, Nick Garrie, James Yorkston, The Vaselines and many, many more will be on board to entertain you.

It's not all about the music and there will be a diverse line-up of poetry, spoken word, performance and comedy. There'll also be lovely food and much, much more.

Money raised from Doune the Rabbit Hole events go towards funding new workshops and classes which will teach young, disadvantaged people how to play an instrument, write, paint or do anything creative.

Day Ticket Friday , Saturday, Sunday £32
Under 16s Day Ticket Friday, Saturday, Sunday £18

Weekend ticket + camping £58
Under 16's Weekend ticket + camping £40
£10 Parking

SEE full details at
Whats On in Stirling

The Scribbler's Picnic Weekender

Stirling is putting itself firmly at the heart of Scotland's music scene with The Scribbler's Picnic Weekender taking place from Friday 17th -Sunday 19th June 2011.

Acoustic Revolutions hosted by Crema Central Cafe, No. 2 Baker Street, The Westerton and The Albion Bar, are the latest venues to join in with the largest and most ambitious music festival in Stirling's history. These venues join The Fubar, Cape, McQ's, The Crooked Arm and Centre City Soul Club at The King Robert Hotel in hosting fundraising music nights for charity The Scribbler's Picnic on the run up to the self named event on Sunday 19th. Spanning over the course of the weekend, thousands are expected to take part, enjoying music of all genres and raising thousands for charity.

The Crooked Arm and No. 2 Baker Street will also be hosting after parties once the music stops at Stirling County Rugby Club, where the main event is being held.

Organiser Katy Whitelaw is delighted in the support from pubs, clubs and cafes in the area. She said: "We have had a great response from music promoters and licence trade operators in the area keen to get involved and be part of this really special weekend. There is still time to get involved and if there are any other venues out there who want to take part we would love to have you on board.

"As this is the 10th anniversary of the charity, and ten years since my dad Graham Whitelaw, a talented musician and the Stirling Observer 'Scribbler' died, we wanted to make this year extra special. The people of Central Scotland are key in making that happen. As always they are stepping up to the mark and going that extra mile to show their support.."

Full details of The Scribbler's Picnic Weekender will be available on the website and on our facebook page in the next week.

Funds from the weekend will be donated equally between five cancer charities - Strathcarron Hospice, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Macmillan Cancer Support, Maggies Centre Glasgow and CHAS. And many more groups and charites in the area will benefit by coming along to fundraise for themselves at the main event.

On Sunday June 19th music fans will flock to Stirling to see hundreds of talented performers entertain over eight stages. This year the well established Fubar Main Stage, Tolbooth Stage, Folk Room, Random Rhythms Rock Tent and Acoustic Cafe will be joined by the RoXJAM stage and the Good Vibrations Dance Room. A full line up will be available in the coming days.

The Scribbler's Picnic will also host the Scotmid Performance Stage featuring displays from local dance and fitness groups, stalls, beer tent and much more to be announced. Festival goers are reminded they can take part in a special wall of rememberance, for a small donation leaving a message about a loved one lost to cancer or for someone who has beaten the disease. They are being encouraged to bring along a photo to put alongside their message and this will keep an emphasise on why the day is important to many people affected by cancer.

For further information contact Katy Whitelaw 07525862348


Magnificent Tapestries arrive in Stirling Castle's Royal Palace

See them First at Grand Palace Opening Celebrations

Four fabulous tapestries have been hung on the walls of Stirling Castle’s Royal palace – marking a key moment in a £2 million weaving project. They are the first of a series of seven which are being hand-woven for the Queen’s Inner Hall, one of six apartments within the castle’s palace block which are being returned to how they may have looked in the 1540s.

Visitors will be able to see the tapestries in their new home during a weekend of special celebrations on 4 and 5 June to mark the reopening of the palace. The event, called Stirling Castle Presents – A Palace Fit For A Queen, will also feature 60 costumed performers including dancers, jesters, soldiers and nobles. There will even be appearances to meet a young Mary Queen of Scots, who lived in the palace as a child along with her mother Mary of Guise.

At that time the Scottish royal family had around 100 tapestries to hang on the walls of their favourite residences, of which Stirling’s palace was the newest. The tapestries are new interpretations of The Hunt of the Unicorn series which date from the early 16th century and are in the Cloisters Museum at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It is known that the Scottish royal collection also included a series depicting ‘the historie of the unicorne’. The tapestries are being woven by West Dean Tapestry Studio in a specially created studio at the castle and at the West Dean studio in West Sussex.

Louise Martin, Senior Weaver at Stirling Castle, said: “This is a very special moment. We started the first tapestry in 2001, so this is the climax of a decade of weaving. What’s so wonderful is that visitors will be able to step back in time and see what a Scottish royal palace was like in its heyday, when the tapestries, furnishings, furniture and decorations were colourful and new.”

A fifth tapestry is nearing completion and will be cut from the loom in Stirling this summer before joining the others in the palace. The last is due to be finished in 2013. Until this week the four tapestries have been on temporary display in the castle’s Chapel Royal.

Read more about Stirling Castle at
Sightseeing in Stirling

Stirling Castle Presents – a Palace Fit for a Queen

Tickets are now on sale for the grand opening of Stirling Castle’s Renaissance royal palace following a £12 million refurbishment. A magnificent weekend of celebrations are in store which will feature 60 costumed performers, lots of entertainments and – most important of all – a chance to be among the first to tour the palace.

Places are limited, and entry is by pre-purchased ticket only, to ensure everyone has the best possible experience and to avoid overcrowding. Historic Scotland is urging people to book their tickets as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

Gillian Macdonald, Stirling Castle executive manager, said: “It will be a real pleasure to welcome people into the royal apartments, which have been returned to how they might have looked when they were the childhood home of Mary Queen of Scots. Visitors will also be able to see our new exhibitions and interactive displays, and enjoy all sorts of activities from jesters, dancing and cooking to pike drill and sword fights. To make sure that everyone has the best possible experience we have to limit the numbers of visitors to the castle during the main events, so we would encourage people to buy their tickets early.”

The royal palace was built within the castle walls by James V, and probably only completed after his death in 1542. In 1543 it became home to the infant Mary Queen of Scots and her mother Mary of Guise. A visit to the palace offers the chance to step back into the world of the Scottish royal court in the 1540s.

The six refurbished apartments are beautifully decorated in fine Renaissance style, there are marvellous tapestries, wall hangings, embroideries and furnishings – all showing what a palace would have been like in its heyday. The reopening of the palace provides Scotland with another major attraction which, it is hoped, will help draw visitors from around the world.

The celebrations, entitled Stirling Castle Presents – a Palace Fit for a Queen, take place on 4 and 5 June.

Read more about Stirling Castle at
Sightseeing in Stirling

The African Queen

At the MacRobert, 8.15 pm on Thursday 12 May. A rare opportunity to see this timeless Hollywood classic on the big screen. Starring Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn and Robert Morley and based on the 1935 novel by C. S. Forester, John Huston's 1951 film, has been restored for its 50th anniversary.

At the outbreak of war in 1914, Bogart plays a boozed up riverboat captain in German east Africa who agrees to help British national Katharine Hepburn escape the enemy. The African Queen is the tale of two companions with mismatched, "opposites attract" personalities who develop an implausible love affair as they travel together downriver in Africa around the start of World War I. Adventure film making at it's best with comedy and romance besides.

SEE full details at
Whats On in Stirling

The Dumyat Challenge at the University of Stirling

A popular Stirling hill race which started as a bet and now doubles as the Scottish Championship event is under starter's orders for the 38th running. The scenic Dumyat Hill Race takes place on Wednesday (4 May) at the University of Stirling, attracting runners from all over Scotland.

First created when a university psychologist laid a £1 bet claiming the return trip from the Gannochy Pavilion to the top of the Dumyat was impossible in less than an hour, the challenging route comprises a 390 metre climb (1,280 feet) over an 8km (five mile) distance. On Graduation Day 1972 the £1 was lost by three minutes and following the first 'official race' in 1973, it has been held annually in May ever since.

A record turnout of almost 300 runners took on the testing challenge last year, with the men's event won by Murray Strain of Hunters Bog Trotters who led the field home in 33 minutes and 47 seconds. University of Glasgow student Jessica Martin took the women's title in a balanced 42 minutes and 42 seconds, while Stephen Winter, a Programmer and Analyst, was the first University of Stirling runner to cross the finish line. Angela Mudge, a Stirling graduate, holds the women's record of 36m 46s set in 2007 and the men's record, posted by Stirling student Iain Donnan, stands at an incredible 32m 52s.

Prizes are available across a number of categories, including awards for the University's first male and female runner. The race will also double as the Scottish Universities Hill Running Championship.

The 38th Dumyat Hill Race starts at 7pm on Wednesday 4 May 2011. Entries will be taken in the University of Stirling Sports Centre from 5.45pm-6.45pm on the evening of the race. Public entries cost £4 and £3 for students.

Festival of Museums – Frank About Football

Next weekend, 13-15 May, is the time of the brand new Festival of Museums. The Stirling Smith will be running the Frank Football Festival, comprising an exhibition of the work of Frank Boyle, the award-winning cartoonist of the Edinburgh Evening News, (opens 7.30pm, Friday 13) a lecture by Frank Boyle (11.00am Saturday 14) and a penalty kick competition, where visitors have the opportunity to score against Stirling Albion’s finest (2.- 4pm, Sunday 15).

The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum is the home to the world’s oldest football (1540), discovered in the rafters of the Queen’s Chamber in Stirling Castle. It is fitting that some of the world’s best football cartoons are produced by Stirling – born and bred artist Frank Boyle and the Smith welcomes the opportunity of the Festival of Museums to celebrate both. Culinary treats in store include the traditional pies, Bovril and caramel wafers.

The Festival of Museums is supported by Museums Galleries Scotland. It is about museums working together to celebrate Scotland’s living culture while simultaneously highlighting to people how museums and galleries offer great-value and free days out, all year round.

SEE full details at
Whats On at the Smith in Stirling

Stirling Tolbooth What's On Guide for April, May and June

A season packed full of the best in music and performance, along with regular classes and workshops for all ages. The rich mix on offer April to June includes the outstanding musicianship of Lau, an evening to get you dancing with a welcome return from Cuba’s Sierra Maestra, the class and imagination of the Red Note Ensemble, Three Blind Wolves, winner of Best Live Act at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards and the legendary Judy Collins on the only Scottish date of her tour.

SEE full details at Whats On at Stirling Tolbooth and find out the amazing artists who are heading to Stirling.


Stirling Tolbooth What's On Guide for April, May and June

A season packed full of the best in music and performance, along with regular classes and workshops for all ages. The rich mix on offer April to June includes the outstanding musicianship of Lau, an evening to get you dancing with a welcome return from Cuba’s Sierra Maestra, the class and imagination of the Red Note Ensemble, Three Blind Wolves, winner of Best Live Act at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards and the legendary Judy Collins on the only Scottish date of her tour.

SEE full details at Whats On at Stirling Tolbooth and find out the amazing artists who are heading to Stirling.

Scotland’s Garden Scheme

Gardens Open For Charity

West Plean House opens for its Daffodil Walk

On Sunday 24th April, for the third time this year, Tony and Moira Stewart will open their beautiful garden and daffodil walk at West Plean House. This well established garden includes the site of iron age homestead and panoramic views over seven counties. The woodland has mature rhododendrons, specimen trees, extensive lawns, shrubs and walled garden with a variety of vegetables. This time of year the woodland walk is stunning with its daffodils, azaleas and rhododendrons.

Admission is £4.00. The garden and walk is open from 2.00pm till 5.00pm in aid of Scotland’s Garden Scheme charities and Scottish Motor Neurone Disease Association. Cream teas on sale and dogs are welcome on a lead.

Directions for West Plean House: Leave all routes at Junction 9 roundabout where M9/M80 converge; Take the A872 for Denny; travel less than a mile, turn left at house sign and immediately after lodge cottage. Carry on up the drive.

Robin Williamson (Incredible String Band), James Yorkston and Christine Bovill

The Incredible String Band's Robin Williamson will be performing alongside James Yorkston and Christine Bovill in what is certain to be a stunning performance in Stirling on the 9th of April. Set in the historic Holy Rude Church in the heart of the city this is a one-off show which will blow you away. Come and support some amazing musicians in an awesome setting for only £10 or £8 concessions.

A Doune the Rabbit Hole Event.

Tickets at:

Doune Castle Offer

20% off admission at Doune Castle when you visit Stirling Castle!

From 1st April to 31st May 2011 receive 20% off admission to Doune Castle when you have visited Stirling Castle.

Visitors are entitled to 20% off admission for all members of their party with

proof of entry to Stirling Castle.

Discount can not be used in conjunction with any other offer.

Proof of entry to Stirling Castle is required.

Proof of entry must be dated within the last year.

The promotion will run from 1st April - 31st May 2011

Read more about Doune Castle at
Sightseeing in Stirling

The Works of Thomas Stuart Smith 1815 - 1869

T.S. Smith, the man whose bequest built the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, was a highly – talented artist as well as an art curator. All of his paintings, some 620 works are in the Stirling Smith. 26 paintings are on show in the present exhibition, including his famous anti-slavery picture, “The Pipe of Freedom” and his sumptuous “Italian Evening”.

The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum presents its founder's work in an exhibition that will run from 1 January to 10 April. Thomas Stuart Smith was an artist, collector and one-time Laird of Glassingall, an estate six miles north of Stirling near Kinbuck. After studying in France, he went on to create some controversial and revolutionary works, notably many portraits of black people, which was very rare at that time.

Smith bequeathed a large sum of money on his death and was responsible for the creation of the art gallery. Today the Stirling Smith has all of Thomas Stuart Smiths works and hopes that the people of Stirling will be interested in coming along to find out more about this major benefactor. Smith had intended to supervise the building of the gallery himself, but he died in Avignon is 1869, leaving his Trustees to manage his affairs.

SEE full details at
Whats On at the Smith in Stirling

University of Stirling lunchtime music recitals

The University of Stirling is delighted to announce the return of its lunchtime music recitals. This year's programme will be launched by Claire Garabedian, who will perform a solo cello recital of music by Bach, Gabrielli, Burns, Franchomme, and Minsky.

Claire Garabedian is well known as an accomplished baroque and modern cellist, and performed regularly with early music orchestras in the United States before moving to Scotland in 2007. Since then, she has performed with the acclaimed early music ensemble the Dunedin Consort based in Edinburgh.

Claire is also a certified music practitioner, and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Stirling in the School of Applied Social Science, where her research is focusing on the effects of live and recorded music on people nearing the end of life who have dementia and their primary carers. A frequent guest lecturer on music at the University of St. Andrews, Claire has also founded a community based baroque orchestra in at the University of St. Andrews. Claire received her Bachelor of Music from the New England Conservatory of Music, and her Master’s in Historical Performance at the Longy School of Music.

Claire’s baroque cello was built in 1702 in Holland by Pieter Rombouts. Her bow was made in Port Townsend, Washington by Christopher English. Her modern cello was built in 1877 in England by Henry Furber.

The peformance will take place on Friday 15 April, 1.10-1.50pm in Lecture Theatre D3, Pathfoot Building, University of Stirling. Admission is free and all are welcome.


The Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema

Scotland’s first silent film festival in Scotland’s first purpose-built cinema.

The Hippodrome cinema is hosting Scotland's first silent film festival over three jam-packed days, Friday 18 March - Sunday 20 March 2011 and is the perfect place to enjoy silent movies. Live musical accompaniment will provided over the weekend by Neil Brand.

The Hippodrome cinema in Bo'ness opened in 1912. It was a year that marked a shift in early movie production to the west coast of America. The years that followed saw stars like Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton become household names – and picture palaces like the Hippodrome were the places to see them. A rare example of pre-art deco cinema architecture, and Scotland's oldest purpose-built picture house, this beautiful building was re-opened in 2009 after a £2 million restoration project.

SEE full details at
Whats On in Stirling

First Minister Alex Salmond announces details of Renaissance Royal Palace opening event

First Minister Alex Salmond has revealed details of a weekend of celebrations to mark the opening of Stirling Castle’s Renaissance royal palace after a £12 million refurbishment. He made the announcement during a visit to the palace where he saw the first of the original 16th-century Stirling Heads being prepared for display in a specially-created gallery on the upper floor. At the same time he was introduced to costumed performers who will take part in the weekend event which is entitled Stirling Castle Presents – a Palace Fit for a Queen.

The First Minister also met some of the highly skilled traditional craftspeople who have played key roles in Historic Scotland’s project to return the royal apartments in the palace to how they may have looked in the 1540s.

Mr Salmond said: “I am delighted to announce what promises to be a great weekend of events to mark the opening of Stirling Castle’s Renaissance royal palace to the public. It’s a fitting opportunity to celebrate a real Scottish success story that will provide a significant boost to our tourism industry.

“A total of £12 million has been invested in transforming the palace interiors, creating a new gallery where the original Stirling Heads can go on permanent display, upgrading the main castle exhibition and introducing new interactive exhibits. This will undoubtedly attract many more visitors to the castle and also highlight everything else the area has to offer.

Stirling Castle Presents – a Palace Fit for a Queen will take place on 4th and 5th of June. It will be a specially ticketed event, with full public opening from Monday 6th. Numbers are being limited to avoid overcrowding and tickets will need to be bought in advance. Weekend opening hours will, though, be specially extended so those without tickets for the event will still be able to get in from 4pm, with the castle closing at 7pm.

The event will feature around 60 costumed performers putting on a range of displays, including everything from Renaissance cooking to medieval games. The main attraction will be the chance to be among the very first people to explore the sumptuously refurbished palace interiors – which have been richly decorated in the style of the 1540s.

The event will recall the years during which Mary of Guise, widow of James V, made the newly-completed palace the heart of the royal court – and where her young daughter Mary Queen of Scots was brought up before being sent to France. There will also be the chance to see the original Stirling Heads, which were removed from the ceiling of the King’s Inner Hall in 1777 and dispersed round Britain.

This will be the first time that all the survivors will have been together – and on public show – since the 18th century. Sometimes known as Scotland’s other crown jewels because of their superb craftsmanship, the heads are metre-wide oak medallions depicting kings, queens, emperors, Classical heroes and figures from the Scottish court. A replica set has been hand-carved and used to recreate the ceiling of the King’s Inner Hall, meaning visitors will be able to see how they would have looked when new.

Read more about Stirling Castle at
Sightseeing in Stirling

Unicorns and Eagles Herald New Era for Stiring Castle's Renaissance Palace

Some of Scotland’s most skilled embroiderers have completed majestic unicorns and eagles as part of the heraldry to be displayed in Stirling’s royal palace. The work involved detailed research and expert design followed by months of delicate cutting, shaping and sewing to recreate the heraldry of Mary of Guise, the widowed queen who resided at the palace in the 1540s. Each element has now been carefully stitched to handmade velvet and brocade backcloths, the larger measuring 3m long, to create cloths of estate which will hang in the Queen’s Inner Hall and the Queen’s Bedchamber.

The team was led by textile artist Professor Malcolm Lochhead, of Glasgow Caledonian University, who said: “There’s a great sense of achievement in completing pieces of work of this scale and complexity. We are looking forward to seeing them hung in the palace where they will help create a sense of what it was like to visit a Scottish Renaissance palace in its prime, when it was a busy place where royals and courtiers lived and worked."

The embroidery has been carried out, where practical, using traditional materials and skills and the designs were each approved by the Lord Lyon King of Arms, guardian of heraldry in Scotland. The embroiderers working with Malcolm were Eileen Rumble from near Dundee, Liz Boulton of Cumbernauld and Mary McCarron from South Lanarkshire.

Cloths of estate were of tremendous importance for the nobility in the medieval and Renaissance periods. They acted like personal branding for an individual, and their family, showing their pedigree and social rank – something that mattered a great deal in strictly hierarchical societies where so much was determined by birth, title or marriage. People looking at a cloth of estate would immediately be able to interpret the symbols and be able to judge their own position, and behaviour, in relation to the owner.

Anyone entering the Queen’s Inner Hall, and seeing a woman sat beneath a cloth of estate emblazoned with a shield bearing a red Scottish lion rampant and Guise cross of Jerusalem, supported by a unicorn and eagle, all topped by a crown, would know to bow very deeply indeed.

Mary was from one of the greatest noble houses in France and married into the Scottish royal family before her husband’s early death, aged 30, in late 1542 left her as dowager queen. She and her infant daughter, moved to the newly completed royal palace at Stirling Castle in 1543. Historic Scotland is close to completing a £12 million project, the centrepiece of which is the refurbishment of six royal apartments, returning them to how they may have looked in the mid-16th century.

Read more about Stirling Castle at
Sightseeing in Stirling

The Blend Stirling's Roots Music Festival 4 - 26 March

The Blend festival was set up and launched in 2003 as part of the newly opened Tolbooth’s commitment to the traditions of music. Over the past eight years the festival has developed a strong and important ethos and brand locally and nationally for supporting the continued development of Scottish traditional music. The festival has also nurtured a distinct focus on the other roots from around the world, juxtaposing world traditions with Scotland’s own. This year's The Blend Extra takes that even further.

Tolbooth, Jail Wynd, Stirling

James Grant with Karen Matheson
Friday 4 March 8pm

Unusual Prospects - the concertina
Saturday 5 March 1pm

Alejandro Ziegler tango quartet
Thursday 10 March 8pm

Blazin' Fiddles + support
Saturday 12 March 7.30pm

The Wiyos + Jarlath and Alana Henderson
Thursday 17 March 8pm

The Nordic Fiddler's Bloc
Friday 18 March 8pm

Les Freres Guisse with Coca Tenorio
Saturday 19 March 8pm

Hallaig: A Celebration of Sorley MacLean
Saturday 26 March 1.30pm

Facing the Atlantic - Julie Fowlis with Rosa Cedron
Sat 26 March 8pm

Tickets available from 01786 27 4000 or online from the Tolbooth website.

SEE full details at
Whats On at Stirling Tolbooth

Renaissance Defences rediscovered

Mary of Guise, widow of James V, is believed to have brought in European experts to apply the very latest Italian military engineering techniques at the castle in the 1540s. Archaeologists have discovered fragmentary remains of Stirling Castle’s once-mighty 16th-century outer defences.

Intermittent warfare with England, battling against Henry VIII, made it essential to have specially-designed fortifications to protect against the increasingly-sophisticated heavy artillery that could be used in a siege. Work to extend the castle’s main shop and ticket office have now revealed a section of walling which archaeologists identify as the remains of these walls. Our knowledge of the defences is limited and the new discovery will help with attempts to work out exactly where they stood. An engraving by John Slezer, published in Theatrum Scotiae in 1693, shows that the approach to the castle looked very different to how they do today.

The find has been welcomed by Fiona Hyslop, Minister for Culture and External Affairs. She said: “Right now we are heading towards the completion of a £12 million project to return the royal palace at Stirling Castle to how it may have looked in the mid 16th century. So, it’s exciting that archaeologists are discovering more clues about what the castle was like at the time when the palace was new.”

Experts believe that the outer defences may have been created at the same time as similar ones in Edinburgh. Peter Yeoman, Historic Scotland head of cultural resources, said: “The new discovery gives us a tantalising glimpse of the fortifications created for Mary of Guise, paid for by the French king Henri II, and probably designed by the same Italian engineer, Signor Ubaldini, who was working on a similar defensive spur at this time at Edinburgh Castle. They are of great interest because they were early examples of a changing approach to military engineering, and among the most advanced in the whole of the British isles."

The new military thinking involved creating huge earthworks, faced with thick strong walls, and built according to specific geometric designs, which would simultaneously act as gun platforms, while deflecting or absorbing the impact of incoming fire. Slezer’s engraving shows a fine example of this approach, a pyramidal structure called a talus, which was intended to protect against cannon fire. Knowing the line along which the walls ran may mean that the location of any buried remains of the talus, and other features, could one day be identified.

Read more about Stirling Castle at
Sightseeing in Stirling

Widely acclaimed author gives talk at the University of Stirling

Wednesday 16 March is a red-letter day for lovers of masterful writing – whether fiction or non-fiction, travel writing or poetry. For this is when acclaimed writer Andrew Greig will visit the University of Stirling to talk about his work and what inspires it. His talk – the first in a series by visiting writers – will be given in Room A96 of the Pathfoot Building on campus, beginning at 4pm. Entry is free, the event is open to the public and no pre-booking is required. The visiting writers series is hosted by the Department of English Studies at the University’s School of Arts and Humanities.

Andrew Greig was born in Bannockburn in 1951 and grew up in Anstruther, Fife. He now lives with his wife in Orkney and South Queensferry. Educated at the University of Edinburgh, he is a former Glasgow University Writing Fellow and Scottish Arts Council Scottish/Canadian Exchange Fellow. His writings cover fiction and non-fiction, travel and poetry, with many of his books winning prestigious awards – such as the 2004 Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award for In Another Light – and one novel The Return of John McNab (1996) being filmed for the BBC.

Andrew is the author of six acclaimed books of poetry, two Himalayan mountaineering expedition books, and five novels including That Summer, When They Lay Bare, In Another Light (Scottish Book of the Year) and Romanno Bridge. His non-fiction book, Preferred Lies, is regarded as a contemporary classic. His latest work At the Loch of the Green Corrie was published last year to huge critical acclaim. A moving account of a fishing trip to honour a wish made by the celebrated poet Norman McCaig before his death, the book becomes a meditation on life, nature and friendship, as well as a literary biography and a celebration of the beauty of the Highlands of Scotland.

More recently, Andrew joined comedian Billy Connolly and musician and academic Ally Bain, in ‘Fishing for Poetry’, a BBC documentary which paid tribute to McCaig’s life and work.

Speaking of the writer’s coming visit, Professor Kathleen Jamie, Chair of Creative Writing at the University’s Department of English Studies said: “It's a great pleasure to be able to welcome Andrew Greig to Stirling University - a local lad, who has travelled far. “He is one of Scotland's most celebrated writers; a fine lyric poet, a master story-teller, and a lover of landscapes. Through his many publications, we trust Andrew Greig to map the secrets of the human heart, and to reveal our country - and our selves - to us. This will be an enriching event.”


Free entry and a fun day out at heritage attractions around Stirling

Thousands of free tickets to some of the country’s finest and most fascinating heritage attractions are being offered in Historic Scotland’s special Spring promotion. The great ticket giveaway enables free admission on either Saturday 12th or Sunday 13th March to a huge range of outstanding historic properties and sites throughout Scotland. These include Stirling Castle, Doune Castle, and Castle Campbell.

Minister for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop MSP, said: “Scotland boasts a wealth of wonderful historic properties; they are an invaluable national asset. I firmly believe we should all make the most of this important part of our heritage by experiencing and enjoying these superb sites and Historic Scotland’s ticket giveaway provides an opportunity to do just that. I hope as many people as possible will take advantage of this excellent chance to explore one of Scotland’s great heritage treasures and enjoy a free and memorable day out.”

Historic Scotland Head of Commercial and Visitor Operations Stephen Duncan said: “Our last free admission promotion in November unfortunately coincided with dreadful winter weather when many of our attractions were forced to close or limit opening hours. We hope that this special Spring ticket giveaway will give the Scottish public another chance to visit a great historic attraction for free.

The first Scotland International Tango Festival

18th-21st February 2011

The first Scotland International Tango Festival is being held in the historic City of Stirling. The Festival will take place at the luxurious Management Centre set in the beautiful Airthrey Castle Estate at Stirling University. A fabulous setting with first class leisure facilities. With 6 of Argentina’s leading Maestros, workshops for all levels, milongas, performances, one of Europe’s leading DJs and much more, the first Scotland International Argentine Tango Festival promises to be an amazing experience.

One of the highlights of the Festival will be the Braveheart Winter Ball, a grand event featuring renowned DJ Ariel Yuryevic, live music and dance performances. Choose from 26 workshops (for complete beginners right through to masterclasses) taught by international maestros from Buenos Aires: Ariadna Naveira & Fernando Sanchez, Aldo Romero & Ana Lia Carrizo, Enrique Ringa & Marion Krauthaker.

The Workshops will run throughout the weekend in the same venue and are complemented by the Festival Lounge, a place to relax, socialise or dance.

For a complete list of events visit the website at:

Volunteer for Forthside wood action day

Stirling Council Countryside Service is looking for volunteers to help improve Forthside Wood. Volunteers are needed to help thin out some trees on Wednesday 9 February 2011, from 10am to 3pm at the local beauty spot.

Forthside Wood was planted up a while ago, to improve the habitat for songbirds and people too but the trees are now at a stage where they need thinned-out or in some cases removed. The improvement work will benefit the remaining trees and open up the view once again over the River Forth and across the Carse.

Thinning the trees allows light to the woodland floor, which encourages new trees and plants to grow, ensuring trees of varied ages and increase the biodiversity of the site. As the trees are thinned, the branches will be piled up into minibeast hotels.

Booking for the Action Day is essential and please wear appropriate clothing, sturdy boots and bring work gloves if you have them. Tools, gloves and other protective clothing will be provided. Refreshments will also be provided but don’t forget to bring a packed lunch if you’re coming along for the whole day.

Please phone: 01786 442 464 or 817 511 to book your place.

From Stirling Council website

National Nest Box Week

National Nest Box Week, is launched every year on Valentine's Day. This year, Stirling Council Countryside Service is offering people the chance to make their own bird box. The event will run from 10am until 2pm on Monday 14th February in the City Centre. The aim of National Nest Box Week is to encourage as many people as possible to put up nest boxes in order to help our breeding birds and other wildlife.

The natural nest sites, on which many of our bird species depend, such as holes in trees and buildings, are fast disappearing as gardens and woods are ‘tidied’ and old houses are repaired. Since National Nest Box Week was launched in 1997 it is estimated that there are now 5-6 million boxes in gardens across the UK.

“Sadly, many of the natural nesting places of our favourite garden birds are disappearing as houses are renovated and trees are tidied up," said Guy Harewood, Stirling's Biodiversity Coordinator, "Nest boxes are an easy way to help and I would encourage everyone to put up a box in their garden, on their home, at school or at work. A nest box can give you great pleasure as you get to see wild birds set up home. If you put up a box during Nest Box Week you stand a chance of having a nesting pair of birds in your garden by spring, such as robins, blue tits, sparrows and wrens."

The Countryside Service provides a whole range of events for people of all ages and abilities. They are a great way to discover nature, explore new areas and enjoy the health benefits of being out and about. Children are welcome at all our events but an adult must supervise under 16’s at all times.

To guarantee that you will be able to make a bird box you must book in advance. For further information about the events and to book –please call 08452 777 000.

From Stirling Council website


Metropolis 1927

At the end of this month, there is a rare opportunity to see the 1927 science fiction masterpiece Metropolis at Stirling University's MacRobert film theatre. This is a restored version of a near complete 16mm copy which was recently discovered in Buenos Aires. Premiered earlier this year at the Berlin international film festival, Fritz Lang’s 1927 sci-fi epic can finally be seen as the director originally intended and as seen by German cinema-goers in 1927.

An epic projection of a futuristic city divided into a working and an elite class. Using a cast of more than 30,000 extras, innovative models and camera tricks to create its city of the future, Metropolis took two years to shoot and bankrupted its producers.

Metropolis depicts a dystopian future in which society is divided in two and while anonymous workers conduct their endless drudgery below ground their rulers enjoy a decadent life of leisure and luxury. When Freder (Gustav Fröhlich) ventures into the depths in search of the beautiful Maria (Brigitte Helm in her debut role), plans of rebellion are revealed and a Maria-replica robot is programmed by mad inventor Rotwang and master of Metropolis Joh Fredersen to incite the workers. As Freder races against time to save Maria and curtail the damage done by her doppelganger robot, Metropolis is enveloped in chaos and the classes are brought together in a breathtaking and highly moralistic climax.

With stunningly inventive special effects, Lang's allegorical narrative and architectural vision creates a highly stylized vision of the future.

Monday 31 January and Tuesday 1 February at 7.30pm
Telephone: 01786 466666

SEE full details at
Whats On in Stirling

Recreation of lost renaissance royal palace masterpiece unveiled

Back in the 1540s the ceiling of the King’s Inner Hall, in the royal palace of James V at Stirling Castle, was decorated with magnificent oak carvings showing the faces of kings, queens, lords, ladies, Roman emperors and ancient heroes. But the ceiling was taken down in 1777 – some of the carvings were destroyed and the rest ended up scattered throughout Scotland and England.

Known as the Stirling Heads, 34 of these metre-wide oak medallions have survived, and six years ago an initiative got underway to make a full set of copies to redecorate the ceiling in glorious, colourful 16th century style. This has now been completed and the King’s Inner Hall is once again rich with images of historical figures including James V, his French queen Mary of Guise, Henry VIII of England and Julius Caesar.

Historic Scotland is returning the palace to how it may have looked when it was home to the royal court and this spectacular ceiling will be among the main attractions of the palace when it opens later this year. The £12 million palace project also involves creating a special gallery on the upper floor of the palace where the original Stirling Heads will be on display.

Peter Buchanan, Stirling Castle Palace Project Manager, said: “We’ve been looking forward to this moment for a long time – the new versions of the heads took five years to carve and since then a great deal of work has been done to create the ceiling and get the painting just right. The original ceiling was a masterpiece of Scottish Renaissance art and craftsmanship and our recreation is designed to be just as impressive."

It has taken four painters around three months to complete the heads, using materials and techniques as close as possible to those of the 16th century. One of the main aims was to use the paint to bring out the tremendous quality of the carving and to give the strongest possible three-dimensional effect. The work was carried out with the heads already fixed to the ceiling, so the artists would know exactly how they would appear to viewers on the ground.

The new heads were hand-carved by Livingston-based master craftsmen John Donaldson. Mr Donaldson said: “Carving new versions of the Stirling Heads was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the new ceiling looks absolutely stunning. It’s quite a feeling to have your work included in a project of this scale and importance and which will hopefully be enjoyed by millions of visitors for many decades to come.”

The original heads were commissioned by James V, as part of the scheme to build a new palace which celebrated his marriage to Mary of Guise, it is uncertain if he ever saw the ceilings completed. The king died, aged just 30, in December 1542 when the building was probably still being finished – leaving his widow with a baby girl less than a week old. The following year Mary of Guise and the infant Mary, Queen of Scots arrived at Stirling, which became their main residence until the ‘Little Queen’ was sent to the French court to keep her safe from the English in 1548.

Historic Scotland has produced a short film about the French and Scottish painters who are returning the palace to how it may have looked in the 1540s. This can be viewed at

Read more about Stirling Castle at
Sightseeing in Stirling

Wandering - Prints and mixed media works by Clare Yarrington

In a new exhibition at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, art meets archaeology and geology, rock climbing, coasts, islands, mountains and other wild places in Scotland. Clare Yarrington’s first chosen profession was that of archaeologist. She then went to Art College, followed by a decade as an Archaeology Illustrator with Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums.

In 2009, Clare won the John Duncan Fergusson Award, with a major exhibition in the Fergusson Gallery, Perth. The vibrant colours of her work echo the Colourism of Fergusson himself.

"I am interested in how our environment has been formed and how we interact with it. This relationship is dynamic and involves not only the elemental forces of nature but also our perception of time."

There will be an artist’s talk in the Gallery by Clare Yarrington at 12 noon on Wednesday 19 January 2011.

Whats On around Stirling

Photographic Exhibition honours the role of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in the History of Stirling Castle

From 1881 to 1964 Stirling Castle was at the heart of life for new recruits to The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Thousands of young men left their civilian identities at the drawbridge and entered the castle to undergo the basic training that would prepare them for life in one of Scotland’s most celebrated military units.

Historic Scotland and the museum have now created a temporary exhibition exploring this fascinating period which includes the Boer War, both world wars and the National Service era. Many of the photographs have never been on public display before.

As a special offer, members of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Association can have free entry to the castle for the duration of the exhibition. They simply have to show their membership card. For all other visitors the exhibition is included in the standard ticket price for the castle.

Until 31 January at Stirling Castle in the Nether Bailey. Entry to the museum is included in the entry cost to the castle.

SEE full details at
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