Timeline of Events: Robroyston Wallace Monument
Part I: 1305 - 1999
- Wallace captured on the night of 5th August 1305 after betrayal by his squire Jack Short for 40 merks to John de Menteith, a Scottish knight loyal to Edward. Wallace had been travelling from Glasgow to see Robert the Bruce at Stirling with important documents signed by three Popes and recognising Scotland as a sovereign nation. Menteith turns Wallace over to English forces who take him to London - and execution for 'treason' - under heavy guard.
- Raised by public subscription, the Robroyston Wallace Monument (a 20 foot high granite Celtic cross) is unveiled before a crowd of 1000 people at 4:30pm on Saturday 4th August 1900 by Miss Emmeline McKerlie, a direct descendant of Kerlie, Wallace's companion who was slain during his capture by forces acting for Edward I. The Memorial Committee for the monument hands over custody of the monument to Cadder Parish Council.
(Source: Springburn Museum Tryst Information Sheet #4)
- The Clan Wallace Society adopts the monument in 1986 under the District Council's 'Adopt a Monument' scheme. The society funded its restoration.
(Source: The Glasgow Story)
- Clan Wallace Trust signal their intention to create a visitor centre around the Robroyston Wallace Monument by raising money to buy the derelict farm and land nearby.
(Source: Sunday Mail, December 10, 1995)
- London-based construction firm Wimpey build a 520-house private estate named Briarcroft less than a mile from the Robroyston Wallace Monument. Glasgow District Council rules not to name any of the streets in the new development after Wallace, with area housing officer at the council, Ian Wallace, explaining: "Personal names tend not to be used when naming new streets nowadays. Besides, there already is a Wallace Street and a North Wallace Street in Glasgow."
Local pensioner, 81-year-old John Hornick complains, and writes to both the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland, who both dismiss his complaints. Mr Hornick responds resolutely: "The City Fathers, in their wisdom, have already named a square in the city after Nelson Mandela, the South African freedom fighter, Sir William Wallace, Scotland's freedom fighter, deserves no less respect."
(Source: Scotland on Sunday, December 17, 1995)
Letter to The Herald (The Herald, December 29, 1995)
I was saddened to read that Glasgow District Council has refused a request to name streets in a new housing development at Robroyston after William Wallace, despite the fact that it is adjacent to a monument marking the spot where he was betrayed.
The council claims that several city thoroughfares bear his name and that a Glasgow streetfinder lists 11 such streets.
Readers in Rutherglen, Paisley, Clydebank, Johnstone, Blantyre, and Renfrew must have been left with the impression that the new Glasgow city boundaries have been extended to include them because six of the streets are in their areas.
Wallacewells (Crescent, Place, Quadrant, and Road in Balornock), there is only one city thoroughfare called simply Wallace, that is Wallace Street in Kingston.
The district council's logic is even more questionable given that there are many more than 11 streets in Glasgow alone with Victoria in them and that nearly all the streets in Croftfoot begin or end in "croft".
A few years ago, in the face of fierce opposition, Glasgow District Council renamed a city centre square after another nation's freedom-fighter, Nelson Mandela. Surely it is not too late to commemorate one of our own nation's freedom-fighters, William Wallace.
Mr CDG Pennycook, Glasgow.
- Stewart Milne Homes opens two show homes on its Kingsmeadow development at Robroyston. The development comprises a mix of 55 two- and three-bedroom semi-detached and detached villas, in a variety of house styles, Stewart Milne reports that the site is so popular that it has secured 12 sales prior to the completion of the show homes. The business and development manager at Stewart Milne Homes, appears keen to highlight the site's rich heritage when he says: "Potential homebuyers may be attracted by the development's strong historical background. The Wallace Memorial stands close by, marking the spot where Sir William Wallace was betrayed and captured."
(Source: The Herald (Glasgow), September 25, 1996)
- Hot on the heels of the success of Mel Gibson's Braveheat blockbuster, another developer, Redrow Homes (Scotland), announces a planned estate for Robroyston. In the hope of benefiting from the movie's huge success in raising the profile of Wallace, Welsh-based company Redrow proposes that the name for the new development will be Wallacewell Park. Doors to two new fully-furnished show homes at Wallacewell Park are flung open to eager visitors on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th April. Redrow proudly announces that visitors to the show homes can enter a competition offering copies of the Braveheart video as prizes;. For younger visitors: a children's face painter is on-hand to recreate Mel Gibson's memorable film make-up on happy faces. Music is provided by a pipe band who form a congenial atmosphere for prospective buyers indulging in the light refreshments made available.
Apparently there is 'huge demand' for the yet-to-be-built homes, as communicated by a Redrow spokesman who comments: "Wallacewell Park is proving very popular, with several reservations taken even before customers have a show home to view, and we know that a lot of would-be purchasers are just waiting to see the finished product before they make their final decision."
(Source: The Herald (Glasgow), April 16, 1997)
- The new Redrow development is formally opened in a ceremony performed by Wallace clansman Seoras Wallace, together with other members of the Wallace Clan Trust. Seoras, we are told, worked on Mel Gibson's Braveheart, while fellow clan members acted as "fight arrangers and performed close-combat stuntwork". Prices at Wallacewell Park range from a surprisingly low (by today's standards) £68,950 for a three-bedroom semi to £104,450 for a four-bedroom detached home.
(Source: The Herald (Glasgow), May 7, 1997)
- Redrow claims "healthy sales" at Wallacewell Park, with 18 homes already bought!
Meanwhile over at another new development, neighbouring Orchard Park, Bellway Homes boasts that around 30 clients have now moved into their new homes. A Bellway sales supervisor at least avoids the ''Wallace connection' when she reports: "Orchard Park enjoys views across to the Campsies, and because it is located adjacent to the Stepps by-pass, travelling into the city centre - and to Stirling - is very easy indeed."
Keen to sample some of the many free marketing opportunities on offer, a Wimpey Homes (Scotland West) sales and marketing director proclaims: ''Briarcroft was a concept we had never tried before in the west - showing all our house types in one area. It has proved to be extremely popular." Wimpey Homes also announces its next bold project in the area, building on its apparent earlier success at Robroyston. A spokesman says it plans to open a new show home village, Brookfields, adjacent to Briarcroft.
(Source: The Herald (Glasgow), August 20, 1997)
- Not to be outdone, over at Glasgow's daily newspaper, a Daily Record reporter injects a bit of geographical hyperbole: "Many people will know Robroyston as the spot where William Wallace was betrayed. But now it is gaining a name as a place where buyers can capture stylish new houses. Five home builders have joined forces at Robroyston Fields to build a thriving new community at the [sic] foot of the Campsie Hills." The five estates referred to are: Orchard Park (Bellway Homes), Campsie Rise (Bett Homes), Brookfield (Wimpey Homes), Wallacewell Park (Redrow Homes), and Murron's Lea (Bryant Homes).
(Source: Daily Record, May 19, 1998)
- Ooops... just three months' later the same reporter at the Daily Record has changed her mind about public knowledge of Robroyston, and now claims that: "Most people don't know that William Wallace spent a night in Robroyston in 1305, before being captured and taken to London for execution". One happy resident though who has already moved into the Redrow Wallacewell Park development is content with life on the new estate and looks forward to how "soon Redrow are planning to build a playpark for the kids within the development, which will be the perfect finishing touch". Redrow's regional sales manager, is on hand to tell us that "it's these finishing touches that attract customers".
(Source: Daily Record, August 18, 1998)
Letter to The Herald (The Herald, January 23, 1999)
Following my letter published on January 20, I have heard from the Society of William Wallace that they have tried in the past to persuade Glasgow's Roads Department to erect signposts to, and provide safe parking at, Wallace's Well, but to date this has been denied. Also, as a matter of interest, the society advised that their members have had to clean graffiti off Wallace's Well on a regular basis but since Braveheart the site has been treated with respect, suggesting a resurgence of national pride.
I feel it is appropriate, particularly in this important year for Glasgow and Scotland as a whole, to draw attention to the wording on the monument which is located a few yards from Wallace's Well:
"This memorial erected 1900 AD by public subscription to mark the site of the house in which the hero of Scotland was basely betrayed and captured about midnight on 5 August 1305 when alone with his faithful friend and co-patriot Kerlie who was slain.
"Wallace's heroic patriotism as conspicuous in his death as in his life so roused and inspired the country that within 9 years of his betrayal the work of his life was crowned with victory and Scotland's independence regained on the field of Bannockburn."
Is is not a further betrayal to take a decision to leave this site unmarked and unattainable?
Ms J Dick, Stepps.
Letter to The Herald (The Herald, January 20, 1999)
RE Jennifer Dick's letter on Wallace's Well, there is also at Robroyston a more substantial monument to Wallace in the form of a Celtic cross, marking the place of Wallace's capture.
This was unveiled on Saturday, August 4, 1900, in the presence of some 1000 people. The monument was raised by public subscription through the efforts of the Rev David Macrae and the Scottish Patriotic Society. The monument is now the responsibility of Glasgow City Council.
The Society of William Wallace, of which I am secretary, would be glad to hear from anyone who is interested in contributing to the society's efforts to ensure that the hundredth anniversary is suitably commemorated.
Mr W Douglas, Glasgow.
Letter to The Herald (The Herald, January 26, 1999)
I have read with great interest the views of readers about Wallace and the monument on the site of the cottage at Robroyston in which he was betrayed. Its historic links, real and mythological, make Robroyston important in the Wallace story but it is also a fine monument.
Springburn Museum mounted an exhibition a few years ago which examined the area's links with Wallace and also highlighted the current state of the surroundings of both the monument and nearby Wallace's Well. The adjacent farm buildings and cottages are derelict shells and new housing developments are fast eroding the countryside and destroying the once rural setting of both.
If it was once an attractive environment then it certainly is rapidly ceasing to be so. These are memorials which ought to be protected and their site enhanced so that they are objects worthy of our affection and attention.
One hesitates to suggest the establishment of car-parking or better signposting for fear of attracting vandals as well as visitors but certainly left as they are the sites at Robroyston scarcely do justice to Sir William Wallace or the treachery which marked his downfall. They are locations of great historical magnitude and it should be possible to now do something to make the sites worthy of their importance.
There is an urgent need for all interested parties to get together to discuss ways and means to preserve and enhance these historic sites. I will be glad to hear from all those interested so that we can do justice to the man and Robroyston.
Dr Gilbert T Bell, Curator, Springburn Museum, Atlas Square, Ayr Street.
- Historian David Ross laments on the public's lack of knowledge of the history of William Wallace, citing the unknown resting place of the body of Bishop Wishart, Wallace's chief supporter, which lies in an unmarked tomb in Glasgow Cathedral.
Mr Ross also expresses concern that modern politics have served the memory of Wallace badly, saying: "He has long been used as an icon against Unionist thought and that may have prevented sites being preserved. You wouldn't find that with a tribute to, say, Nelson". (Source: The Scotsman, February 19, 1999)
- Mr Ross takes his message to the west-coast Scottish broadsheet, The Herald, saying: "The memory of Wallace is being betrayed through ignorance and that has to be addressed. These sites are numerous throughout Scotland and should be major tourist attractions. Sadly, tourists just get off the plane at Glasgow and head straight to Stirling".
Nigel Tranter, 89, author of The Wallace, adds: "As a nation we are not very good at looking after our historic sites ... It is not just maintenance that we have problems with. We do not commemorate enough of our history either. History is like the memory of a nation. If it loses that memory then it cannot expect to be respected. A nation stands or falls on its history".
Leader of Glasgow City Council Frank McAveety responds: "We would be happy to look at any proposals that would boost tourism and encourage tourism into the city".
A spokesman for the Scottish Tourist Board adds: "It would be up to each individual tourist board to look at their own areas for any type of Wallace trail".
(Source: The Herald, February 19, 1999)
- The Daily Record proudly announces that, as part of a £400m development: "The site where William Wallace was captured by English troops in 1305 may get its own museum". The downside though was to be that: "... the bid by property developer and former Celtic director Brian Dempsey would mean concreting over swathes of green-belt land... [with] retail, leisure, residential and industrial development of the area". William Douglas, secretary of the William Wallace Society, responds that: "There are few sites genuinely associated with William Wallace but Robroyston is one of them. The current monument is directly across the road from where I'm told a new museum would be. It would be an appropriate place to build it because the site marks the spot where Wallace spent his last night as a free man".
Mr Dempsey insists that any museum would only be viable as part of a wider multi-faceted development of the whole site: "You cannot take out of an area without putting something back in. On a bigger scale, the local economy and employment levels will benefit. This is a major development - the investment will be between pounds 350million and pounds 400million. The visitor centre will have historical and educational benefit".
Head of Glasgow's planning committee, Ron Davey, responds: "I am told Mr Dempsey has been talking to people in the department but that is general practice and he is entitled to do that. Until we have detailed plans, everything is just speculation. As someone who knows the area very well, I would welcome a museum there - but not at the expense of green- belt land".
(Source: Daily Record, February 25, 1999)
- In a very worrying revelation, The Sunday Herald reveals that Wallace's Well, which has been "quietly stripped of its protected status six years ago, could be faced with destruction". The article continues: "The Scottish William Wallace Society has claimed that the removal of the well's listed status was never properly publicised, and that as a result the site may be erased by housing development without the chance for anyone to protest". The decision that the 'B'-listed well site, just half a mile from the Robroyston Wallace Monument that signifies the place where Wallace was captured in 1305, was deemed "of little historical interest" was taken in 1993 by Historic Scotland and supported by Glasgow City Council.
A spokesman for Historic Scotland confirmed that Wallace's Well was no longer B-listed as a site of 'regional or more than local importance' under new guidelines. According to the HS spokesman, the swell site could not be "substantiated with any evidence". Responding, Dr Gilbert Bell, the curator at Springburn Museum and a local Robroyston historian, was contemptuous of the reasons for dropping the well's listed status when he says: "If Wallace stayed in the house, that's where he would drink from. All over Scotland there are Wallace wells and Wallace leaps, but this site is not disputed as he was captured there. The site is every bit as important as Bannockburn and is part of Scotland's high road to independence".
(Source: The Sunday Herald, August 29, 1999)
- Historian David Ross puts forward the claim that Wallace's Well is of national historical importance and voices his fears that the well and surrounding enclosure may soon be demolished by property developers encroaching ever-further into Glasgow's green belt. Mr Ross adds: "There is no doubt that Wallace was captured on this site. The well is the place where he would drink. He stayed in a house just a few hundred yards away and that is certainly the site of his capture. Historic Scotland told nobody they were removing the listed status and it is only a matter of time before someone builds on this land. Before we know it one of Scotland's most historic spots will become a building site".
(Source: The Herald, September 1, 1999)