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King's Knot (Stirling Castle) (also known as The Cup and Saucer)


The King's Knot is an octagonal stepped mound about three metres high and seven metres wide at the top, standing in a double-ditched enclosure. It is maintained today by close cropping of the grass. It survives as a remnant of 17th-century formal gardens attached to Stirling Castle, although it may date back to the 14th century.

The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

Location and Setting

The Kings Knot is situated immediately to the south-south-west of Stirling Castle on the north side of the Kings Park. It lies on the low, flat floodplain of the River Forth and was designed to be viewed from Stirling Castle perched high above on its basalt rock cliffs at 420' (128m) above sea level. The main view from the Kings Knot is of the Castle to its north-east, and the view is open to the north and west. To the south-east, housing development has extended to the boundary of the park.

The Kings Knot is today separated from the Kings Park by the Dumbarton Road as it was in 1859. However, at that time this whole area would have been within the policies of Stirling Castle, and a racecourse, curling ponds and a rifle range were laid out in the Park. The Kings Park is laid out as a golf course today and the Kings Knot has not been maintained as a garden for some centuries, but its stepped mound remains and this gives it its name of Knot. An aerial photograph taken in 1977 shows a further area of formal patterned layout to the north of the remaining mound and adjacent to it. Its external rectangle is of the same size as the Knot; it is further subdivided into quadrants with a central square which may have been sunken rather than raised, and which is not so obvious from ground-level, but can be picked out easily from the Castle. There are 20 acres (8ha) in the designed landscape today.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Stirling Castle is listed A. The Kings Park wall which commences at the castle and follows the southern perimeter of the Kings Park is listed B.

The Gardens

This is an octagonal, stepped mound rising to approximately 9' in height. It measures 22' across the top and stands within a double-ditched enclosure measuring 420' x 425' overall. When first created it was probably covered with flowers, treillage and fountains, and there is a suggestion that an ornamental building surrounded by a moat was at its centre. Archaeologists are investigating what kinds of plant material were grown on it. The surrounding pasture was planted out to be viewed from the castle. It is maintained today under close cut grass and the structure can still be clearly seen from above.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details


King's Knot is a quarter of a mile west of the centre of Stirling. Access is from Dumbarton Road and King's Park Road.


Historic Scotland


The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

Reason for Inclusion

Historically Kings Knot was the garden and park attached to Stirling Castle and remnants of the structure can be seen today. It provides an important landscape setting for the castle.

Site History

Stirling Castle was founded in the 11th century on the site of an old fortress. The buildings date from different periods in its history after it became a favourite royal residence in the 11th century. The last sovereign who resided in the castle was James VI, but it has been used on several occasions since for Royal visits. The King's Park was enclosed by William the Lion at the end of the 12th century, and the best historical account of the gardens is given in the OS Gazetteer of 1882.

"All this tract of ground is now open to the public, and walks beginning at the Mote Hill to the north extend round the base of the Castle Rock and along the wooded slopes to the SW of the old town, the principal path in this latter portion being the Back Walk with its fine trees. It was laid out in 1724 at the instigation of William Edmonstone of Cambuswallace. To the south of the Esplanade, and between it and the north-west end of this walk, is a flat-bottomed hollow now occupied by part of the cemetery, but known particularly as 'The Valley', and said to have been the ground used for tournaments and sports in the time of the Stewart Kings. A rocky eminence on the south side, called The Ladies' Rock, is traditionally the spot whence the ladies of the Court surveyed the feats of strength and skill. To the south-west of this were the Royal Gardens or Haining, now simply laid out in grass, and with but few traces of the terraces and canal that once existed, though in this respect the Government have in recent years caused considerable improvement to be made. The canal seems to have been near the line of the modern Dumbarton Road. Near the extreme SW side of the gardens is an octagonal earthen mound with terraces and a depressed centre known as the King's Knot, and probably the place where the old game called The Round Table was played. The older name of the mound seems to have been also The Round Table, and it must have been here from a very early date, for Barbour speaks of King Edward and some of his followers who had in vain sought refuge at Stirling Castle after the battle of Bannockburn 1314 going

'Rycht by the Round Table away;'

"so that it must have been there in his time; and Sir David Lindsay, in his Farewell of the Papingo (1539) also mentions it:-

'Adew fair Snawdoun, with thy towris hie,

Thy Chapill Royall, Park, and Tabill Round.

May, June, and July wald I dwell in thee,

War I ane man, to heir the birdis sound

Quhilk doth agane thy Royall Rocke resound'.

"To the south of the Knot is the King's Park, 2 miles in circumference, which was in the time of the Stewarts stocked with deer and partially wooded. It is now a stretch of fine sward used as a drill ground and public park. It was here that Argyll's army was encamped in 1715. From the higher part of the ground to the west there are excellent views. The racecourse in the north-eastern part was formed in comparatively modern times, but has been disused for a considerable period."

Features & Designations


  • Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland


Medieval Garden


  • Artificial Mound
Key Information





Principal Building

Parks, Gardens And Urban Spaces


Part: standing remains



Open to the public





  • Historic Scotland