The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: Northern England and Southern Scotland in 1841

Stirling Kings Gardens

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The King's Gardens. - Their present condition is that of a marshy piece of pasture ground completely desolated, so far as shrubs and flowers are concerned. The utmost exertion of the memory of the present generation can only recollect an old cherry tree which stood at the corner of one of the parterres, and which was burnt down by the wadding of a shot which some thoughtless sportsman fired into its decayed trunk, as he happened to pass it on his way home from the fields. An octagonal mount in the centre of the supposed garden is called 'The King's Knote,' and is said by tradition to have been the scene of some forgotten play or recreation, which the king used to enjoy on that spot with his court. In an earlier age this strange object seems to have been called 'The Round Table,' and, in all probability, it was the scene of the out-of-doors game of that name, founded upon the history of King Arthur, and of which the courtly personages of former times are known to have been fond. Barbour, in his heroic poem of The Bruce which he wrote at the conclusion of the fourteenth century, thus alludes to it:- 'And besouth the Castill went they thone, Rycht by the Round Table away; And syne the Park enwiround thai, And towart Lythkow held in by.' Lyndsay, in his Complaynt of the Passings, written in 1530, thus also alludes to it: - 'Adieu fair Snawdoun with thy towris hie, Thy Chapill Royal, Park, and Tabill round; May, June, and July would I dwell in thee, Were I ane man to hour the birdis sound Whilk doth against thy royal rocke resound.' "To give further countenance to this supposition, we have the ascertained fact that James IV., with whom Stirling was a favourite and frequent residence, was excessively fond of the game of the Round Table, which probably appealed in a peculiar manner to his courtly and chivalric imagination. "It is a circumstance not to be omitted, that a piece of ground to the west, not so distinctly marked as this, but within the limits of the gardens, is called the Queen's Knote." (Picture of Stirling 1830; the descriptive part by Robert Chambers.) "Besides the above, there are no other traditionary notices that can be obtained. There can be little doubt but that a round table did exist here prior to the formation of the gardens, or the reign of the Jameses; whether it may have been altered or renovated by any of these monarchs it is now impossible to determine. "The circle called the Queen's Knote has been by some considered a miniature of the other; but, on a minute examination, it indicates nothing at present but a plain surface with a few old mole hills, of which it has a proportion along with the other parts of the field, and of which various figures might easily be constructed by a fertile fancy." - William Drummond and Sons. Stirling, Oct. 1842. The plan and sections (fig. 75.) require very little explanation. There is a cross section, A B; a diagonal section, E F, and a longitudinal section, C D; all to the same scale. The road to Stirling is shown at h, and the old canal at g. The surface is in grass, and grazed by sheep and cattle. As this and great part of the adjoining lands are the property of the crown, we hope the "Knote" will be carefully preserved as a piece of antiquity.