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Stirling, Broad Street

Midden (Period Unassigned), Road (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Stirling, Broad Street

Classification Midden (Period Unassigned), Road (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) St John Street; Jail Wynd

Canmore ID 109577

Site Number NS79SE 180

NGR NS 792 937

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Stirling
  • Parish Stirling
  • Former Region Central
  • Former District Stirling
  • Former County Stirlingshire

Archaeology Notes

NS79SE 180 792 937

A watching brief was carried out by SUAT on contractors' trial trenches across Broad Street, Jail Wynd and St John Street. Deep anaerobic midden deposits were located under parts of all three streets apparently in a terrace in the bedrock. Sherds of medieval pottery, pieces of animal bone and leather were recovered from this midden. A fragment of cambered cobbled roadway was located under Jail Wynd and a cobbled surface was located under St John Strteet.

Sponsor: Forth Valley Enterprise.

D Hall 1994

NS 793 937 A watching brief was undertaken during environmental improvements on the S side of Broad Street and the Tolbooth. A new service trench directly behind the Broad Street frontage located further midden deposits similar to those previously encountered under Broad Street (Cachart and Hall 1996). In the same trench a layer of burnt daub and wood was recorded at c 0.75m below the modern courtyard surface. Other trenches cut for new walls located earlier courtyard surfaces and banded midden deposits. Very few artefacts were recovered from any of the trenches, but the daub and deep midden would appear to be of medieval date. (SUAT ST09).

Sponsor: Stirling Council.

D Hall 1999

NS 793 937 Archaeological recording was undertaken in February 2002 of trench sections as part of the pedestrianisation of Jail Wynd, and the refurbishment of the Tolbooth. The section on the S side of the Wynd revealed a considerable depth of black organic midden containing medieval pottery sherds, some bone, leather and shell. The N section revealed features of a more constructional nature, in the form of a major wall and a cobbled surface considered to be post-medieval.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: Stirling Council.

R Cachart 2002


Publication Account (1985)

Broad Street (formerly called Market Street) was the principal street of the medieval town and, despite its somewhat restrained air today, still retains much of the character of a late medieval market street with its merchants' houses, tolbooth and mercat cross.

Unlike the courtyard houses of the nobility in Castle Wynd (Mar's Work and Argyll Lodging, nos 11 and 12), the houses of the merchants and burgesses are tightly crammed together with only the gable end projecting on to the street front. The earlier medieval houses would have been of timber and these were replaced in stone during the course of 16th and 17th centuries. Much alteration has taken place since then, but the street-line and the plots have been fossilised. The narrow street facades offered the only opportunity for a public display of individual architectural detail, and the proud owners of these houses frequently advertised their status and wealth by embellishing their frontages. Much of this detail has been lost over the centuries but the best surviving example lies at No. 34, which is known after its 17th century owner as Norrie's House. James Norrie was Town Clerk and, from a date-stone on the building, he appears to have had the house built in 1671. It is four storeys high with an attic and is built of large ashlar blocks. The single gabled facade finishes in crowsteps and is crowned by a finial carved in the fonn of a human head. There are three windows on each floor (the original doorway is missing and it is now entered from next door), and above each there is a triangular pediment containing texts and initials, which include (on the first floor) ARBOR VIT AB SAPIENTIA (Wisdom is the tree of life) and MURUS AHENEUS: BONA CONSCIENTIA (A good conscience is a brazen wall), and on the second floor SOL(LI) DEO GLORIA (Glory to God alone) which is flanked by the initials (IN and AR) of James Norrie and his wife Agnes Robertson.

Opposite Norrie's House stands the Town House or Tolbooth, the administrative centre of the town. Originally built in 1703-5 to a design of the distinguished Scots architect Sir William Bruce, it was extended in 1785 and again between 1806-11, when a jail and courthouse were added. It has the distinction of being one of the earliest tolbooths to have been built in the classical style and the dubious honour of being copied by the alloa mason, Tobias Bauchop, when he built the Mid-Steeple in Dumfries.

A further reminder of the commercial connections of Broad Street is the Mercat Cross which stands in the middle of the carriageway in front of the Town House. It was re-erected here in 1891 following its removal by the Town Council in 1792. Only the unicorn finial, affectionately known locally is 'Puggy', is original, the shaft having been added as part of the Victorian restoration. The unicorn is sitting, and in front of its breast there is a crowned shield bearing the royal arms of Scotland, as befitting a royal burgh, and it is surrounded by the collar of the Order of the Thistle, the premier order of chivalry in Scotland.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Clyde Estuary and Central Region’, (1985).


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