Born in Elderslie in the 1270s, William Wallace was a freedom fighter for Scotland and Ireland against England, near the end of the 13th century.
My interest in Scottish history had something of a major resurgence following the release of the 1995 motion picture "Braveheart", which was a most enjoyable movie but not historically exact.
As you would expect in a Hollywood production, fact and fiction were somewhat distorted for the sake of drama, and in one instance, impossible.
Regarding the implication that Wallace was the father of Edward III, born to Isabella of France, with whom he supposedly had a romance, was very far off the mark, considering that Isabella was only 10 years old when William Wallace died, and Edward III was born seven years after Wallace's death.
Getting back to the facts, William Wallace was brought up by his uncle in Dunipace, after his father died when he was a boy. He was to continue his father's fight and he raised an army against King Edward I of England.
King Edward had dismissed any talk of Scottish Independence, and viewed Wallace as an outlaw. Rebellion followed, and many men joined forces with Wallace as he began to drive the English out of Perthshire and Fife.
In May 1297, Wallace attacked the town of Lanark, killing the English sheriff, apparently to avenge the death of Marion Braidfute of Lamington, (the woman who became his wife in the film).
Much blood was spilled up to, including, and after the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. The battle took place on the 10th September, and Wallace and his men, heavily outnumbered, had occupied the high ground of Ochil Hills, which would force Edward’s army to fight uphill.
One last plea from the King's spokesman, asking Wallace to surrender was met with defiance, with Wallace replying :
"Tell your king that William Wallace will NOT be ruled. Lower your flags and march straight back to England, stopping at every home to beg forgiveness for a hundred years of theft, rape, and murder."
William Wallace was victorious, and in December of that year, he was elected Guardian of the Kingdom and uncrowned ruler of Scotland.
He assembled his army on Roslin Moor, marched south into Northumberland, and meticulously ravaged the counties of Durham, Northumbria, and Cumbria, taking anything of value back over the border.
A further raid took place in 'the Barns of Ayr' with Wallace and his men setting fire to the camp, and burning 500 English soldiers in a revenge attack for the murder of his uncle.
The English King brought a large army to Falkirk in May the following year, 1298, and goaded Wallace into fighting a second battle. This time Wallace was defeated and in September resigned as Guardian of Scotland in favour of Robert the Bruce. He fled to France in 1299.
Wallace returned from France in 1303 and did well to evade capture by the English until 5 August 1305. His capture was the result of an act of betrayal by John de Menteith, a Scottish knight loyal to Edward, who turned him over to the English soldiers at Robroyston.
He was first taken to Dumbarton Castle, and then to London under heavy guard, and tried for treason. William Wallace was then ceremoniously paraded through the streets of the city, like some sort of trophy.
He was hung, drawn and quartered. His head was placed on a pike at the top of
London Bridge, and his limbs displayed separately, in Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling, and Aberdeen. Edward hoped that this public display would deter all insurgents, but one Robert the Bruce had other ideas.
The Bruce family had no connection with the capture of Wallace, indeed the name "Braveheart" was originally intended for Robert the Bruce.
Bruce, previously fuelled by his own personal ambition, was now ready to play his part in the struggle for Scotland’s independence, and his finest hour was to come in 1314 at the Battle of Bannockburn, when he was victorious over Edward's army, despite being outnumbered three to one.
The Wallace Monument was completed in 1869 on the Abbey Craig, where Wallace had watched the English army gather at Stirling Bridge.
The monument has a visitor pavillion with coffee shop, gift shops, and free car parking. There is an audio tour available in five languages which lets you re-live Wallace's life and trial. The Wallace sword is on display here.
"It's all for nothing if you don't have freedom" - William Wallace
Monument Opening Times
January - March 10:30am - 4:00pm
April - June 10:30am - 5:00pm
July & Aug 10:00am - 6:00pm
September & October 10:00am - 5:00pm
November & december 10:30am - 4:00pm
Family (2 Adults and 2 Children) £17.00
Group of 10 or more 10% discount
School Groups £2.50
Clips from the movie 'Braveheart'. A tribute to William Wallace, ending with Robert the Bruce leading the Scots to victory at Bannockburn.
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