Hidden medieval Stirling street opened up for guided tours

A medieval Stirling street that has been hidden under Thistles shopping centre in Stirling for over 40 years is to be opened up for special guided tours in June.

Picture shows the base of the bastion under the Thistles (The Thieves’ Pot).
Picture shows the base of the bastion under the Thistles (The Thieves’ Pot).

Dirt Raw ran along Stirling’s formidable city walls, which are some of the best preserved in Scotland and played a pivotal role in shaping the destiny of the nation.

When Thistles was being constructed in the 1970s, it was built over the Dirt Raw sealing it away from the public – until now.

As part of Stirling’s 900th anniversary celebrations, visitors will have the opportunity to secure special access to this fascinating part of the city’s rich history and heritage on guided tours.

The tours will also feature access to the hidden section of the Thieves' Pot – the 16th century jail located in Thistles – and will be led by Stirling Council Archaeologist, Dr Murray Cook.

He said: “Dirt Raw used to lie outside the Royal Burgh and was sealed in 1970s as the Thistles was built. It’s an incredibly atmospheric disorienting place and I can't wait to explore it and the outside of the Thieves’ Pot.”

Tickets cost £20 per person, with all proceeds going to support Start Up Stirling’s services as the charity celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Andy Ireland, General Manager for Start Up Stirling, said: "Start Up Stirling would like to thank Dr Cook for all of his help in devising this amazing and unique event, which will help to support our services.  We would also like to thank Thistles Stirling management team too, for their help."

Gary Turnbull, Centre Director at Thistles, said“Stirling is a city with such a rich heritage and it just so happens that Thistles was built atop the Thieves’ Pot. The museum in the centre always catches the eye of tourists and shoppers alike and we’re excited to be taking part in opening the Dirt Raw to uncover the city’s history whilst helping to raise vital funds for Start Up Stirling.”

Stirling’s City Walls were built during the ‘Rough Wooing’ in the 16th century to deter the English from forcing the infant Mary Queen of Scots into marrying Henry VIII's heir.

Stirling Council Leader, Cllr Chris Kane said: “These guided tours will provide a rare opportunity to see part of Stirling’s remarkable history that’s been hidden away for more than 40 years.

“As we mark Stirling’s 900th anniversary, this is a fitting moment to open up this medieval street to the public whilst supporting a fantastic local charity in Start Up Stirling as it celebrates its special milestone. I’m sure there will be huge demand so please book early.”

*** Please note that the tours are now sold out ***

There are only 20 tickets from each tour, on Wednesday 12 and 19 June, so booking via ticketsource is essential: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/start-up-stirling.

Please note that this tour is not suitable for people who dislike tight, enclosed spaces. Appropriate footwear is required as some areas are uneven.

Stirling 900

A steering group that includes organisations, businesses and individuals from across Stirling has been formed to oversee and deliver the events programme for Stirling 900.

The group membership includes: Stirling Council, The University of Stirling, Stirling Voluntary Enterprise, Go Forth – Stirling BID, Scene Stirling (representing a range of cultural organisations), Stirling City Heritage Trust, Historic Environment Scotland, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum, Stirling District Tourism, Festival and Events Forum, and The Marches.

Historical background for Stirling 900

Is thought that the original creation of the burgh by David I was given as a verbal instruction so no written record exists. The earliest charter is held by Stirling Council archives issued by David II in 1360 that confirmed an earlier charter of King Alexander II given on 18 August 1226.

Burgh status elevated an existing settlement into something more distinctive. The king granted his burgesses or freemen privileges. These included: holding their land and property directly from him, having the right to elect a council, holding their own court, levying local taxes and holding markets.

Officially, the celebration will take place between April 2024 and April 2025, to coincide with the coronation of King David.

More information

For more information on Stirling 900 and the list of events, which will be added to throughout the next 12 month, visit: www.yourstirling.com/whats-on/stirling-900

For more information about Start Up Stirling’s services and fundraising activities, please visit: https://startupstirling.org.uk