A stone cist, found in Coneypark Nursery in 1879, is Stirling's oldest catalogued artefact. Bones from the cist were radiocarbon dated and found to be over four millennia old, originating within the date range 2152 to 2021 BC. Nicknamed Torbrex Tam, the man, whose bones were discovered by workmen, died while still in his twenties. Other Bronze Age finds near the city come from the area around Cambusbarron. It had been thought that the Randolphfield standing stones were more than 3000 years old but recent radiocarbon dating suggests they may date from the time of Bruce. The earliest known structures on Gillies Hill were built by Iron Age people over 2000 years ago. Two structures are known: what is currently called Wallstale Dun on the southern end of Touchadam Craig, and Gillies Hill fort on the northwest end of the craig. South of the city, the King's Park prehistoric carvings can still be found. Whether the ancient Maeatae or Manaw Gododdin tribes settled in Stirling is not clear.
The Auld Brig at Stirling
The castle rock has been strategically significant since at least the Roman occupation of Britain, due to its naturally defensible crag and tail hill: the bedrock on which Stirling Castle was built. However, if the Romans were ever on the current castle site then they didn't leave more than a coin or two. Nevertheless, Stirling enjoys a unique position on the border between the Lowlands and Highlands.
Its other notable geographic feature is its proximity to the lowest site of subjugation of the River Forth. Control of the bridge brought military advantage in times of unrest and; excise duty, or pontage dues in peacetime. Unsurprisingly excise men were installed in a covered booth in the centre of the bridge to collect tax from any entering the royal burgh with goods. Stirling remained the river's lowest reliable crossing point (that is, without a weather-dependent ferry or seasonal ford) until the construction of the Alloa Swing Bridge between Throsk and Alloa in 1885.
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