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Last updated on March 22nd, 2021
For over 145 years The National Wallace Monument has fascinated visitors with its exhibits and displays that tell the story of Sir William Wallace. The monument is located in woodland close to Stirling Castle.
Review of the National Wallace Monument
The National Wallace Monument stands high on the shoulder of the Abbey Craig, a hilltop overlooking the surrounding Stirling countryside and the imposing Ochil Hills.
Visible for miles in every direction, the monument has been enjoyed by visitors for over 150 years since the very first foundation stone was installed in 1861 by the Duke of Atholl.
As the centre of remembrance for William Wallace – the 13th-century Scottish knight who was instrumental in the Wars of Scottish Independence – the National Wallace Monument is frequently described as Scotland’s national landmark.
It’s a fascinating structure and one that’s much bigger up close than you might expect and I’d say it’s a must-visit attraction if you’ve got any interest in Scotland’s history.
As part of the 2019 150th anniversary the monument was refurbished and the three exhibition galleries were completely revamped with a new animation about Wallace’s role in the Wars of Independence and a reconstruction of how Stirling would have looked at the time of the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297.
There are also new activities for kids to get interested in history including a fun interactive shield design exhibit and a superheroes quiz, all of which go towards making a visit to the National Wallace Monument a top family day out.
Things to do at the National Wallace Monument
The story of the monument begins with Wallace himself when he defeated the English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297.
At the time Scotland was being oppressed by King Edward I of England and as Wallace gained power in Scotland the invading King Edward ordered a force of heavy cavalry to subdue Wallace and his supporters.
The English horsemen were forced to ride two-abreast as they crossed Stirling Bridge and Wallace cunningly trapped them at the front and behind with his troops, causing the English to retreat while those trapped between the foot soldiers were slaughtered by the Scottish forces.
Today, the area where this decisive battle happened is much quieter (thankfully) and it’s the perfect location to have a monument to Scotland’s most famous patriot.
The city of Stirling lies just a short distance away and it’s possible to combine a visit to the Wallace Monument with the formidable Stirling Castle, both of which have enough activities to keep tourists entertained for most of the day.
Entrance to the Wallace Monument includes free re-entry for a full 12 months afterwards which means you get to go back and experience the ever-changing list of events that are held throughout the year, and although seeing the monument is the reason most people visit the site there are plenty of other reasons to make the journey.
On most days there are historical re-enactments of the conflicts between the English and the Scots, and actors can be regularly seen walking around the outside grounds in full battle dress with mighty swords in hand.
There are also lovely woodlands to explore as you make your way up the winding path to the monument, with diverging routes through the broad-leafed trees that offer a brilliant place for the kids to run about.
The National Wallace Monument itself comprises a winding staircase which leads up to three main rooms; the Hall of Arms, the Hall of Heroes and the Royal Chamber.
Each room offers a different theme, with the Hall of Arms concentrating on the story of the Wars of Independence with various displays showing the ancient weapons and armour that were used over 700 years ago.
The Hall of Heroes contains marble busts of famous Scots like Robert Burns and Robert the Bruce, while the Royal Chamber is full of facts and figures about this famous national landmark.
The last thing you’ll experience at the monument is The Crown, which is a large viewing platform right at the top that has fantastic views across the wide-open Stirlingshire countryside.
At the end of your visit you can pick up a memento or two in the shop that’s located on the bottom floor of the monument, and a really good café at the site entrance offers a selection of snacks, hot food and drinks if you’ve worked up an appetite by the end of it all.
Find more historic attractions with my Historic Places to Visit articles.
- The views from the top of the monument are fantastic.
- It’s much bigger than you might be expecting and it has some genuinely interesting exhibitions inside.
- It’s really good for learning about Scotland’s history and the story of William Wallace. The costumed guides really bring the monument to life.
- The café is good but pricey. Save some money by eating in Stirling instead. If you want to save money on tickets for Scotland’s historic attractions get a Historic Environment Scotland membership.
- Combine a visit here with Stirling Castle which is just a 10-minute drive away or give the kids a treat and drive up the A84 to Blair Drummond Safari Park.
- Doune Castle (filming site of lots of TV series and Holywood blockbusters) is a 20-minute drive away and is also worth visiting.
Things to do near the National Wallace Monument
- Stirling Castle. Castle Wynd, Stirling FK8 1EJ. 10-minute drive. One of the most significant historic buildings in Scotland. This 12th-century castle and Renaissance royal palace features a great hall, restored royal apartments, a regimental museum, a café, a gift shop and more.
- Cambuskenneth Abbey. Ladysneuk Rd, Cambuskenneth, Stirling FK9 5NG. 5-minute drive. Category A listed building built in the 1300s. It is 64 feet high and has an interesting collection of medieval artefacts inside, although visitors should note it is only open in summer.
- Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum. 40 Albert Pl, Stirling FK8 2RQ. 8-minute drive. A superb art gallery and museum in the centre of Stirling that aims to entertain and educate visitors with a collection of artworks and artefacts from Stirling and the surrounding area. There is a garden and a café on-site.
- The King’s Knot. 8-minute drive. A large green space below Stirling Castle that was once the recreation area for royalty. At one time formal gardens were laid in the park but now only the earthworks remain. The much larger King’s Park recreation area is located on the other side of Dumbarton Road.
- Blair Drummond Safari Park. Blair Drummond, Stirling FK9 4UR. 14-minute drive. One of the largest safari parks in Scotland. Blair Drummond is guaranteed to enthral visitors with its enclosures that are home to more than 350 exotic animals. There are play parks, a pets farm, a boat safari a restaurant and much more on the site.
Address and map
Tickets and opening times
|January & February||10.00am – 4.00pm|
|March||10.00am – 5.00pm|
|April to June||9.30am – 5.00pm|
|July & August||9.30am – 6.00pm|
|September & October||9.30am – 5.00pm|
|November & December||10.00am – 4.00pm|
|Last admission – 45 mins prior to closing|
- Telephone: (01786) 472140
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: The National Wallace Monument Homepage
Photos and video
More places to visit in Central Scotland
- Loch Leven – Kinross: Complete Visitor GuideLoch Leven is a large expanse of water situated in the rural Scottish county of Perth and Kinross. The National Nature Reserve is renowned for the number of wildfowl that live there and in fact, it’s home to more breeding ducks than anywhere else in Europe.
- Culross – Fife: Complete Visitor GuideThe historic village of Culross is situated on the banks of the Firth of Forth where it overlooks the petrochemical works of Grangemouth to the south and the Longannet power station to the west.
- Ben Lawers – Perth & Kinross: Complete Visitor GuideScotland’s 10th-highest Munro is one of Central Scotland’s most popular tourist hotspots, famed not only for the fantastic walks to the massif summit but also for the wonderful views visitors get to enjoy along the way.
- Schiehallion Mountain – Perthshire: Complete Visitor GuideSchiehallion mountain lies between Loch’s Tay, Rannoch, and Tummel roughly 10 miles north-west of Aberfeldy in Perthshire, and it’s renowned amongst Scotland’s hillwalkers as being one of the easiest Munro’s to ‘bag’ in the country.
- The Hermitage Forest – Perthshire: Complete Visitor GuideThere are over 200,000 acres of woodland in Perthshire so you’re pretty much spoilt for choice if you ever visit the region and fancy taking a walk, but in my opinion one of the best forests is Tay Forest Park, home of The Hermitage.