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.