The National Wallace Monument Welcomes 135,000 Visitors In 2017

Stirling’s National Wallace Monument has felt the effects of a strong year for Scotland’s tourism sector as it welcomed over 135,000 visitors in 2017.

With the highest number of visitors for over ten years, the attraction has generated an estimated gross direct contribution to the local economy of over £4.5m during what has been an unforgettable year.

Throughout 2017, Stirling District Tourism, the charity responsible for the running of the Monument, has continued to make significant investments in the 148-year-old Scottish landmark, including improvements to the Abbey Craig and new displays inside The Hall of Heroes.

Commenting on this year’s successful performance, Zillah Jamieson, Chair of Stirling District Tourism, said: “Our goal has always been to keep The National Wallace Monument at the heart of culture, education and heritage in Stirling. The visitor numbers which have been recorded this year, and the Monument’s contribution to the local economy reflect how this is being achieved.”

The stand-out year began with an initiative that captured the hearts and minds of the public across the globe – who cast their votes for ‘Scotland’s Heroines’, selecting Mary Slessor and Maggie Keswick Jencks as the first females who will be commemorated in The Hall of Heroes.

2017 also saw extensive renovations completed on the Abbey Craig, the hill on which the famous landmark stands, with the main pathway leading to the Monument upgraded, and the ‘Wallace Way’ opened with its collection of 11 specially created woodcarvings.

The Abbey Craig was also the setting for an expanded programme of visitor events, which included a celebration of Wallace’s victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge and ‘Knock on History’s Door’ – a special event where the doors were opened after hours for an exclusive evening tour.

Stirling District Tourism also welcomed David Mitchell, Director of Conservation at Historic Environment Scotland, to the charity’s Board of Directors this year. Using his expertise, David will be involved in the conservation and development plans the Charity has in the pipeline with Stirling Council.

2018 is set to be another important year for the charity, as it continues to make improvements to the attraction and looks ahead to the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Monument, in 2019. Zillah Jamieson explained: “As a key part of Stirling’s heritage tourism infrastructure, we pride ourselves on the quality of the visitor experience and we are always looking for ways to make improvements to the Monument.

“The performance of the Monument this year means that we are able to take forward our investment plans for the attraction. We look forward to revealing the next phase of the Scotland’s Heroines project in the new year, as well as finalizing our plans for 2019, when we will mark 150 years of the Monument telling the story of Scotland’s National Hero.”

A Heroine for Scotland

The National Wallace Monument reveals the result of Scotland’s Heroine project

Mary Slessor and Maggie Keswick Jencks were unveiled on April 19th, 2017 as the first women who will be commemorated in The Hall of Heroes at The National Wallace Monument in Stirling, following a campaign that has captured the hearts and minds of the public across the globe.

The historic announcement marks the start of the most significant development in The Hall of Heroes since the first busts of Robert Burns and King Robert the Bruce were installed in 1886, and is the culmination of a four-month project that began with a shortlist of 14 remarkable Scottish women followed by a public vote to choose the one woman to be inaugurated into the Hall of Heroes.

From the thousands of votes which were cast online and by visitors to the Monument, the two women emerged clearly as the frontrunners, and following scrutiny of all votes the Selection Panel took the momentous decision that both Mary Slessor and Maggie Keswick Jencks should be welcomed into the Hall of Heroes.

Zillah Jamieson, Chair of Stirling District Tourism, explained: “This has been an incredible campaign, one which has ignited passions and has stimulated an amazing response. The level of enthusiasm for women to be given recognition has been truly inspirational – and the challenge for us as a self-funding charity has been to raise the funds required to embark on this project, and to now introduce these women into The Hall of Heroes. We are proud that we have been able to do this – with the help and the support of the visitors who come to the Monument”.

Missionary Mary Slessor, and co-founder of the Maggie’s Centres, Maggie Keswick Jencks, will join the gallery alongside the existing sixteen busts of famous men from Scotland’s history.

Both women exhibited selflessness and personal commitment to social improvement, and through their efforts to help others they achieved worldwide recognition.

Mary Slessor (1848-1915) has been described as the most celebrated Scottish missionary since David Livingstone, who inspired her to a life of service. Determined to overcome the challenges of her early years, and largely self-taught, she combined her missionary zeal with a practical approach to helping those in need, and she worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for the people of Calabar, in Nigeria – against a background of prejudice and opposition.

Described as “selfless” and “exceptionally unique”, the opportunity to see Mary Slessor recognised as a heroine prompted many voters to share their own stories of how she inspired them, with one writing how “I became a full time missionary at the age of 21, after reading her biography.”

Rev Ian Alexander, Secretary of the World Mission Council of the Church of Scotland, said: “We are thrilled and delighted that Mary Slessor has been chosen as one of the first women to be immortalised in the Hall of Heroes. She is an iconic figure in Scotland and her pioneering work in Calabar, Nigeria, remains an inspiration to this day.  Today, the Church of Scotland, internationally, nationally and locally, continues her legacy in its commitment to work with partners around the world in addressing justice, health issues, and opportunities for all people to live full and productive lives, whether male or female, whether young or old.”

A writer, gardener and designer from Dumfries, Maggie Keswick Jencks (1941-1995), with her husband Charles founded the Maggie’s Centres, which offer practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer, their family and friends. She designed the blueprint for the centres, the first of which opened in Edinburgh in 1996, while she herself was facing cancer.

Voters in their hundreds chose to show their support for the “amazing” Maggie Keswick Jencks, with many highlighting how the Maggie’s Centres positively impacted their lives. Emphasising just how much the services they provide are appreciated, and how much their founder is admired, one comment read – “Maggie’s Centre has been so vital to our family, an inspirational lady who made so many people’s lives a little easier at a terrible time.”

Maggie’s Chief Executive Laura Lee said: “It is quite incredible to think that Maggie has been chosen, by the public, to be the first Scottish woman alongside Mary Slessor to join the Hall of Heroes. All the women on the shortlisted would have been worthy of a place amongst the likes of Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott, but perhaps the result reflects how many people are affected by cancer. Maggie deserves to be honoured for her vision of a different type of cancer care, but I think she would be surprised to find herself in such illustrious company.”

Abby Richards, from Stirling District Tourism, unveils the winners – Mary Slessor and Maggie Keswick Jencks as the first women to be commemorated in the Hall of Heroes gallery at the iconic tourist attraction in Scotland



Courtesy of Katie Goodfellow at Represent and the Wallace National Monument 

Original architectural plans for the National Wallace Monument get new lease of life

One of the J.T. Rochead original plans when designing the National Wallace Monument between 1861 and 1869
One of the J.T. Rochead original plans when designing the National Wallace Monument between 1861 and 1869

Digitized versions of the original architect’s plans of the famous Scottish landmark, The National Wallace Monument in Stirling, will be unveiled in an outdoor display during a special weekend, from 24th – 26th June, to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design and to mark the 155th Anniversary of the Laying of the Foundation Stone.

Designed by the Edinburgh-born architect J. T. Rochead and built between 1861 and 1869, The National Wallace Monument, which now attracts over 100,000 visitors a year, is an iconic monument that has defined the landscape of Stirling and Central Scotland.

Demonstrating the exquisite work of J.T. Rochead, the original hand drawn plans, which date from 1859 to 1862 are held at Stirling Council Archives. The 18 plans which were previously cleaned and repaired in 2014, have now been digitised, by Townsweb Archiving. The availability of electronic images of the plans will provide visitors to the popular tourist attraction an insight in to the ambitious project surrounding the planning and building of the commemorative monument for William Wallace.

Private donations from all over the world funded the construction of J.T. Rochead’s design. An unprecedented number of donations were collected over a period of 8 years that allowed the project to come to fruition. The National Wallace Monument was officially unveiled in 1869.

Stirling District Tourism, the charity that manages the Stirling attraction, funded the digitisation project involving 16 of the original 18 plans, which reveal just how meticulously Rochead designed every part of the building. A selection of these plans will be on display at the Monument from 24th to 26th June, and members of the public can also request to see the original plans at Stirling Council Archives’ public search room, free of charge.

Pam McNicol, Council Archivist at Stirling Council Archives, commented: “It is fantastic to see these original plans come to life through digitisation. It will give a new generation a chance to see the plans and learn more about the Monument’s architect J.T Rochead. We can’t wait to see the display during the Victorian Masterpiece Weekend in June.”

About The National Wallace Monument

The National Wallace Monument is managed and operated by Stirling District Tourism Limited. The Monument was opened in 1869 to commemorate the life of the Scottish patriot and martyr Sir William Wallace and attracts over 100,000 visitors each year.

A registered charity, Stirling District Tourism receives no Government funding and is reliant on donations and admission fees. In 2014 the Monument underwent a £350,000 refurbishment programme that included new displays, interpretations and audio-visual systems for the three exhibition galleries. A further investment during 2015 included a refurbishment of Legends Coffee House.

In June the Monument will be open each day from 9.30am until 5.00pm. Visitor information is available from 01786 472140 and

Victorian style celebration at The National Wallace Monument

From the 24th to the 26th of June The National Wallace Monument is set to mark Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design by celebrating the work of its architect John Thomas Rochead, with a weekend of special activities including a display of his original architectural designs for the building.

The three-day event entitled ‘A Victorian Masterpiece’ will commence on the 155th Anniversary of the Laying of the Foundation Stone for the Monument, and will allow visitors to experience the excitement of 1861 as work started on the building which would commemorate William Wallace.

Along with the displays of the original plans, there will be traditional building skills and craft demonstrations from stonemasonry specialists from Historic Environment Scotland, traditional Scottish music from a piper and a new exhibition of Monument memorabilia for visitors to enjoy across the weekend.

Live presentations by costumed actors telling the story of the Monument, will also form part of the weekend of activities. Performances each day will introduce visitors to the architect J. T. Rochead, and to the Monument’s first Caretaker, as well as the hero the building was designed to commemorate – William Wallace.

To add a modern twist, there will also be a fun photo area with Victorian props for visitors to take their own Victorian selfies! Children can also take part in face painting, and meet the Monument’s mascot – Braveheart Bear, who has designed some challenges for younger visitors in his special activity book.

As part of the celebration The National Wallace Monument is offering all visitors a reduction of 10% on admission tickets over the three days, and this is available with tickets purchased in advance online, or on arrival at the Monument.

Visit for more information.