Stirling marches together for 900th anniversary celebrations

Saturday’s (25 May) Walking of the Marches has been hailed as the ‘biggest and best ever’ in its 900-year history by organisers.

The 2024 Walking of the Marches in Stirling
The 2024 Walking of the Marches in Stirling

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.

Huge crowds gathered for the start of the annual procession at the Roundel on King Street on Saturday morning and, following a series of proclamations and speeches, the Marches set off from the foot of King Street on a route around the city centre.

Leading the parade were ‘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 included two female Birlawmen, Janie Meikle Bland and Val Bold.

Groups and organisations from across Stirling took part in the procession including staff, students and alumni from the University of Stirling, some who wore their national dress, adding to the colour and spectacle.

After a toast at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum, the Marches continued onto Cowane’s Hospital, where the procession concluded with an entertainment programme featuring pipe bands, a singer, living history group Historia Normannis and a display by TV and film stunt team, Combat International.

Andrew McEwan, chair of the Walking of the Marches committee, said: “The Walking of the Marches this year was a wonderful celebration of Stirling and we were absolutely thrilled by the numbers that turned up.

“The Walking of the Marches is something that has been done for centuries but I think we can safely say that was the biggest and best ever. My thanks to everyone involved and in particular our hard working committee.”

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

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

 

The 2024 Walking of the Marches in Stirling
The 2024 Walking of the Marches in Stirling

Bellman David Smith addresses the crowds ahead of the proccession
Bellman David Smith addresses the crowds ahead of the proccession

Staff, students and alumni from the University of Stirling were part of the procession
Staff, students and alumni from the University of Stirling were part of the procession

Andrew McEwan, chair of the Walking of the Marches committee, addresses the ‘Birlawmen’ ahead of the Marches.
Andrew McEwan, chair of the Walking of the Marches committee, addresses the ‘Birlawmen’ ahead of the Marches.