THE National Wallace Monument at Abbey Craig near Stirling celebrates its 150th anniversary today. However, its opening ceremony in 1869 was a low-key affair.

On Saturday 11th September 1869 the monument was handed over by the committee of subscribers to the provost William Rankin, magistrates and Town Council of Stirling who were to be its future custodians.

The ceremony was simple and unimposing. At 12noon, the magistrates and other officials walked in a procession from the Corn Exchange in Stirling to Abbey Craig by way of Wallace Street and Stirling Bridge.

Once they reached the monument, they were greeted by the committee who had overseen the collection of public money, decided on the design, and oversaw its construction.

The ceremony was performed in the armoury hall in front of around 100 people with advocate Charles Baillie, Lord Jerviswoode, in charge of proceedings.

He was formerly the sheriff of Stirlingshire between 1853 and 1858. The committee secretary Mr E Morrison read out a report on the structure.

He stated that in June 1856 it had finally been decided where the monument should be sited and what it should look like.

He told the assembled crowd that the foundation stone had been laid in June 1861 and that despite many difficulties, the monument was complete.

The total cost was £13,401 1s 8d. The amount which had been subscribed had been £500 short.

The original estimate of building the structure had been somewhere between £5000 and £7000.

However, it was rumoured at the time that an eminent Scottish Baronet had promised he would present £500 upon its completion.

It was expected by the committee that he would adhere to his promise.

As late as April 1869, with funds having dried up, it was feared the monument would not be completed. Three committee members travelled to Manchester to see if they could raise the funds but without success.

The National Wallace Monument stands at 220 feet high with 18 feet thick walls. Originally on the ground floor was the waiting room with three levels of halls above.

Among the designs chosen by the committee was a design by Noel Paton in 1859. It had consisted of a lion and a typhon.

Subscribers felt it would disfigure the Abbey Craig and successfully had the design thrown out.

John Thomas Rochead’s proposal won at the end of the day, and his monument is what is seen today.

On 25th June 1887, the 13 feet bronze statue of Wallace was unveiled.