Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Stirling and Stirling Castle

Stirling is a city in central Scotland, located on the River Forth. The Stirling Castle is located on Castle Hill, a high volcanic rock.

Stirling Castle is said to be one of Arthur’s courts in Béroul’s Tristan.

Stirling | 0 to 9th century AD

Pre-Roman and Roman Periods
Before the Roman period, the area around Stirling likely had settlements dating back to the prehistoric era, but detailed information is limited. The Roman presence in Scotland during the first and second centuries is evidenced by the construction of the Antonine Wall, a Roman defensive fortification that passed near what is now Stirling. The wall was constructed by the Romans as a northern frontier in Britannia.

Early Medieval Period | 5th – 9th centuries
After the withdrawal of the Romans from Britain in the early fifth century, the region came under the influence of various Celtic and Pictish tribes. The Battle of Graupius, mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus, is believed to have taken place in the general area of Stirling around 83 AD. The exact location of this battle remains uncertain.

During the early medieval period, Stirling and its surroundings were part of the broader political and territorial struggles among different Celtic and Pictish kingdoms.

Stirling Castle

The early origins of Stirling Castle are not well-documented, but it is likely that some form of fortification existed on Castle Hill during this period for defensive purposes. The use of fortified structures on Castle Hill might have been influenced by the strategic advantage of its elevated position and its proximity to the River Forth.

The castle dates back to the eleventh or twelfth century. The early castle was likely made of wood, a common building material for medieval castles during their initial construction phases. Wooden structures have a shorter lifespan and are often replaced or enhanced over time.

In the twelfth and thirteen centuries, efforts were made to replace the wooden structures with more durable stone buildings. During the reigns of James IV and James V in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, Stirling Castle underwent significant redevelopment. The royal residences, including the construction of the Great Hall, enhanced the castle’s status as a favored royal residence. During the sixteenth century, Stirling Castle was refortified in response to changing military tactics and technologies.

Tristan | Béroul, late 12th century