EARLIEST MEMORIAL TO WILLIAM WALLACE?
Some careful historical detective work has uncovered what appears to be the earliest
memorial in Scotland dedicated to William Wallace.
The carved stone is one of a pair to be found close to the Almondell Country Park, near
Livingston in West Lothian. The William Wallace stone carries an inscription in Latin
dedicating it to Wallace and the date 15th October 1784. The second stone carries an
inscription in English dedicating the surrounding forest to Sir Simon Fraser, and the same
Investigations by Russell Parker of the Battle of Falkirk Working Group have revealed that
the stones were erected by the 11th Earl of Buchan, David Stewart Erskine and his wife
Margaret Fraser of Frasersfield in Aberdeenshire, who owned the estate at that time. The
Earls fascination with William Wallace is well known, and he was responsible for the
large statue of Wallace erected at Dryburgh in the Borders in
Further work was needed to track down the correct Sir Simon Fraser, as the name reoccurs
regularly in the Fraser bloodline. However, there was one Sir Simon who was closely
associated with Wallace. He was Sir Simon Fraser of Oliver and Neidpath, who fought by
Wallaces side and at the side of Bruce. Sir Simon was captured by the English either
at or soon after the Battle of Methven in June 1306 and, aged forty-nine, was sentenced to
death by the same judges who sentenced Wallace and a number of other Scots to the same
fate. He was executed in the same barbaric way as Wallace had been a year earlier and his
head was stuck on a spear on London Bridge beside that of Wallace. At the time the
execution of Fraser raised far more of an outcry than had that of Wallace.
Although the stones are interesting in themselves, Russells investigations have
revealed that the Wallace Stone at Almondell is the earliest dated memorial to Wallace yet
discovered. That honour had previously been held by the monument at Wallacestone near
Falkirk, which carries a date of 1804. Although the Wallacestone monument is known to have
replaced an earlier inscribed stone, no details of that have survived. The Almondell stone
is thought to mark the spot from which Wallace and his men observed the English army at
Kirkliston in July 1298, a few days before the Battle
Russell Parker remarked : "It would be nice to see these stones brought under some
sort of protection and properly displayed. West Lothian doesnt have too many
surviving links to Wallace, especially when compared to Falkirk, but this one seems
especially important by virtue of its date".
Please note : the Simon Fraser stone is located in the Country Park and is freely
available. The William Wallace stone is located a few feet from the roadside at the North
Entrance to the park. It is on private land but is easily seen and photographed from the
3 Mar, 1999
We are grateful to John Walker of the
Battle of Falkirk Working Group for providing us with the information on this page.