New evidence discovered of Jacobite siege of Stirling Castle

New evidence of the last ever siege of Stirling Castle by Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite army is believed to have been discovered at the city’s only surviving medieval gate.

Stirling Castle
The Jacobites unsuccessfully laid siege to Stirling Castle in January 1746

The Jacobites first laid siege to Stirling, which surrendered after a few days, and then unsuccessfully laid siege to Stirling Castle across January 1746 as part of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s campaign to seize the British throne on behalf of the Stuarts which began the previous year.

Damage to a recently-discovered medieval gate that is believed to have been caused by musket balls at the time of the siege has been uncovered by Stirling Council archaeologist, Dr Murray Cook, and a team of volunteers.

'Previously unknown attacking probe'

The gate is located by the cemetery and Cowane’s Hospital at the western edge of the walls that guard the castle and was found during the discovery of a new defensive tower at the castle last November.

Dr Cook reckons the damage at the gate is evidence of a previously unknown attacking probe on the castle’s defences by Jacobite troops 278 years ago.

Musket ball damage at the medieval gate at Cowane's Hospital
Damage at the medieval gate at Cowane's Hospital believed to have been caused by musket balls from a Jacobite attacking probe.

'Stirling's rich past'

Dr Cook said: “It’s remarkable that we’re still finding out new things about Scotland’s best preserved city wall. To stand where Jacobites and defenders of the city stood and not just glared at each other but exchanged shots is an astonishing experience!”

Stirling Council leader, Cllr Chris Kane said: “Stirling Council Archives has a letter from Bonnie Prince Charlie promising bloodshed if his forces weren’t allowed through the city gates in January 1746.  The town council met and decided to avoid violence and destruction of property and let him in.

“Thankfully, we don’t have that sort of problem on council agendas anymore, but it would have been fascinating to be a fly on the wall to hear the debate! As we begin Stirling’s 900th anniversary year, Stirling continues to give up secrets from its rich past and this discovery is another reminder of just how varied and important Stirling is to the history of Scotland and the United Kingdom. 

“It’s little wonder that people from all across the world come to Stirling to experience our story and we look forward to welcoming visitors during this special milestone year.