Church of the Holy Rude, Stirling, Scotland

The Church of the Holy Rude is the medieval parish church of Stirling, Scotland. The church was founded in 1129 during the reign of David I, but the earliest part of the present church dates from the 15th century. As such it is the second oldest building in Stirling after Stirling Castle, parts of which date from the later 14th century. The chancel and tower were added in the 16th century.

From Stirling Castle, you get a good view of the church and the cemetery and in the distance, you can also see the Wallace Monument.

Stirling Castle has long been a favoured residence of the Scottish monarchs, and was developed as a Renaissance palace during the reigns of the later Stewart Kings. The Church of the Holy Rude, adjacent to the castle, became similarly associated with the monarchy, hosting royal baptisms and Coronations. It is one of three churches still in use in Britain that have been the sites of coronations.

The church has a historic churchyard lying primarily to the west and north-west of the church. Stones date from the 16th century.

The churchyard was extended in 1851, creating the fascinating Valley Cemetery to the north, divided from the old cemetery by only a path. This contains a series of statues by Alexander Handyside Ritchie to figures of the Reformation.

The old graveyard contains a unique stone with a carved depiction of body snatching, marking the theft of Mary Stevenson (1767–1822) by James McNab, the local gravedigger who had buried her two days earlier, on 16 November 1822, aided by a friend, Daniel Mitchell. The body was passed to John Forrest, for dissection. The two men were caught, but released due to legal technicalities and a riot ensued. Mary’s body was reburied and the stone carved to mark the strange event.


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