William Wallace and the Wallace Monument
The Scottish Legend William Wallace was originally a knight & landowner most famous for his victory against the English at the battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. It was here that the Scots army led by Wallace & his co-leader Andrew Moray were outnumbered by an English army of over 11,000. Wallace became the Guardian of Scotland until his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk in 1305. Transported to London & handed over to King Edward 1, Wallace was put on tried for treason, his response was "I could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject", he then stated that the absent John Balliol was officially his king. Found Guilty Wallace was stripped naked & dragged through London by horse. He was then hung, drawn & quartered. As a warning to others, his limbs were separated & displayed throughout Scotland & England and his head placed on a pike on top fo the London Bridge. Mel Gibson played him in the film Braveheart.
William Wallace was a National Hero who is, thanks to Hollywood, well-known all over the world. However, the truth of the whole story is a bit different than shown in the movie “Braveheart”. Born in 1272, William Wallace was one of three sons of Sir Malcolm Wallace and Margaret de Crauford. His family probably originated from Ness nearby the English border. They were probably vassals of the powerful Fitz-Alan family. Today there is a memorial on the land the family owned at Elderslie. Not much is known about William Wallace’ early years. He had 2 brothers. The elder brother was named Malcolm and the younger one John. After the death of his dad, William was brought up by his uncle who lived in Dunipace. Later he probably got some military experience and was well educated as his uncle taught him French and Latin.
William Wallace is a typical example of unbending commitment to Scotland’s independence. It is in 1297 when Wallace killed the English sheriff in the town of Lanark in 1297. It is said that his motivation was for the slaying of his sweetheart. From 1297 he has his own army and joins forces with Andrew Murray. In the same year Wallace and Andrew besiege the Castle of Dundee. As result the English sent an army against them. It comes to a battle between both armies at the Bridge over the River Forth in Stirling. Unfortunately Murray received many wounds and died during the battle. The rocky hills were William Wallace’ base and now the Wallace Monument can be visited there. Other men joined Wallace and together they were able to drive away the English. At the Kirk of the Forest Wallace was made the “Guardian of Scotland” and was knighted.
1298, Edward I who was English King also known as “Longshanks” sent a great army to Scotland and it came to a battle in Falkirk. The Scottish army was defeated during the battle and Wallace had to escape to France where he searched for support. He went to France and Rome hoping to receive some help. When he returned to Scotland in 1303 he realised that he had to start from scratch again to fight back against the English. While fighting back Wallace was betrayed and captured nearby Glasgow in 1305. First he was taken to Dumbarton Castle and later to London. In Westminster Hall his sham trial took place and Wallace was charged with treason which he denied. He was then tied to the tails of horses which dragged him to Smithfield Elms where he was hung and cut down. His parts of the body were sent to Scotland and his head stuck on a spike on Old London Bridge.
After many centuries Wallace still lives on in the hearts of Scots and is one of Scotland’s heroes. The Wallace Monument in Stirling is a special exhibition of William Wallace and a National landmark constructed in the 1860s. Besides displaying the story of William Wallace, there is a “Hall of Heroes“, a gallery with all Scottish Heroes from Robert the Bruce to Sir Walter Scott. Standing on the Abbey Craig, the view from the top of the building is breathtaking. You can see the city of Stirling with Ben Lomond and the Trossachs in the background and on the other side the Ochil Hills. There is also a coffee and gift shop at the visitor car park. For more information about the city Stirling and things to do have a look on the Stirling Page.