Valley Cemetery

Valley Cemetery
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Valley Cemetery

Perhaps Scotland's most picturesque cemetery, the A-listed Valley Cemetery occupies a commanding position above the town of Stirling, between Ladies' Rock and Stirling Castle, in an area was once used for Royal tournaments, sporting events, markets and horse fairs. During the 1745 Rebellion this was the site of Jacobite batteries.

The cemetery was created as an extension of the Holy Rude Kirkyard which was badly overcrowded such that the excavation of new graves regularly disturbed older burials. The initiative for a new cemetery was taken by Rev. Charles Rodgers, the Chaplain of Stirling Castle, along with Provost William Rankin, nurseryman and philanthropist William Drummond and his brother Peter. Valley Cemetery was laid out by Peddie & Kinnear and opened in 1857.

Statues of notable Presbyterians are prominently located within the cemetery, all carved by Alexander Handyside Ritchie (1804-70). These represent the Protestant reformers John Knox (c. 1505-72), Andrew Melville (1545 - 1622) and Alexander Henderson (c. 1583 - 1646), martyrs James Guthrie (1612-61) and James Renwick (1662-88), and Ebenezer Erskine (1680 - 1794), who founded the Scottish Secession Church. Below Knox's statue is the Valley Rock Fountain carved from marble, featuring a shell basin and adorned with Biblical references.

The Martyrs' Monument was constructed in 1859 is also by Ritchie, with its distinctive glass dome added in 1867 by John Rochead (1814-78). The monument features three figures carved in marble; an angel protecting Margaret Wilson, who reads to her younger sister Agnes. Margaret was celebrated as a religious martyr having been drowned in the Solway Firth at Wigtown for her adherence to the Covenanting cause. Another prominent religious monument is the Star Pyramid, located behind the cemetery in the Drummond Pleasure Ground. Together the cemetery and pleasure ground were intended to have an educational purpose and have been described as a 'religious theme park'.

The Valley Cemetery is one of five cemeteries collectively known as the Old Town (or Top of the Town) Cemeteries. Tours were introduced in the 1860s and the cemeteries were subject to a £1.7 million restoration in 2008-09, paid for by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Stirling Council and Historic Scotland.

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