For over 150 years The National Wallace Monument has fascinated visitors with its exhibits that tell the story of Sir William Wallace. The monument is situated on a hill overlooking Stirling and stunning views of the surrounding countryside can be seen from the viewing platform at the top.
Inside the monument are a series of rooms that feature interactive displays about Wallace and his battles, while a superb café and gift shop can be found at the attraction’s entrance.
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 stunning monument that’s much bigger up close than you might expect, and in my opinion 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 children 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.
If you would like to see more attractions in Stirling check out the Central Scotland archives.
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 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 Scottish foot soldiers were cut down.
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 knight.
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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 which means you get to go back and experience the ever-changing list of events that are held throughout the year.
On most days there are historical re-enactments of the conflicts between the English and the Scots, and actors can be seen walking around the 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 great 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 in Scotland.
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 and the woodland path that leads to it from the car park is much longer than you initially think it will be. I visited during spring when the woodland was ablaze with wildflowers and it was so nice I walked the route twice!
- The monument is absolutely enormous and it has some genuinely fascinating displays inside it that all ages will enjoy interacting with.
- There’s a superb educational element to this attraction so it’s ideal for introducing youngsters to Scotland’s history and the story of William Wallace. The costumed guides really bring the monument to life as well.
- The café is good but a bit pricey (like all tourist attractions I guess), but you can always save money by eating in Stirling instead. Driving from the Wallace Monument to Stirling Castle takes around 10-minutes.
- Combine a visit to the monument with the Bannockburn Visitor Centre which is 5 miles away. It’s managed by the National Trust for Scotland and you can get free admission with an NTS membership.
- Doune Castle (filming site of lots of TV series and Holywood blockbusters) is a 20-minute drive away and is also worth visiting.
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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.
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.