As its namesake did 800 years ago, the Wallace Monument peers out from a volcanic crag at Stirling and the Forth Valley.

In 1297, William Wallace defeated the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge; for his accomplishment he was knighted and appointed Guardian of Scotland. Under a year later, he resigned, having suffered a disastrous rout at Falkirk. By 1305, the Scottish warrior was captured, hanged, drawn and quartered by the English.

A small window of fame, yet William became a folk hero for Scotland – he was the protagonist of Blind Harry’s 15th-century epic poem The Wallace, the subject of literary works by Sir Walter Scott and Jane Porter, and star of the Academy Award-winning film Braveheart. But before all that, Wallace allegedly stood here, atop Abbey Craig, to view the oncoming English army.

Abbey Craig formed millions of years ago when glacier passed over volcanic rock – fitting, as Wallace had ice and fire in his veins. I assume this to be the case, at least, for how else could you look out at a well-equipped feudal army that outnumbers you and think you have any chance? Let alone that you can win, spark an entire war for freedom and independence, and live forever in Scottish lore?

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