Falkirk (pronounced//; Scottish Gaelic: is a town in the Central Lowlands of Scotland. It lies in the Forth Valley, almost midway between the two most populous cities of Scotland; 23.3 miles (37.5 km) north-west of Edinburgh and 20.5 miles (33.0 km) north-east of Glasgow.
Falkirk had a resident population of 32,422 at the 2001 census. The population of the town had risen to 34,570 according to a 2008 estimate, making it the 20th most populous settlement in Scotland. Falkirk is the main town and administrative centre of the Falkirk council area, which has an overall population of 145,191 and inholds the nearby towns of Grangemouth, Bo'ness, Denny, Larbert andStenhousemuir.
The town lies at the junction of the Forth and Clyde Canal and the Union Canal, a location which proved key to the growth of Falkirk as a centre of heavy industry during the Industrial Revolution. In the 18th and 19th centuries Falkirk was at the centre of the iron andsteel industry, underpinned by the Carron Company in the nearby village of Carron. The company was responsible for making Carronades for the Royal Navy and also later many UK pillar boxes. In the last 50 years heavy industry has waned, and the economy of the town relies increasingly on retail and tourism. Despite this, Falkirk remains the home of many international companies likeAlexander Dennis, the largest bus production company in the United Kingdom.
Falkirk has a long association with the publishing industry. Johnston Press was established in the town in 1846. The company is the second-largest regional publisher in the United Kingdom and produces the Falkirk Herald, the largest selling weekly newspaper in Scotland.
Attractions in and around Falkirk include the Falkirk Wheel, Callendar House and Park and remnants of the Antonine Wall. Soon to be a feature of the town is the Falkirk Helix, a new recreational area with walk and cycle paths with the main attraction being a new boat lift and extension to the Forth and Clyde Canal.
The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift in Scotland. It connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. Named after the nearby town of Falkirk in central Scotland, the lift opened in 2002.
Callendar House is a mansion set within the grounds of Callendar Park in Falkirk, central Scotland. Its present form, in the style of aFrench Renaissance château, the French Renaissance Revival Châteauesque structure dates from the 19th century. At its core is a 14th-century tower house.
During its 600-year history, Callendar House has played host to many prominent historical figures, including Mary, Queen of Scots,Oliver Cromwell, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Queen Victoria. The current building is by far the most substantial historical building in the area, with a 300 ft (91 m) frontage. It is protected as a category A listed building, and the grounds are included in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland, the national listing of significant gardens.
The Antonine Wall is a stone and turf fortification built by the Romans across what is now the Central Belt ofScotland, between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde. Representing the northernmost frontier barrier of the Roman Empire, it spanned approximately 63 km (39 miles) and was about 3 m (10 feet) high and 5 m (15 feet) wide. Security was bolstered by a deep ditch on the northern side. The barrier was the second of two "great walls" created by the Romans in Northern Britain. Its ruins are less evident than the better knownHadrian's Wall to the south.
Construction began in 142 AD at the order of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, and took about 12 years to complete.
Pressure from the Caledonians may have led Antoninus to send the empire's troops further north. The wall was protected by 16 forts with a number of small fortlets between them; troop movement was facilitated by a road linking all the sites known as the Military Way. The soldiers who built the wall commemorated the construction and their struggles with the Caledonians in a number of decorative slabs, twenty of which still survive. Despite this auspicious start the wall was abandoned after only 20 years, and the garrisons relocated back to Hadrian's Wall. In 208 Emperor Septimius Severus re-established legions at the wall and ordered repairs; this has led to the wall being referred to as the Severan Wall. However, the occupation ended only a few years later, and the wall was never fortified again. Most of the wall and its associated fortifications have been destroyed over time, but some remains are still visible. Many of these have come under the care of Historic Scotland and the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.