The story of Wallace poured a Scottish prejudice into my veins which will boil along till the floodgates of time shut in eternal rest.
For William Wallace, Scottish patriot, the floodgates of life closed on that terrible day in 1305 when, after a cynical mock trial at Westminster Hall in London, he was dragged through the streets as a treacherous outlaw to barbarous execution at Smithfield. Edward I of England wanted the destruction of Wallace's name and reputation as well as physical presence, but inadvertently created a hero and martyr.
The name of William Wallace as freedom fighter takes on immense fascination and significance at certain times, not only for Scots, but for many abroad. This is one of those times, certainly helped on by a recent hugely successful film and a best-selling biography.
This year marks 700 years since Wallace, at Lanark, "first drew sword to free his native land", and instigated the Scottish War of Independence. Over 80 places throughout Scotland claim a direct association with Wallace, reflecting his national campaign and the myths that have grown in his name.
This is an attempt to outline the historical truth of Wallace as we know it, then look at the developing myth. Interestingly enough, the sources themselves are part of what has become a larger story. In this kind of study truth and myth are in the end inseparable, since over generations they have inter-related, and belief patterns have become a kind of history. Consider the Scotland's Liberator exhibition at the Smith Gallery in Stirling, the Wallace 700 events at Lanark, preparations for Carrick 800 in Ayrshire, the continuing vocal claims at Elderslie in Renfrew for the birthplace of Wallace - all absorb and present truth and myth in their own way. What continues is a deep identification with a