The Church of the Holy Rude is the medieval parish church of Stirling. The church was founded in 1129 during the reign of David I, but earliest part of the present church dates from the 15th century. Construction on the new nave was underway by 1414, and based on the evidence of carved heraldry the vault of the nave was completed between 1440 and 1480. Work on the chancel did not commence until 1507 and completed around 1530 which was when the west tower was also extended to its current height. King James VI was crowned King of Scots in the church on 29 July 1567. Adam Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney performed the ceremony, and John Knox preached a sermon. As such it is the second oldest building in Stirling after Stirling Castle, parts of which date from the later 14th century. The chancel and tower were added in the 16th century. In the Siege of Stirling Castle in 1651 by General Monk, during the English Civil War, the church and churchyard suffered damage from musket shots, which is still visible.
Stirling Castle has long been a favoured residence of the Scottish monarchs, and was developed as a Renaissance palace during the reigns of the later Stewart Kings. The Church of the Holy Rude, adjacent to the castle, became similarly associated with the monarchy, hosting royal baptisms and coronations. It is one of three churches still in use in Britain that have been the sites of coronations.
The church has a historic churchyard lying primarily to the west and north-west of the church. Stones date from the 16th century. The churchyard was extended in 1851, creating the fascinating Valley Cemetery to the north, divided from the old cemetery by only a path. This contains a series of statues by Alexander Handyside Ritchie to figures of the Reformation.
The old graveyard contains a unique stone with a carved depiction of body snatching, marking the theft of Mary Stevenson (1767-1822) by James McNab, the local gravedigger who had buried her two days earlier, on 16 November 1822, aided by a friend, Daniel Mitchell. The body was passed to John Forrest, for dissection. The two men were caught, but released due to legal technicalities and a riot ensued. Mary's body was reburied and the stone carved to mark the strange event.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.