The National Wallace Monument Welcomes 135,000 Visitors In 2017

Stirling’s National Wallace Monument has felt the effects of a strong year for Scotland’s tourism sector as it welcomed over 135,000 visitors in 2017.

With the highest number of visitors for over ten years, the attraction has generated an estimated gross direct contribution to the local economy of over £4.5m during what has been an unforgettable year.

Throughout 2017, Stirling District Tourism, the charity responsible for the running of the Monument, has continued to make significant investments in the 148-year-old Scottish landmark, including improvements to the Abbey Craig and new displays inside The Hall of Heroes.

Commenting on this year’s successful performance, Zillah Jamieson, Chair of Stirling District Tourism, said: “Our goal has always been to keep The National Wallace Monument at the heart of culture, education and heritage in Stirling. The visitor numbers which have been recorded this year, and the Monument’s contribution to the local economy reflect how this is being achieved.”

The stand-out year began with an initiative that captured the hearts and minds of the public across the globe – who cast their votes for ‘Scotland’s Heroines’, selecting Mary Slessor and Maggie Keswick Jencks as the first females who will be commemorated in The Hall of Heroes.

2017 also saw extensive renovations completed on the Abbey Craig, the hill on which the famous landmark stands, with the main pathway leading to the Monument upgraded, and the ‘Wallace Way’ opened with its collection of 11 specially created woodcarvings.

The Abbey Craig was also the setting for an expanded programme of visitor events, which included a celebration of Wallace’s victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge and ‘Knock on History’s Door’ – a special event where the doors were opened after hours for an exclusive evening tour.

Stirling District Tourism also welcomed David Mitchell, Director of Conservation at Historic Environment Scotland, to the charity’s Board of Directors this year. Using his expertise, David will be involved in the conservation and development plans the Charity has in the pipeline with Stirling Council.

2018 is set to be another important year for the charity, as it continues to make improvements to the attraction and looks ahead to the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Monument, in 2019. Zillah Jamieson explained: “As a key part of Stirling’s heritage tourism infrastructure, we pride ourselves on the quality of the visitor experience and we are always looking for ways to make improvements to the Monument.

“The performance of the Monument this year means that we are able to take forward our investment plans for the attraction. We look forward to revealing the next phase of the Scotland’s Heroines project in the new year, as well as finalizing our plans for 2019, when we will mark 150 years of the Monument telling the story of Scotland’s National Hero.”

Wallace’s Wife Marion Braidfute Was Invented?

Marion Braidfute, wife of William Wallace, was a fictional character concocted by medieval biographers, a leading historian has claimed. Braidfute, who was supposedly murdered by the Sheriff of Lanark, triggering Wallace’s rebellion against the English, was created more than 200 years after his death to heighten the political standing of a noble family, according to new research.

In Mel Gibson’s 1995 film Braveheart, the brutal murder of Wallace’s wife (whose name was changed to Murron MacClannough, and was played by the actress Catherine McCormack) is portrayed as a pivotal moment in his transformation into a revolutionary hero. However, Ed Archer, an authority on Wallace, has found no mention of her in the earliest accounts of his life Blind Harry’s “The Wallace,” an epic poem written in about 1508, refers to a woman called Innes, who is credited with helping Wallace escape from the clutches of English troops. There is no suggestion that she was his lover or his wife. Braidfute does not appear until 1570, in a revised edition of Blind Harry’s poem, possibly commissioned by the Baillies of Lamington, a wealthy family from Lanark who hoped to ingratiate themselves with Mary, Queen of Scots by claiming to be Wallace’s descendants. In the revised text, Braidfute, from Lamington, Lanarkshire, is described as Wallace’s lover and the mother of his daughter, from whom the Baillies of Lamington claim to be descended.

However, a study by Archer of contemporary historical records found no mention of any Braidfutes living in the area at the end of the 13th century. “Dispelling the myth of Marion is important because we should try to get at the truth beyond the romance that surrounds Wallace,” said Archer. “What lies at the heart of this is the political aspiration of a local, minor aristocratic family who wanted to gain favour at the court of Mary Queen of Scots by claiming to be descended from William Wallace. “There is still mileage in Wallace and there are still things to be discovered about him. People have avoided Blind Harry’s 1508 version of the Wallace story because it is not an easy read.”

Ian Scott, Chairman of The Saltire Society, said he was surprised by Archer’s discovery. “The story of Wallace’s wife and what happened to her is thought of as a trigger event in his life and is key to the story of the man himself,” he said. “New discoveries will continue to be made about Wallace’s life because so little of the hard historical fact is known.” John Murtagh, who played the turncoat nobleman Lochlan in Braveheart, said he had always believed that Wallace’s wife was a symbolic figure. “To me his wife has always been a metaphor for Scotland itself,” he said. “And so when the English try to rape, and then murder her, it is symbolic of the way Scotland was treated.”

Little is known about Wallace’s life before 1297, when he killed Sir William Heselrig, the English-appointed Sheriff of Lanark, and then led a popular uprising. His greatest victory took place at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, at which he routed the English army and was later proclaimed Guardian of Scotland. Archer presented his findings last year, at a conference on Wallace’s life hosted by the Lanark Archaeological Trust, part of a series of events commemorating the 700th anniversary of Wallace’s death.

As originally published in the Guardian, Spring 2006

The Lost Loudoun Sword

the loudoun swordWilliam Wallace’s “Other” Sword: The Lost Loudoun Sword

Mr. John G. McGill, FSAScot, resident of Riccarton, Scotland, has located a priceless piece of Scotland’s heritage: a long missing sword that belonged to Sir William Wallace.

“It is the Loudoun Wallace Sword which was a gift from the Hanseatic League in Lubeck to Wallace, as a symbol of his authority. After Sir William Wallace’s execution 701 years ago, tradition has it that his sword passed to Wallace’s mother, Lady Margaret Crauford Wallace. From her, the sword passed down through many generations and into the 20th century, being kept all this time at Loudoun Castle, near Galston.

In 1930 the Loudoun Wallace Sword was sold to J.H. Watson of Grangehill, Beith. Although the family no longer live in Ayrshire, the sword is still in Scotland in the ownership of the buyer’s family. It is believed that the family are considering the best future for the sword. Says Mr. McGill: The importance of this item to Scotland as a nation cannot be over stressed. It has no blood on it. It was never a weapon of war. It was a symbol of Scotland’s independence and of the authority of Scotland’s leaders and their faith in electing Sir William Wallace as Guardian of Scotland.”

John explained the origins of the sword; “When he was appointed as Guardian of Scotland, Sir William Wallace went to Europe to reacquaint the Hanseatic League, the equivalent of the EEC in it’s day, with Scotland as a trading nation, free again to do business. He carried with him a letter which he preappearances.” The first was in 1822 during the only visit to Scotland by King George IV. The second appearance was in 1930 when it was put up for sale. The third was in 1972 after someone stole the better-known Wallace sword from the monument in Stirling.

“An enterprising national newspaper tracked down the owner of the Loudoun Wallace Sword for a publicity feature in the hope that the stolen one would turn up. “Although hidden all these years there is a tremendous interest in this sword and of course in Wallace.” “I have no influence on any decision by the present owners, but if it is to be put on display, even on a ‘temporary loan’ I can think of only one place where such an important relic should go on display. After all, it is a symbol of authority and of our nationhood.’”

Mr. McGill, who is also published under the nom de plume “Craufuird C. Loudoun,” assures that the Wallace Loudoun Sword is still in Scotland and while he cannot reveal its exact location, he hopes that the current owners will put it on public display. When questioned about the number of Wallace swords in existence and he believes there are possibly four. The one in the archives at the Wallace Monument, the replica on display at the Wallace Monument which was created after the original was stolen in 1972, the current Loudoun Sword, and a possible fourth in the Wallace Collection in London.

As originally published in the Guardian, Winter 2006


It should be noted there were several recent articles regarding the Loudoun Sword in the Scottish Daily Mail and the Herald on October 2, 2017.  Both stated the sword was sold to a person name Moffat and not a man named Watson.  Sean Donnelly, of the Society of William Wallace, said “The Loudoun sword is a 13th century type claymore, so it even looks more true than the Wallace sword everyone knows.  The trail of the sword has gone cold after the passing of Mr Moffat.  Our biggest concern is it is no longer in the country.

Where the sword truly is is a mystery that may never be solved.

It should also be noted that the Loudoun Castle Theme Park which hosted the huge replica of the sword pictured above permanently closed in 2010.

“The Tribute” : A poem by Garry T. Garland

“The Tribute” : A poem by Garry T. Garland

Of all the men in Scotland’s past
The memory of one will forever last
He so loved by kin and kind
A more loyal man one couldn’t find

A man of pride and great height
There is no doubt he put many to flight
Northumberland Percy was shown no mercy
In the midst of the fray at Bell “o“ the Brae

At Stirling Bridge he won the fight
Perhaps he deemed it a Scotsman’s right
Face to face with Plantagenet
Edward trembled even to imagine it

Along the path of destiny he did stride
His dear friend Kerlie by his side
Sadly betrayed by one of his own
This once Guardian of our throne

In his enemy’s captivity he died
His death in no way dignified
Leal Scots would pray he found solace
These words a tribute to William Wallace

As originally published in The Guardian, Autumn 2005