When Burns visited Stirling in August 1787, he unwisely engraved his opinion of the town on one of the window panes of Wingate’s Inn (now the Golden Lion Hotel). In ten lines, he summed up how Stirling, from where the Stewart kings had ruled Scotland, had lost all power, and even the roof of its Palace, with its magnificent Stirling Heads. As the poem was also highly critical of the Hanoverian kings and George 111 who was thought to be mad (‘A race outlandish…An idiot race, to honour lost – who know them best, despise them most’), Burns was forced to return and break the glass to avoid prosecution. His authorship of the Stirling Lines had a bad effect on his employment as an excise man.
Although the Golden Lion lost the fragments of the original Stirling Lines in a fire last century, they have been re-engraved for the Burns display in the Stirling Smith (shown here). The first two of the Lines are also inlaid in the mosaic at the entrance door of the Smith. Stirling has its own Burns trail, and a leaflet, showing 15 associated sites is available, free of charge, from the Smith.
Until 20 January, the Smith is also showing paintings by the artist Frank McNab which feature the work of Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson and James Hogg.