Community invited to celebrate Stirling 900 at the Walking of the Marches

Residents and visitors are being invited to commemorate the 900th anniversary of Stirling by taking part in the Walking of the Marches on Saturday 25 May.

A picture of a large group of people standing at the foot of a cobbled street holding a flag, with a building with a steeple in the background.
Last year's Walking of the Marches continued a Stirling tradition that stretches back to at least the 12th century.

An open invite has been extended to people from all walks of life to participate in the annual event, one of the highlights of the year-long celebrations to mark the formation of Stirling as a Royal Burgh in 1124.

The Walking of the Marches is an ancient tradition of inspecting and protecting the boundaries of the city, which dates back to at least the 12th century, when Kind David I granted Stirling its prestigious status.

The Marches will set off from the Rotunda at the foot of King Street at 10.45am on a route around the city centre, led by ‘Birlawmen’; the inspectors who traditionally marked the boundaries using picks and shovels, turning sods of turf at each check point.

Ceremonial picks and shovels are still carried today and this year, for the first time, the inspectors include two female Birlawmen, Janie Meikle Bland and Val Bold.

A toast will also take place when people reach the Smith Art Gallery and Museum, before the Marches continues onto Cowane’s Hospital, where the procession concludes with an entertainment programme featuring pipe bands, a singer, living history group Historia Normannis and even a display by TV and film stunt team, Combat International.


Stirling Provost, Elaine Watterson, said: “The 900th celebrations will be an opportunity to highlight the stories of Stirling, old and new.

“Stirling is a unique and vibrant place to live, work and visit in 2024 – but we are nothing without our local communities. That’s why we extend an invite to as many people as possible to come and celebrate our past with the Walking of the Marches, because they will also write the stories that define our future.

“By granting Stirling its Burgh status, King David I elevated our area from an existing settlement into something much more distinctive. He gave us the right to elect our own council, hold our own court, levy local taxes and even host our own markets – cornerstones of local democracy that exist to this very day. 

“Few traditions have been as important to the people of Stirling since the 12th Century than the Walking of the Marches and our sense of belonging to this area, no matter where we were born or raised, is as unshakeable as the foundations of the Castle itself.

“I look forward to taking part in the Walking of the Marches and would love to see as many people as possible joining in and representing our area at its very best.”

A picture of a group of men, carrying ceremonial picks and shovels, as they walk up a cobbled city centre street
For the first time this year, the 'Birlawmen' will be joined by two female members, Janie Meikle Bland and Val Bold.

It is hoped hundreds of people will participate, including staff, students and alumni from the University of Stirling, who are being encouraged to wear their national dress, whatever their heritage, to add to the colour and spectacle.

Professor Kirstie Blair, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Stirling said: “The University is delighted to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the Stirling Burgh, and to encourage our staff, students and alumni to participate in this historic event.

“For those unable to attend on the day, our new FutureLearn course offers the chance to learn more about the history and heritage of Stirling at 900 years.”


The 900th anniversary celebrations officially began on Friday, 26th April. The day started with the ceremonial opening of the gates at Stirling Castle before the bells of the Church of the Holy Rude rang for an hour.

The festivities continued with the unveiling of a brand new artwork at Station Square in the city centre by local artist David Galletly, which celebrates Stirling’s people and its history, before it concluded with a community launch event at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum.

Andrew McEwan, chair of the Walking of the Marches committee, said: “The Walking of the Marches is a great tradition, of which everyone in Stirling should be proud.

“As a real community event, we look forward to welcoming as many people as possible on the day, particularly this year as we celebrate the 900th anniversary of our wonderful city.”