William Wallace is a National Hero 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” in which Mel Gibson played Wallace.
Born in 1272, William Wallace was one of three sons of Sir Malcolm Wallace and Margaret de Crauford. His family probably originated from Ness near the English border. Today there is a memorial on the land the family owned at Elderslie near Glasgow. 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 father, 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 was in 1297 when Wallace killed the English sheriff in the town of Lanark. It is said that his motivation was for the slaying of his sweetheart. From 1297 he had his own army and joined forces with Andrew Murray. In the same year Wallace and Andrew besiege the Castle of Dundee. As a result, the English sent an army against them. It lead to a battle between both armies at the Bridge over the River Forth in Stirling. Unfortunately, Murray was badly wounded and died during the battle. Others joined Wallace and together they were able to drive back the English. At the Kirk of the Forest Wallace was made the “Guardian of Scotland” and was knighted.
In 1298, Edward I who was the English King also known as “Longshanks”, sent an army to Scotland and at the battle of Falkirk, the Scottish army was defeated and Wallace had to escape to France where he gathered support. He traveled to France and Rome before returning to Scotland in 1303 and realized that he had to start from scratch again to fight the English. Wallace was betrayed and captured in Glasgow in 1305 and 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, drawn and quartered. Parts of the body were sent to the corners of 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 National landmark which was 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 centre. For more information about the city Stirling and things to do have a look at the Stirling Page.