Statues and Monuments: William Wallace

William Wallace (engraving of the late 17th or 18th century)
Source: (Public Domain)

William Wallace was a member of the lower Scottish nobility. He was born in 1270 and fought in the wars of Independence against England. After leading the Scottish army to victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, he was appointed the governor of Scotland, a post which he held until his defeat at Falkirk the following year when he resigned in favour of Robert the Bruce. Wallace is believed to have left Scotland and travelled for several years around the courts of Europe, pleading the Scottish case against the King Of England.

By 1304, he was back in Scotland, fighting the English invaders. In August 1305 he was captured by a Scottish Lord, who supported the English King and handed over to the English forces. He was brought to London and tried for treason and war atrocities. He responded to the charge that he could never have committed treason as he was not a subject of the King of England. He was found guilty and was executed at Smithfield.

This memorial was unveiled in April 1856 near the site of Wallace’s execution.


  1. The cult of Wallace fascinates me. I have visited (and written about) the memorial in Smithfield, the astonishing monument overlooking his victory at Stirling Bridge and the place where he was captured. Unlike many of his noble compatriots, Wallace seems to have been a man who was sure of his principles. Yet his time in history was very brief – compared to, say, Bruce; and he did not succeed.

    1. I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact that he was a leader not taken from the higher nobility, unusual for those times, and thus he became a popular folk hero rather like Robin Hood in England.

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