Cowane's Hospital – Stirling, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

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Cowane's Hospital

This figure of a local merchant is said to reanimate and do a dance during Hogmanay.  


Located a few yards from the fortress that overlooks the town of Stirling lies a building that was donated to this hamlet to ensure that the less fortunate had a place to be healed and looked after. This structure known as Cowane’s Hospital was named after the benefactor, John Cowane. 

He bequeathed a small fortune to the construction of a building that would house 12 men of various guilds who had fallen on hard times. Ironically, this 17th-century structure is located between the Old Town Jail and the Church of The Holy Rude. It’s believed that Cowane was in a scandal that involved having a child out of wedlock. He faced a fine. It’s also believed that he acted as a privateer when business slowed. 

Besides providing a meaningful place of refuge, this is not the reason the building gained a reputation among the townsfolk. Legend has it that at the stroke of 12 midnight on Hogmanay, New Year’s Eve, the statue of “Auld Staneybreeks” is said to come to life and dance. This is the nickname given to the statue of Cowane that adorns the entrance to the hospital and refers to the figure’s stone trousers.

Though the building no longer serves as an almshouse or guildhall, it does have a cafe that provides snacks and liquid refreshments. The structure recently underwent a series of refurbishments and is free to enter. 

Know Before You Go

The hall is open to the public every day from May to October – 10:00 am - 4:30 pm.
During November to April – 10:30 am - 5:00 pm from Tuesday to Sunday.

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July 5, 2021

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