Stirling is a city in central Scotland. The market town, surrounded by rich farmland, grew up connecting the royal citadel, the medieval old town with its merchants and tradesmen, the bridge and the port. Located on the River Forth, Stirling is the administrative centre for the Stirling council area, and is traditionally the county town of Stirlingshire. Proverbially it is the strategically important "Gateway to the Highlands".
It has been said that "Stirling, like a huge brooch clasps Highlands and Lowlands together". Similarly "he who holds Stirling, holds Scotland" is often quoted. Stirling's key position as the lowest bridging point of the River Forth before it broadens towards the Firth of Forth, made it a focal point for travel north or south.
When Stirling was temporarily under Anglo-Saxon sway, according to a 9th-century legend, it was attacked by Danish invaders. The sound of a wolf roused a sentry, however, who alerted his garrison, which forced a Viking retreat. This led to the wolf being adopted as a symbol of the town as is shown on the 1511 Stirling Jug.
Even today the wolf appears with a goshawk on the council's coat of arms along with the recently chosen motto: "Steadfast as the Rock".
Once the capital of Scotland, Stirling is visually dominated by Stirling Castle. Stirling also has a medieval parish church, the Church of the Holy Rude, where, on 29 July 1567, the infant James VI was anointed King of Scots by the Bishop of Orkney with the service concluding after a sermon by John Knox. The poet King was educated by George Buchanan and grew up in Stirling. He was later also crowned King of England and Ireland on 25 July 1603, bringing closer the countries of the United Kingdom.
Modern Stirling is a centre for local government, higher education, tourism, retail, and industry. The 2011 census recorded the population of the city as 45,750; the wider Stirling council area has a population of about 91,000.
One of the principal royal strongholds of the Kingdom of Scotland, Stirling was created a royal burgh by King David I in 1130. In 2002, as part of Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee, Stirling was granted city status.