Scotland's sixth city which is the largest settlement and the administrative centre of Stirling Council Area, Stirling lies between the River Forth and the prominent 122m (400 feet) high crag on top of which sits Stirling Castle. Situated midway between the east and west coasts of Scotland at the lowest crossing point on the River Forth, it was for long a place of great strategic significance. To hold Stirling was to hold Scotland.
In 843 Kenneth Macalpine defeated the Picts near Cambuskenneth; in 1297 William Wallace defeated the English at Stirling Bridge and in June 1314 Robert the Bruce routed the English army of Edward II at Bannockburn. For fully 500 years, from the reign of Alexander I to that of James VI, Stirling Castle was a principal residence of the Kings of Scotland. Under the shadow of the Castle there developed one of Scotland's earliest royal burghs with its market cross, Tolbooth, Parish Kirk and 'ludgings' of the wealthy merchants and nobles of the court.
Buildings of historic and architectural interest include 15th Century Stirling Bridge, the Church of the Holy Rude (from 1456), the Tolbooth (1703-05), Argyll's Lodging (c.1630), Mar's Wark (1569), Cowane's Hospital (1639-49), the Old Town Jail, Darnley's House, Norie's House (1671), Erskine Church (1824-26) and the Municipal Buildings (1914). The Smith Art Gallery and Museum was founded in 1874 with a legacy from the painter and collector Thomas Stuart Smith (1814-69). Notables born in Stirling include King James III (1452-88), composer Muir Matheson (1911-75), theologian Prof. Allan Galloway (1920 - 2006), sports administrator Sir Craig Reedie (b.1941), jockey Willie Carson (b.1942), singers Anne Lorne Gillies (b.1944) and Margaret Anne Marshall (b.1949), and broadcaster Kirsty Young (b.1969).
Today Stirling is a leading centre of commercial and retailing industries and tourism, retaining much of its historic character. Founded in 1967 the University of Stirling is located near Bridge of Allan on the other side of the River Forth. The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has its headquarters in the Castle Business Park to the west of the town. Stirling retains its importance as a military centre, with the headquarters of the 51st (Scottish) Brigade and a large Defense Support Group facility which maintains military vehicles, both located at Forthside.
Stirling was named Scotland's sixth city in 2002 in honour of HM Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee, Her Majesty presenting the 'letters patent' in May of that year.