We stopped at Blackness Castle late in the day, and we got there just to enjoy the sunset! We especially appreciated it for its beautiful location - at the time that it was built, a strategic decision - on the sea. The castle offers great views over the Firth Rail Bridge, the red bridge that was the first in the world built entirely of steel. It's possible to go inside, but you have to pay for admission.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the vast majority of UK cities were developing what would come to be known as their Councils, so you can find a number of buildings constructed around this time for governmental purposes. In the case of Falkirk, some of these buildings are still in operation, like the Civil Records Building, while others have been sold, like the old town hall that is now a funeral home. In the city of Stirling, these buildings are the most elegant and majestic in the city. In most cases they can not be visited (with some exceptions, like libraries) but it's well worth checking out their architecture, which can look like the set of a horror movie for southern Europeans!
Not long ago, department stores simply didn't exist, so the daily life of a city had to be developed around markets and High Streets. Superstores have almost finished off the traditional weekly markets, but many local governments have fought back to revive them. In Falkirk, you'll find plenty of shops with interesting historical components to be discovered by the visitor. In the center of the city, you'll find the oldest church, a series of typical medieval alleys, and cemeteries with illustrated graves. All good reasons to support the revival of the town center!
Here, you can find the old church of Falkirk (Falkirk Auld Kirk / Old Church) and the Church of St. Modans (Calvinist / Church of Scotland). There are also the remains of the historic cemetery. Historically, there is evidence that this was a place of worship in the seventh century which subsequently led to the Catholic Church formation. In 1298, the Battle of Falkirk took place, where William Wallace lost the battle against the English, including Sir Lawrence Dundas and Sir John Stewart, two of the fallen in battle. The present church was built in 1450 and an octagonal bell tower was added in 1733. It is not the most impressive church but its architecture is quite unique and different from others of the same age in the area. Some items are original, such as the shield on one of the ancient gates of entry. In my view, the most prominent is the old cemetery and the remains of the old church, but this is a matter of preference. One of the jewels in the center of Falkirk area not to be overlooked, one of the most historic buildings throughout the city.
There are many details in the film Braveheart which are either invented or are completely unknown. One of the features of the battles fought by William Wallace was the loss of his right hand men. At the Battle of Stirling Bridge, Sir Andrew Murray lost his life, and Sir John de Graeme was killed in the Battle of Falkirk. Unlike in the case of Murray, Graeme's tomb is still preserved, and is one of the most historically interesting places in the city.
It was restored in the Victorian era, a time of revived Scottish nationalist sentiment. Today it is protected by a fence, and you can see a replica of Graeme's sword. Once again it's a bit funny how this corner of such historical importance is almost unnoticed. It is worth remembering the only historical record that describes the arrival of the body of Sir John de Graeme: "Fawkyrk graith'd Intp him in sepoulture" ... yes, it was better to be Wallace's left hand, as they always remained alive!
Literally the "Royal Court" or "King's Court", this is one of the most representative examples of the structure of Falkirk in medieval times. The main street was connected to numerous alleys like this one, each dominated by traders belonging to different guilds. Obviously, this has changed with the passage of time, but in the center of Falkirk you can still see some good examples. These alleys have been refurbished as social spaces, with tea shops, coffee shops and similar businesses. A great example of how to conserve old buildings, while bringing them up to date!
The Antonine Wall was built in 140 AD during the reign of Antoninus Pius, as a northern defense much like the more famous Hadrian's Wall to the south. It was a lot lower than Hadrian's Wall, and surrounded by ditches or dikes. The most obvious archaeological evidence of the wall is found in the Watling Lodge area of Falkirk, but there are no visible remains of the wall itself. However, excavations are ongoing. It should have happened long ago, but hey, better late than never!