The Out About Scotland complete guide to the National Wallace Monument near Stirling
Category: Historic building, Monument, Museum
Suitable for ages: 5 to 10 years, 11 to 18 years, 18+ years, 65+ years
Ideal for: Couples, Families, Groups, Solo travellers
I rate it: 9 out of 10
About 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 out 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 cafe 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.
What I liked about this attraction
- The views from the top are fantastic
- It’s much bigger than I was expecting, and has some interesting exhibitions inside
- It’s really good for learning about Scotland’s history and the story of William Wallace
My top tips
- The café is good but pricey. Save some money by eating in Stirling instead
- Combine a visit here with Stirling Castle which is just a 10-minute drive away
Photos and video
Address and map
Prices and opening times
|Senior Citizen (aged 60+)||£8.50|
|Child (under 16)
(Children must be accompanied by an adult)
|Family (2 adults & 2 children)||£27.50|
|Family (1 adult & up to 3 children)||£23.50|
|Family (2 adults & 3 children)||£34.00|
|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|
Getting there: Car park on-site
Getting around: Easy-access paths, Disabled access, Pushchair access (around the grounds); Stairs (in the monument)
On-site conveniences: Gift shop, Hot drinks, Restaurant or cafe, Snacks, Toilets
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