The monument consists of Stirling Castle and its immediate setting.
Stirling Castle is a strongly-fortified royal castle occupying a volcanic outcrop which commands the upper Forth valley. The defences define three main enclosures: the outer defences (on the main line of approach), the main enclosure (at the summit of the rock) and the
nether bailey (to the N). The principal buildings for royal
occupation form a square enclosed by the King's Old Building, the
Great Hall, the Chapel Royal and the Palace.
The rock has been fortified since at least the 12th century, and probably for long before that, in view of the defensive and strategic advantages of its location. The earliest surviving building is
probably the N gate, built for Robert II in the 1370s. The outer defences (1708-14) incorporate part of an important early artillery bastion and flanking works, probably built for Mary of Guise c.1559. Before that the main frontispiece of the castle was James IV's
Forework of c.1500, built along what may have been a natural rock fissure. James IV was also primarily responsible for the formation of the main royal enclave, the Upper Square, on the summit. His
apartment, the King's Old Building of the 1490s, formed the W side of the square, facing which is his Great Hall. James IV also probably planned a new Chapel Royal on the N side of the square, but the
existing building was constructed by James VI in 1594. The fourth
side of the square is formed by the Palace, built by James V in the 1530s and 1540s. The defences of the Nether Bailey, on a lower
terrace N of the main enclosure, are probably largely of the 16th and 17th centuries, and enclose 19th-century buildings including
magazines. The castle was extensively adapted after the Union of 1603
as a garrison, with particularly significant changes at the period of the 1689 Revolution and the wars with France c.1800. The esplanade
was laid out in the early 19th century.
The area to be scheduled is defined by the base of the castle rock on the W, the W edge of Ballengeich Pass and Upper Castle Hill on the E, the S edge of Ballengeich Road on the N, and by the outer face of the boundary wall of the Esplanade in the S. It is irregular on plan, measuring a maximum of 560m NW-SE by 220m, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract.