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Gaelic word signifying hill; and the hypothesis is, that these mounts were hills of peace, or eminences constructed in commemoration of some important treaty, or where national quarrels were often adjusted.
Camelon, a small village in this neighbourhood, was a station of the Romans, and one of their most important towns, while they maintained their dominion over this part of the island; the sea at that time approached so near, that it was considered a maritime town.
The Torwood, already alluded to, four miles from Falkirk, is supposed to be the remains of the great Caledonian Forest. In its centre stood Wallace's Oak, the hollow trunk of which afforded a seasonable shelter, in the hour of danger, to that celebrated chief, and a band of his compatriots. It was of immense size, measuring twelve feet diameter. The remains of this celebrated tree may now be seen at a short distance on the right of the present road, with young and vigorous shoots springing from the parent root. And here Donald Cargill, in the midst of his covenanters, solemnly excommunicated Charles the Second.
The country in this neighbourhood, being within the isthmus between the Firths of Forth and Clyde, was intersected by the famous Roman wall, which extended across the isthmus, forming a barrier between the unconquered Caledonians on the north, and the Roman dominions on the south. It was first marked out by Agricola, and completed in the reign of Antoninus Pius, under the direction of Lollius Urbicus, the Roman Prætor, and is commonly called Graham's Dyke, from a tradition that a Scottish hero of that name first broke through it. There are distinct traces of it in a number of places; and its track has been minutely described by General Roy in his Military Antiquities of Scotland. It commenced at Dunglass, on the Firth of Clyde, and extended to Abercorn, on the Firth of Forth, being a distance
of 63,980 yards. It was of an average breadth of 40 feet, and rendered inaccessible by a ditch running parallel with it, 22 feet deep and 47 wide; and was defended by 19 forts or stations, the medium distance between which was 354 yards. It had the additional security of a chain of impassable morasses in front of it; altogether, the work itself was a striking evidence of Roman greatness; and the conception of such a work, and the choice of the line fixed upon, are signal proofs of the extensive genius and solid judgment of the great general who planned it. At Bantaskine House, near to Falkirk, was one of the forts or stations upon the wall; opposite to the middle of the town of Falkirk, 1230 yards distant from the former, was another; and vestiges of the wall become very distinct, leading across the plantations and avenue of Callendar House.
On leaving Falkirk, the traveller crosses the great Canal under an aqueduct bridge, and a little further on passes through the village of Camelon, a mile beyond which the road crosses the Carron, a river famed in ancient Celtic song as well as in Scottish history. Near to this are Larbert church and village, pleasantly situate, and commanding a fine view of the scenery of this interesting district of country. At the distance of a mile and a half, the road passes through the Torwood, formerly noticed, and, three miles beyond, the ground rises, when an imposing view is obtained of the Royal burgh of Stirling. At the distance of another mile is the thriving village of
The ground beyond this, on the left of the road, extending from the stream called Bannockburn to the village of St Ninian's, a mile in advance, was the scene of the celebrated battle, fought upon 24th June 1314, between
the English army of 100,000 men, headed by their monarch, Edward II. and the Scottish army of 30,000 men, commanded by the illustrious Bruce, which ended in the greatest defeat ever sustained by the English nation. They lost more than 30,000 men, and 700 noblemen and knights: the captives were treated with the greatest generosity by the victorious monarch, whose army was enriched by the immense spoils found in the English camp, and the ransoms of their noble prisoners. The Scottish van was posted nearly upon the line of the present road from Stirling to Kilsyth; and at a place called Brock's Brae, is still to be seen the stone, (called Borestone,) in which Bruce's standard was fixed. In a plain where the small village of Newhouse is built, stand two large stones, erected in memory of the skirmish which took place on the evening preceding the battle, between a body of Scottish spearmen, commanded by Randolph, and a detachment of English horsemen, under the command of Sir Robert Clifford, in which the former prevailed. About a mile from the field of battle, the destruction of a party of English, who attempted to rally, has given the name of Bloody Field to the spot where they fell. There is a place also in this vicinity called Ingram's Crook, which is supposed to have derived its name from Sir Ingram Umfraville, one of the English commanders. On the right of the line occupied by the Scots is Gillies Hill; it owes its name to a remarkable incident that occurred during the battle, which contributed greatly to the discomfiture of the English: westward of this hill is a valley, where Bruce had stationed his baggage, and all the gillies, or servants and retainers of the camp, who, either from anxious curiosity or a concerted plan, advanced to the summit of the hill, at the critical period when the English line was wavering, and confusion reigned on their left flank. The English conceiving this tumul
tuary assemblage to be a fresh body of troops, advancing to the support of the Scots, were seized with a panic and fled. By this signal victory the independence of Scotland was secured.
Within a mile of the field of Bannockburn, on a tract of ground called Little Canglar, and on the east side of a small brook called Sauchieburn, two miles south of Stirling, another battle was fought on June 18, 1488. The Barons of Scotland being dissatisfied with the administration of their monarch James III., rose in rebellion against him, and drew the king's eldest son, the Duke of Rothsay, afterwards James IV. into their party. This civil war was terminated by the total defeat of the royal army at Sauchieburn, and the death of the king. In his flight from the field, he fell from his horse, and, having been found lying insensible upon the ground, he was removed, without his being recognized, to a mill called Beaton's Mill, where he was laid carelessly in a corner, and covered with a coarse garment. On recovering his senses, he desired that a priest might be brought to receive his confession. Three of his most implacable enemies happening to pass at the time, one of them, who was a priest, gave him absolution, and then stabbed him to the heart. A dwelling-house has been erected on the site of the mill, where this sad tragedy was acted; its under wall is a remnant of the old building.
a thriving village, remarkable for its having a steeple standing separate from the church in its immediate neighbourhood. After the battle of Falkirk in 1746, the rebel army occupied the old church of St Ninian's as a magazine, while they were engaged with the siege of Stirling. Either from accident or design, the magazine exploded, and blew up the church, occasioning the
loss of several lives; but the steeple which was then attached to the church, resisted the shock. A new church was soon after built, but most incongruously placed at a little distance from the steeple.
A mile beyond St Ninian's is the royal burgh of
which at a distance, bears a considerable resemblance to the Old Town of Edinburgh. The leading features are similar, though on a smaller scale; but if less strongly marked, less imposing, those of Stirling are the more airy and graceful. It stands upon a hill that rises westward, and terminates in a precipitous cliff, crowned by the castle. The principal street runs along the ridge of the hill, from the castle, like the High Street of Edinburgh; but the descent is more rapid.
The most conspicuous object in the town is its castle, the history of "whose birth tradition notes not." But in all ages the town and castle of Stirling have been of the first importance in Scottish history. The fords and bridges in the neighbourhood, give the easiest and most direct communication between the northern and southern parts of Scotland; and hence in all the wars between the two
* Leaving Stirling by the south there is a road to Drymen, twenty-four miles of almost one continued line of ornamental plantations and rich pleasure grounds. Passing through the King's Park two miles, Craigforth on the right; one mile further, Meiklewood on right; proceed two miles, Gargunnock House on right, and kirk, manse, and mill on the left; and four miles beyond, enter the village of Kippen, from which are delightful views of the country, Stirling Castle, and the surrounding gentlemen's seats. Leckie House in the immediate vicinity to the right; on the left the road to Glasgow by Lennox-town; six miles onward pass through the village of Bucklivie, two miles further a road branches off to Glasgow southwards; and at the distance of other six miles enter Drymen; hard by is Buchanan House, Duke of Montrose.-See note under Dumbarton Castle, Second Tour.