May 20 2011 by Donald Morton, Stirling Observer Friday
ONE of Stirling’s iconic buildings will be celebrating a special anniversary next month.
And everybody is being invited along to a six-month-long “birthday party”.
The 150th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone at the Wallace Monument will be marked this year by a series of special events at the famous landmark atop the Abbey Craig.
On June 24, 1861 scores of men, women and children travelled from all across Scotland to Stirling, and a crowd of more than 100,000 people thronged the Abbey Craig, where the ceremony of laying the foundation stone for the monument took place.
As the event reached a spectacular climax, music rang out from more than 40 participating bands, and a salute of artillery was discharged from the ramparts of Stirling Castle.
Now in 2011, the National Wallace Monument stands as a testament to the high esteem in which William Wallace is still held, and on June 24 this year, the first 150 visitors will each receive a gift of a commemorative medal, specially minted to mark the occasion, and replicating the one originally produced for the laying of the foundation stone in 1861.
All visitors arriving at the monument that day will also receive a special souvenir certificate and the first medals will be presented by Stirling Provost Fergus Wood.
To mark this important anniversary, a programme of special events at the monument will feature regular presentations by costumed actors who will bring to life the story of Wallace's triumph over the forces of Edward I, and who will re-enact important episodes from the life of the man once acclaimed as “Guardian of Scotland”.
The programme begins next weekend (May 28-30) with "A Walk with Wallace” when visitors will be able to join a footsoldier from Wallace's army for a walk through the woods of the Abbey Craig, to meet William Wallace in person. This will also take placce on July 1-3.
On June 24, the events of 150 years ago will be recalled, when historians will tell the amazing story of how the monument came to be built. To set the scene, entertainers and musicians will create the atmosphere of a day out in Victorian times.
From August 19-16, “Encounter with Wallace” features dramatic performances of scenes from the life of Wallace and will mark the anniversary of his execution in London on August 23, 1305.
The anniversary of the Battle of Stirling Bridge will be commemorated on September 10-11 with interactive presentations from costumed actors, telling the story of the battle from the vantage point of the Abbey Craig.
During the school holidays of October 17-28 there will be special activities, including games and quizzes for children.
And on St Andrew's Weekend (November 26-27), all visitors to the monument will enjoy free admission.
There’ll also be falconry displays with birds of prey at the monument during the Walk with Wallace and Battle of Stirling Bridge weekends, making these occasions especially memorable for visitors.