11 Feb. 2000 - Stirling, Scotland - John De Grahame with Wallace bled, He fell at Falkirk, the Templar Dead...
John De Grahame, Member of the Knights Templar and supporter of William Wallace died at the battle of Falkirk so many years ago, yet the ruin of his castle was a special place today during our tour of Grahame and Buchanan territory.
To get to the area you have to "Go Out of The World Into Kippen" as the locals say. The phrase was coined when some of King James V's men went out to hunt deer. They bagged one and when heading back were caught and told they had to turn over the deer because they were on Buchanan lands. To this the kings hunters said no "We are the kings hunters." The story goes the Laird then uttered the famous line "You've gone out of the world into Kippen." King James after hearing this dressed in a disguise and went over to the Buchanan castle to enjoy some of HIS venison, after which he commented to his subject something about this "kingdom of his."
The buildings faded away very quickly, replaced by heather and a spine encrusted bush with small yellow flowers called Whin, or Furze in English. It's nasty stuff, the spines are long and nasty. During the last century farmers used to grind it up and feed their cows with it in the wintertime.
Culcreauch is nearby, home of the Napier's of Merchiston, a line connected to the Stirling family. We pass through Kippen, then Fintry, out into the rough foothills between Glasgow and Stirling. The castle would have been impossible to find except for our expert guide and historian Bob McCutcheon.
When I got out of the car the remoteness of the spot, and the bone chilling wind buzzing our ears and nearby trees at over 40 miles per hour was the first thing I noticed. The pass up to this spot from Falkirk was heavily defended during the battle of Falkirk by Robert the Bruce, as this was his escape route in case something bad happened that day. All that remains of this 13th century castle is the rocky outcrop of a few out buildings and the definition of the spot where the castle stood and the moat. There are canyons and passes on three sides, you can clearly see why a castle was here securing this spot so long ago.
But there is more here. Much More. 650 years and more. Bruce, Wallace, Sir John were here. Men who would not be bought, who lead by deed and example those who a few years later would say -
"For So Long As A Hundred of us remain alive, we will yield in no way to English dominion, for we fight, not for glory nor for riches or honour, but only and alone for freedom, which no man surrenders but with his life." (Excerpt from the ARBROATH DECLARATION,1320)
The time will come for Scotland to truly gain her freedom spoken of, not the paper, kinda-sorta-clandestine-pous paux mess they have now. Come out here among the heather and the "Whin" and you'll see it yourself. No tour bus will bring you here, in fact you will need directions at the very least. But for me this spot is one of the most "Scottish" and memorable of all the places I've visited the three times I've been here. Next time I better bring gloves, man is it cold out today!
Many of you have asked where to stay, eat and research in preparation for your own trips to Stirling. First and foremost, stay in Stirling! The energy and emotions of staying in this wonderful town is a real highlight of any trip, whether to conduct serious research, or as a stop on a vacation tour.
PLACES TO STAY
The Golden Lion hotel is very convenient, but you pay for it, it's quite expensive. The hotel is located in King Street, just down from the resource center and Public Library.
The Golden Lion and `Clarence'
While here in 1998 my family and I stayed with Eddie & Moira McPhail's bed and breakfast inn at #8 Pitt Terrace, Stirling, Scotland FK8 2EZ. Tel. 01786-472675. Eddie and Moira have a wonderful 1830's bed and breakfast less than a five minute walk from the middle of the town. Their prices are reasonable, and you will be well looked after. This is a quiet and mature B&B, and they are personal friends of ours. We saw first hand a number of less than hospitable guests while staying there in 1998, please represent Clan Stirling fairly with them. If you are looking for a place to party, this isn't it. If you stay here, please say hello.
PLACES TO EAT - THE BEST SPOTS
- Italian Food - Bella Pasta
- India - Indian Restaurant across from Golden Lion Hotel on King Street - (EXTREMELY GOOD!)
- Steak & Kidney Pie - Hogshead on Baker Street
- Fish N Chips - Place in Bridge of Allan. Ask any local resident ,they will know and direct you. This place has won awards as best Fish N Chips in Scotland and is a MUST!
THE STIRLING LIBRARY
The public Library reference section has a good number of biographies and materials that will assist in your research. The reference section is located on the first floor, which means the second floor to most Americans. The first floor to us from North America is known as the ground floor here. The local collections are protected, ask the staff for help. Computers for Internet use, Word Processing, and a copy machine are also available in this part of the library.
RESOURCE CENTER (right,below)
This is a good place to stop the day you arrive. The staff can let you know about local events like the Stramash show I went to last week, and answer any questions you may have about the town. They also have a computer available for rent to access the Internet, or fax machines and more general information. If it's cold and rainy out, it's also a great place to visit and warm up a little.
THE BOOK SHOP - 51 Baker Street
If there is a gold mine in Stirling this is the place. After you check into your hotel or B&B, you need to head here and talk to Bob and Barbara. SERIOUSLY! Bob has more knowledge about the Stirling area than anyone else, and is well known in this town. His help and assistance has been priceless for Clan Stirling. They are special friends of ours, please say hello, and enjoy browsing in their amazing bookshop.
(Editors Note: After many years Bob & Barbara Mc Cutcheon retired in 2001 and closed the book shop. This book shop will always be one of my foundest memories, Cheri and I will never forget the day we first walked in and met Bob & Barbara.)
TOMORROW - A TRIP TO BALDERNOCK, AND A SCOTTISH FOOTBALL (SOCCER) MATCH!