to go back far enough to see now William Wallace entered the pages of
History. In those pages we see that the early Scottish kings had their
problems, problems that they inherited from their Celtic ancestors; they
loved fighting and they lacked organisation.
would fight either with external enemies or with themselves and so they
were unable to achieve political cohesion either in peace or war.
the wars of Malcolm III, rightly called ‘Big Head’, who reigned 1057-1093,
probably more than any other of his fellow rulers that caused the greatest
disaster. He, more than any other, caused the greatest rivalry in
Scottish History, the rivalry with the ‘Auld Enemy’. He, like his Celtic
ancestors, loved war, and his nearest enemy was the English. Five times
he led armies to the North of that country. However, in 1066 William the
Norman was not to be trifled with. When he had subdued Harold’s English
at Hastings he marched north to do the same to Scotland.
the beginning of the wars between the Kings of England and Scotland which
were to go on for many hundreds of years. Eventually there arose a
situation after the death of the Scottish King, Alexander III, when there
was no ruler. Edward I of England was asked to arbitrate and he chose a
puppet king, Baliol, who proved so unsuccessful that Edward decided to
rule Scotland directly. This resulted in the occupation of Scotland by
the English. They were soon to be seen everywhere, so much so that their
presence was felt to be an insult by many a Scotsman. Rebellious
muttering grew into rebellious actions. In 1297 a mighty champion
arose…William Wallace. According to Blind Harry, the poet, he was brave,
tall and strong with piercing eyes and fair head.
some support but he was not known well enough to attract men immediately.
After he had killed the English Sheriff of Lanark his numbers grew. With
his band of determined men he aged a guerilla campaign, swooping down from
the hills and then retiring before resistance could be organised.
success was in Lorn where he came to the aid of the MacDougalls and
MacDonalds who were being attacked by an Irish force organised by Edward
I. His action there enabled him to find a welcome in Rannoch among the
many MacDougalls here, and in Rannoch he spent some time. His house,
built of earth and turf, was close to the river and the place where it was
is now called Sheomar na Stainge--the Ditch Hall.
Rannoch he recruited more men and after they had been trained he renewed
his guerilla skirmishes. He had successes at Dunkeld and at Perth, both
places being occupied by the enemy. Finally, with quite a large army he
marched on Dundee which was one of the largest towns in Scotland at that
time. It was so big that he had to employ siege tactics. It was while he
was preparing for this that he received news that a large English army was
approaching northwards towards Stirling. So without delay he marched his
men to meet the English.
success at that battle is well-known, and he had many further successes.
However, he had not had to face Edward I in any of his previous battles,
but on 22nd July, 1298 at Falkirk he was not match for the
English king and his superior numbers and he was beaten but not disgraced.
battle the Rannoch men found their way back safely. It is a pity
Wallace did not come with them for then he would have been safe. Instead
he trusted himself to others and he was eventually betrayed.
Wallace…a brave freedom fighter…an heroic figure and never a traitor. But
he suffered the fate of one, and the people of Rannoch, if ever they
ventured to go to Perth in those troubled times, could see a fourth part
of his body hanging in a gibbet there, for he was hanged, drawn and
quartered, his head reserved for London Bridge, and his body divided
between Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling and Perth.