Statues have been in the news rather a lot recently, so we thought we would take a look at some of the more prominent statues to be found in Stirling; find out who they depicted, and if possible who commissioned and created them. We’ve decided to focus in on the statues and memorials near the Corn Exchange and Dumbarton Road, and encourage you to go out and do some statue spotting yourself.
There are no statues of women in this blog post as there are very few statues of women in general; Glasgow has less than 5, and most of those are statues of the same woman, Queen Victoria! So, if you’re interested in statues and memorials dedicated to women have a look at this excellent crowdsourced project Mapping Memorials to Women, funded by Glasgow Women’s Library, Women’s History Scotland, and Girlguiding Scotland. You can add memorials to this interactive map database, as well as images and information about memorials already listed. We can also recommend Sara Sheridan’s Where are the Women?, published by Historic Environment Scotland. It is a beautifully illustrated book which imagines a Scotland where only women are publicly memorialised and celebrated, and it contains a treasure trove of information about Scotland’s impressive but forgotten women.
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (1836-1908)
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman is perhaps not as well-known as the other figures we’ll be discussing, so it’s worth telling you a little more about him, and why he is perhaps deserving of his statue. Campbell-Bannerman was born and raised in Glasgow and never lived in Stirling, but he served as Stirling’s Liberal MP for nearly 40 years from 1868 onwards. Between 1905 and 1908 Campbell-Bannerman was also our Prime Minister, the first man to bear that title officially. He was against the extension of the suffrage to women, but during his career, he spoke out about the British Treatment of South Africans during the Second Boer War (1899-1902), introduced the eight-hour working day, and encouraged all local authorities to provide school children with free school meals. His government also passed the Workmen’s Compensation Act in 1906, which gave some workers the right to seek damages if they suffered an injury in the workplace and he is regarded as a social reformer by historians.
His bronze statue sits on a pink granite pedestal, and was created by sculptor Paul Raphael Montford (1868-1938) in 1913. Montford was born in London and achieved great success as a sculptor across the UK, as well as in Australia. He studied at the Royal Academy where he won a number of prestigious awards and his other works in Scotland include the bronze figures on the Kelvin Bridge in Glasgow.
Rob Roy MacGregor (1671-1734)
Just down the street from Henry Campbell Bannerman is a statue of notorious Scottish outlaw Rob Roy, who joined the Jacobite rising of 1689 with his father when he was just 18 years old. As a result, his father was jailed for treason for two years and when he was finally released, tragically his wife, and Rob Roy’s mother, had passed away. Rob Roy hid out in the Highlands under the patronage of John Campbell, the 2nd Duke of Argyll, and he built a house in Glen Shira, the remains of which can still be visited today. His fortunes began to rise again as he became a cattleman, but he lost all of his money and cattle due to a duplicitous chief herder and was declared an outlaw, his family thrown out of their house which was then burnt down on the orders of his principal creditor, James Graham, 1st Duke of Montrose. This began a blood feud between the two which lasted until 1722, when Rob Roy was forced to surrender and was imprisoned until 1727. He was released in part because of the success of Daniel Defoe’s biography of Rob Roy, The Highland Rogue, and he died in Balquhidder in 1734.
A bronze plaque on the statue’s pedestal reads: ‘My foot is on my native heath and my name it is McGregor’ is taken from Rob Roy, the wildly successful historical novel based on his life by Walter Scott (1771-1832), which romaticised the turbulent life of Rob Roy, bringing it to the attention of an international audience. The plaque also states that this particular statue was ‘Presented by Adam McGregor Dick of Kilmarnock The GR.GR.GR.GR.GR.Grandchild of this Famous Scotsman’, which reminds us to look into our own family trees…
Robert Burns (1759-1796)
Our National Bard needs little introduction, and statues of him can be found across Scotland. This particular statue of Burns was created by sculptor Albert Hemstock-Hodge (1875-1918), and was commissioned and gifted to the city of Stirling by Provost Bayne. Hemstock-Hodge was born on Islay and studied at Glasgow School of Art. He started out his career working for the greatly respected Glasgow based architect William Leiper (1839-1916) before realising his true passion lay in sculpture. The base of the pedestal is granite, and whilst the bronze statue is of a high quality, the four bronze reliefs which represent scenes from Burn’s most iconic poems are the most striking element of this monument. We particularly like the panel which depicts the macabre dancers at Tam O’ Shanter spied in Alloway Kirk!
Burn’s actually visited Stirling in 1787, but he had nothing good to say about the castle which was in a sorely negelected state by this point in time. To learn more about this visit read our publication King Street: A Place of Quality, over on our website.
Let us know if you have any interesting statues in your local area!