The King's Knot
These formal gardens were designed to be admired from the vantage point of the castle.
The King’s and Queen’s Knots can be found in the grounds of the ancient King’s Park nestled beneath the towering mass of Stirling Castle. This area was Crown property from at least the 1100s. It was the area where Scotland’s royalty took part in activities such as hunting and jousting.
King’s Park is first mentioned in 1190, when it was referred to as the “Aulde” park. This park was enlarged to become the “Neu” park in 1264. At this time the park was enclosed and managed for deer and fox hunting.
The park then had a major period of development between 1490 and 1508, with the creation of ditches, orchards, fish pools, and a vegetable garden. More than 1,000 trees were planted in the area in 1497. The earthworks known as the King’s and Queen’s Knots were originally part of these formal gardens. However, when the royal court moved south in 1603, the gardens were abandoned and as nature took over they became neglected and overgrown.
In 1633 the formal gardens were remodeled prior to Charles I’s arrival at Stirling Castle for his Scottish coronation. They were again the subject of extensive restoration under orders of Queen Victoria in 1842, who had complained about the state of the gardens after her visit. The restoration was thorough. The King’s Knot was considerably altered, and it’s possible the orientation of the entire site was changed at this point.
The King’s Knot comprises an octagonal stepped mound rising to three meters high. From the top of the mound, there is a stunning view of Stirling Castle towering overhead.
Even less is known about the adjacent Queen’s Knot. This area is now a flat piece of land, with grass cut to show what might have been there. The area is used by locals as an area to walk their dogs and welcome open green space, but the scale of the gardens is far better appreciated from the Ladies’ Lookout in Stirling Castle.
With the exception of the existing Knot Garden, very little is known of the layout of the former royal gardens, little of the park survives today.
Know Before You Go
While the park containing the Knots can be visited free at any time, to get a proper view a visit to Stirling Castle is required.
Granted the view is not as high up, but taking the footpath called The Back Walk will give you the same view and for free. This walkway runs along the north western periphery of the royal residence. If you take the time to search, one might find bits of pottery, as this was the dumping ground for regal waste.
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