Braveheart of Scotland: William Wallace

History Facts

Where: Stirling, central Scotland, Great Britain

When: 13th Century – influence felt to this day

History: Braveheart’s bold winning bridge side battle against English conquestors – symbolising the freedom of the nation

Go There For: The real story behind the Hollywood myth Scotland had always had a complex relationship with England, known as ‘The Old Enemy’. Before unification in 1707, the Scots fought valiantly against the English invaders. Scotland’s national hero is William Wallace led successful guerrilla campaigns against the English in the late 13th century, before his eventual betrayal, and his story became the award winning Mel Gibson Hollywood movie – Braveheart.

Battle Cries and Betrayal

The Battle of Stirling Bridge was the first crucial face-to-face battle and was said to have “formed the key which would unlock the two halves of Scotland”. Although the Scots were vastly outnumbered, they used the strategy of waiting till the English were on the tiny Stirling bridge before striking, the English were then trapped as they could not turn back and reinforcements could not pass, and they were set against the vulnerability of the river. After this, Wallace denied himself kingship, and only sort to restore Baliol (ruling clan including Robert the Bruce), although he was later knighted and became the sole Guardian of Scotland. He tried everything in his power to keep Scotland from King Edward and the English, from politics and diplomacy to direct guerrilla attacks. William Wallace was finally betrayed and captured in 1305 at Robroyston farm, on the outskirts of Glasgow. Legend has it that his last drink of water as a free man was taken at the nearby well, now called ‘Wallace’s Well‘. He was tried for treason in London, where he was hung, cut into four, and his remains strewn over Britain to shame Scotland, so his precious body could not be preserved by his nation.

Discovering Braveheart Today

Today Wallace is the figurehead for Scottish independence and they still hold him as one of their strongest national figures. Nowadays you can view the Wallace Monument, which is located two miles north of Stirling. After you have climbed the 200ft to the top of the monument, you will have a breathtaking view of the region. The monument itself contains an array of information about other Scottish hero as well as Wallace’s mighty two-handed sword. For many, Wallace is the spirit of Scotland, and represents all that is great about the wild land. Even the great Scots poet Robert Burns said of him, “The story of Wallace poured a Scottish prejudice into my veins which will boil along till the floodgates of time shut in eternal rest.” He has become a symbol, not only for Scots, but for freedom fighters throughout the world.

More Information

Sir William Wallace of Ellerslie Information about William Wallaces life and battles

Mac Braveheart  Dedicated to keeping alive the spirit of Braveheart, the Mel Gibson movie, and to the interest in Scottish history and identity which Braveheart has helped awaken.

By Susi O’Neill