The somewhat mysterious Star Pyramid is a striking stone memorial to the martyrs of the Scottish Reformation and Covenanting Era. Located to the southeast of Stirling Castle, it sits on the boundary between Drummond Pleasure Ground and the Valley Cemetery. It was commissioned by William Drummond around 1863 and built in the same year by a well-known local stone mason and sculpture, William Barclay. It is also known as the Martyrs Monument and occasionally as Salem Rock. Set on a stone base positioned at the top of a grass-covered mound, it is large constructed from grey ashlar sandstone. A further two steps lead up to the base and are currently surrounded by a wrought iron fence. To the South two large stone spheres carved with lines of latitude and longitude flank a set of six steps leading up the hill to the monument. Strangely, the entrance through the fence to the monument is located on the opposite side to the stairs. The stone sphere each used to be the base for a large bronze eagle but these disappeared some time during the 1970’s.
Four white marble bibles are positioned on the base adjacent to the monument each one facing outwards and centrally aligned to match the four vertical sides of the pyramid. The open marble pages are each inscribed with a text from the bible. Each side of the Star pyramid is decorated with the same three features: an inset marble rosette, a thistle and a crown. The very centre of the structure is said to be hollow and that this contains a Bible and a Confession of Faith that were sealed in the monument by William Drummond as the building neared completion.
The site of the pyramid was once used for jousting tournaments during the middle ages and is near to Ladies Rock where the women of the court would sit to watch the festivals and competitions.
The Masonic Connection:
There are also a number of factors that strongly suggest that the Star Pyramid has important masonic connections. The pyramid itself was, and still is, an import masonic symbol and often used to symbolise stability and endurance. Each side of the structure is aligned 33 degrees off a perfect north south alignment. Positioned roughly 1/3rd from the ground on each of the sides is an inset marble rosette often used I masonic symbolism to mean love, joy and silence. A further 1/3rd above this is the symbol of a thistle which in turn is 1/3rd lower than the apex where the symbol of a crown can be found.
Local folklore holds that within the monument are also the bones of an eccentric Scottish stonemason from the region who mysteriously disappeared around the same time the pyramid was erected. However, his name has been forgotten and the story was probably made up to thrill Georgian and Victorian cemetery tourists who had developed a fascination for the gothic and macabre.
Lack of Christian Symbols
Strangely. The monument has no obvious Christian symbolism and does not feature a crucifix on the main structure even though it is a memorial to Christians who died for their reformist and covenanter beliefs. However, this may have more to do with the fact that, at the time, Presbyterianism played down the use of the crucifix.
Ladies Rock & the Pink Spectre
The site of the pyramid was once used for jousting tournaments during the middle ages and is near to Ladies Rock where the women of the court would sit to watch the festivals and competitions. Both the castle and this area are said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman dressed in faintly pink medieval costume. Some paranormal researches have suggested that she was probably killed accidentally during one of the tournaments although there is no official record of this ever happening.
Although the monument is often referred to as Salem Rock there is no obvious reason for this name. The only available connection is the fact that a number of women were once executed near this spot for being witches around the same time as the Salem witch trials in America. If anyone reading this knows more about this enigmatic name we’d very much like to hear from you.
Camping in the Forest Campsite
Station Road, Gartmore
Stirlingshire, Scotland, FK8 3RR
+44 (0)1877 382 392
- Address: Castle Car Park, Castle Wynd, Stirling, Stirlingshire, Scotland, UK, FK8 1EJ
- GPS: 56.1221,-3.945502778
- Part of UK: Scotland
- Sat Nav Postcode: FK8 1EJ
- Entrance Fees: Free Access
- Disabled Access: Via the 'Back Walk' only / Not fully up to monument
- Visibility from Road: Excellent (Castle Car Park)
- Image Credits: Header Image: Heartland Arts