Wee Wallace in the Window

Yonmei

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

The Athenaeum was designed in 1817 as a “genteel building” which would provide the gentlefolk of Stirling with an assembly room, a library, and a reading room. It’s a lovely building.

The porch and statue were added in 1859 to commemorate Sir William Wallace of Elerslie (1272-1305), a leader of the resistance against Edward I during the wars of Scottish Independence, Guardian of Scotland 1297–1298. On 11th September 1297, a Scots army led by Andrew de Moray and William Wallace defeated a larger English army near Stirling, where a small bridge was the only crossing over the River Forth. Around 6000 footsoldiers were killed on the English side, and over a hundred knights. William Wallace was the hero of a long ballad from the 15th century, attributed to “Blind Harry”. But two writers of the 19th century made William Wallace famous: Walter Scott collected the ballad and wrote “Exploits and death of William Wallace, the ‘Hero of Scotland’” in his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders, published 1802, and Jane Porter in her novel of the wars of Independence, The Scottish Chiefs or, The Life of Sir William Wallace, published 1810.

I was amused by this photo particularly: Wee Wallace reflected in a window with butterflies. He was a real historical figure, a grand military leader, but the statutary hero-worship of him came centuries later, long after the resistance in Scotland had been destroyed and driven out. Wee Wallace has always been a safe way to be patriotic: a summer essential, 19.99.

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