Stirling Provost Christine Simpson unlocked a new era in the history of the National Wallace Monument yesterday (11 Sep) as the world-famous landmark celebrated its 150th anniversary.
Provost Christine Simpson holding a ceremonial key as the National Wallace Monument's 150th anniversary celebrations get underway.

The Provost opened the doors on the iconic attraction to visitors with a ceremonial key, kicking-off an exciting programme of activities throughout the day to mark the special milestone.

This included a Guided Walk to The Battle of Stirling Bridge Battlefield, scene of Wallace’s famous victory, led by Dr Murray Cook, Stirling Council’s Archaeologist.

The event concluded in the evening with live music and a spectacular light display, with the Monument illuminated by animated projections and bursts of fireworks.

Ahead of the anniversary, the Council invested £515,000 for essential repairs to its stonework and exterior, including a seven-month restoration project on the historic William Wallace Statue.

Stirling District Tourism, the charity that operates The National Wallace Monument (on behalf of Stirling Council), funded a £500,000 renovation of the Monument's interior exhibition spaces.

A special place in all our hearts

Provost Christine Simpson said: “It was an honour to represent the people of Stirling as one of the city’s most iconic landmarks celebrated its 150th anniversary.

“The National Wallace Monument is a world-famous attraction, bringing in visitors from across the globe to Stirling to discover the story of Scotland’s national hero, and it holds a special place in all our hearts.

“I would like thank everyone involved in the extensive restoration and refurbishment work on the Monument, ensuring that it is in peak condition for this week’s celebrations and safeguarded for future generations to enjoy.”

One of the most challenging parts of the external refurbishment of the Monument was the vital restoration of the 132-year-old bronze Wallace Statue.

The Council invested £260,000 in the painstaking project, which saw the 14ft figure of the Scottish hero removed from the Monument for the first time to undergo specialist repairs in England before returning home to Stirling, where it was fixed back in position on the landmark.

Iconic attraction

Stirling Council Leader, Cllr Scott Farmer said: “These essential repairs to the National Wallace Monument were complex and were only possible thanks to the expertise of a range of experts, but the impressive results of this challenging project are there for all to see as we celebrate its 150th anniversary.

“Our investment in these works, including the magnificently restored William Wallace statue, shows our long-term commitment to preserving this iconic attraction and to ensuring Stirling continues to be a must-visit destination.”

The landmark had been prioritised for repairs following a building and condition survey.

Back in peak condition

Stirling Council Depute Leader, Cllr Danny Gibson said: “It was critical we undertook this refurbishment which required close collaboration with a range of specialists and has been completed to the highest standard.

“This is not only a celebration of 150 years of the National Wallace Monument, it’s a statement that one of Stirling’s most famous attractions is back in peak condition, ready to welcome visitors from around the world for years to come.”

The 150th celebrations will continue on Saturday (14 Sep) as Wallace High School hosts the Monument’s Wallace Wha Hae! food and music festival.

Performers will include world-renowned bagpiping group, The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, and The Voice UK 2015 winner Stevie McCrorie. Local food and drink will be served and a funfair, face painting and medieval re-enactments will feature as part of the programme.

A very memorable day

Stirling District Tourism Marketing Manager, Ken Thomson, added: “It was an honour to celebrate this significant milestone in The National Wallace Monument’s history with visitors from across Scotland and beyond. Wednesday was a very memorable day, filled with celebrations of Scotland’s national hero, William Wallace, and of Scottish culture.”

For more information on the celebrations this weekend, head here:

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The 220ft high National Wallace Monument is one of Scotland’s most popular landmarks, attracting 140,000 visitors a year. Designed by Glasgow architect John Thomas Rochead, it was constructed between 1861 and 1869 at a cost of £18,000.

Pictured next to the Wallace Sword are (from left) Zillah Jamieson, Chair of Stirling District Tourism; Provost Christine Simpson and Stirling Council Leader, Scott Farmer.