Celebrating the Battle of Stirling Bridge – seven centuries on

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By a Newsnet.scot Reporter

The two heroes at the centre of one of the most important battles in Scottish history were jointly honoured at the spot where they led an outnumbered Scottish army to victory against the English more than 700 years ago.

The formal unveiling ceremony at Stirling Bridge of three lecterns made of traditional Scottish whinstone dedicated to the memory of William Wallace and Andrew de Moray too place at the site of their historic victory.

At a special ceremony attended by Andrew de Moray’s direct descendant, the Earl of Moray, the Battle of Stirling Bridge memorials were formally unveiled.

Stuart Maxwell MSP,  convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee, opened the event and, together with the Earl of Moray, raised the Saltire at the site of the battle. This was the first time in more than 700 years that the Saltire has flown at Stirling Bridge. The flag will now become a permanent fixture at the site.

John Stuart, the current Earl of Moray, said of his illustrious kinsman: “I am delighted that Andrew de Moray is finally, after 700 years, to have the recognition he deserves. The Guardians of Scotland have put a huge amount of time and effort into the lecterns, which are a very fitting tribute to one of Scotland’s greatest patriots.”

The victory represented a key moment in the Scottish Wars of Independence. Eminent Scots historian, Sir Tom Devine, recently described the battle as being ‘second in importance only to Bannockburn in the Wars of Independence’.

It is the first time the two men have been given equal prominence. One stone tells the story of Andrew de Moray while another describes Wallace’s role. A third lectern the story of the battle in old Scots as written by poet, Paraig MacNeil.

The Guardians of Scotland Trust was set up in 2013 to advance the education of the public about co-commanders of the First War of Scottish Independence, Andrew de Moray and William Wallace and to create a significant legacy memorial at Stirling Bridge in their honour.

It is generally regarded that little is known about the role that Andrew de Moray played in the Battle of Stirling Bridge 1297; he died as a result of his wounds within one year of the battle. Wallace holds worldwide reputation and not least of all in recent times aided by the Hollywood dramatisation Braveheart, which excludes mention of Andrew de Moray.

To date there has been no interpretation on site for the public of the equal role played by Wallace and de Moray at Stirling Bridge 1297. In August 1297, the two were jointly acknowledged by their followers as ‘commanders of the army of the kingdom of Scotland and the community of the realm.’

Today’s event marked the completion of the first phase of The Guardians of Scotland Trust’s development by the creation of three whinstone lecterns to educate the public of the shared roles of Andrew de Moray and William Wallace at Stirling Bridge in 1297.

This has been made possible by support from Stirling Council, Historic Scotland and students of Stonemasonry at Forth Valley College. Stonemasons have sandblasted traditional Scottish whinstone to text provided by Dr Elspeth King, Director Stirling Smith Museum and Art Gallery, and professional poet, Guardians trustee, Paraig MacNeil.

POETIC EXCERPT

An excerpt from MacNeil’s epic poem, De Moray, written in the 13th century Scots of Moray’s time, but translated into contemporary English, appears on one of the lecterns:

…for Moray paired with Wallace were the bright
true bearers of Scots liberty and light
by heaven’s might and rights and ancient laws,
declaimed by Scotland’s Stone for Scotland’s cause,
   For by the year of twelve and ninety seven,
in dank September’s month on day eleven,
if Wallace was the hear of this campaign,
then Moray was his eagle eye and brain, whose quill would play its part where blade and quillion, yea bound with brawn, in fiery fierce tourbillion, would break the foe with triumph for to shout
o’er olden Stirling bridge, the foe to rout…

Guardians of Scotland education work included around 70 primary school pupils from St Ninians Primary School in Stirling taking part in an archaeological dig at the lectern site, prior to installation.  Funding was amassed from Stirling Council’s Common Good Fund. Local business, Tradstocks Natural Stone, donated one lectern and provided Whin Stone for all three, sympathetic to the site.