10 fascinating facts about… Falkirk

Falkirk is a beautiful and incredibly important Scottish town which is often often overlooked.

It has a hugely rich history that includes everything from important battles to engineering feats.

So whether you are planning on a visit to Falkirk, or just want to learn a little bit more about Scottish history, here are ten facts you (probably) didnā€™t know about the town.


The Falkirk Wheel is often referred to as a feat in Scottish engineering; it is the first, and only, rotating boat lift that connects the two canals which allow you to navigate central Scotland. When the Wheel was opened, in 2002, there was nothing like it built anywhere in the world. The Falkirk Wheel towers at 35m (115ft) high, with both gondolas containing approximately 300 tonnes of water; 600 tonnes in total!


The Falkirk Steeple was built in 1814 at a contract price of Ā£1660, and since then has dominated the skyline at 43m high (141ft). In 1927 the steeple was struck by lightning which caused its spire to be destroyed, with parts of the roof being scattered in all directions. The steeple has since been restored, and is now considered one of Falkirkā€™s most symbolic built heritage structures. It features on Falkirk Football Club’s badge.


Falkirk has been home to some of Scotlandā€™s most well-known and talented people. Charles Napier, a renowned Royal Navy Officer, was born in Falkirk and went on to lead a heroic lifeā€™ he fought in many wars including the Crimean war and Napoleonic war and was awarded the Order of the Tower and Sword to celebrate his service. Other famous people include George Forrest, a famous botanist; and Sir Henry Wade, a Scottish military and urological surgeon.


In another engineering feat, Falkirk is the location for the 30m high sculptures depicting two horse heads; the Kelpies. They were built as a monument to the horse powered heritage that Scotland holds in industry and economy. The Kelpies are made from 300 tonnes of stainless steel, and took from June to October of 2013 to construct. The Kelpies were named after mythological transforming water beasts that contain the strength of 10 horses.


Falkirk has held a significantly strategic military position throughout history and has been host to some important battles. These include the Battle of Falkirk and the Battle of Falkirk Muir. The former saw the defeat of possibly the most famous Scottish hero, William Wallace, by King Edward I of England in July 1298. Shortly after this battle, Wallace resigned as Guardian of Scotland.


In its time, Falkirk has won many prizes. Most recently, it has been recognised as having the ā€˜best walking neighbourhoodā€™ in the whole of the UK, claiming 20% of the total vote. The town also won a gold certificate in the ā€˜Beautiful Scotland Awardsā€™ and became the competitions overall winners for the second time. These are only a couple of the many awards Falkirk has received recognising its stunning landscapes and endearing community.


One of the best preserved Roman forts lies along the section of the Antonine Wall that passes by Falkirk. While Rough Castle, as it is known, is the second smallest of the settlements it is the one that gives the most insight into the lives of the Roman conquerors from the first century AD. Distinctive features include the defensive Lilia pits that the Romans would have used as a defensive measure, placing a sharpened stake in each one.


Falkirkā€™s Rosebank Distillery was founded in 1798 by the Stark Brothers with a warehouse capable of storing up to 500,000 gallons of whisky. The distillery went through a long history of being put out of business and then being reopened again; in 2008, when it was about to be reopened using the original equipment, the original Rosebank Stills were stolen by thieves and never recovered. The distillery is due to reopen again in the autumn of 2020.


Those who live in Falkirk are known as ā€˜the Bairnsā€™: this was after the 18th century when the well known motto ā€˜better meddle with the deil than the bairns of Falkirkā€™ became commonly used. The town itself has also had some interesting names as well; it was originally known as Egglesbrech from the Gaelic language, meaning ā€˜the speckled churchā€™. This then changed to Fawkirk and eventually was translated to a more modern version as it is now known as Falkirk.


Bonnybridge is a small village within the Falkirk council, and it has been claimed to be a hot spot for UFO spotting in Britain, with people even going as far as to claim it is a gateway to another dimension. There have been many accounts of people claiming to see strange lights and large spherical objects; there have been 300 claims a year on average.