Friday, July 13, 2018

William Wallace

Well, the world has gone bit bonks. We are getting ready to protest against the visit of a certain world leader here. The police have appealed for calm and non-violent protest, with the proviso, no matter how you feel, he’s not worth getting arrested over.

There is talking a banning THE balloon. The Belgians have beat us to the rude balloon competition.

 If you can't control your own hair, then there is no hope..

And the young multi cultural English football team did well in the World Cup. Any Scot ( and there are many) who has gloated at their departure from the tournament after a hard fought battle with the older and more experienced team from Croatia, has appeared churlish and bitter. As a lot of us are. The English boys played well and were beaten by a better team on the night, but I feel that the elegantly dressed Mr Southgate and his boys will be back.

Meanwhile,  everybody in the government is resigning, trying to force  another general election. In Brexit nobody has a clue what is going on. It seems nothing that Theresa May does it right but nobody seems to be coming up with any better ideas. The independence  army  is on the march again, claiming that the only two exports that ‘England’  has to bargain with in Brexit negiations are Scotch and oil ( which they see as Scottish).

I will just leave that there. Except to add that it’s not Scottish money that got the oil out and that most most whisky companies are now owned by the Italians ( Brexit again) or the Japanese ( the global economy).

It’s all a very sad state of affairs.

So I went for a walk down to the bottom of my garden and across the road to visit one of the oldest trees In Scotland and the actual birthplace of Mel Gibson… sorry  William Wallace. It appears on this old map, and you can the location of my house. Strange to see how it all was in those days.

So sir  William Wallace of Elderslie  is the one of Braveheart- not historically accurate film as I, sure you are aware.  

WilliamWallace  was born around 1270,  as was known as the Knight of Ellerslie or Elderslie. According to Mr David Ross, both these names mean the same thing; the place of the Elder trees, and my village is called  Elderslie, I think that’s a wrap!

There are no real physical borders in  GB,  and any that did exist have always moved about a bit so there is no surprise that people wandered around taking their culture and their language with them. Anything claiming to be Scottish rarely is exclusively so. It’s a whole amalgam of influence that just ended up in the best bit, at the top of the country.


The nationalist icon of Mel Gibson with a Scottish flag of St Andrew painted on his face is a Hollywood construct. As well as St Andrew being patron of Scotland, Barbados, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia, Sicily, Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Burgundy, San Andrés (Tenerife), Diocese of Parañaque, Amalfi, Luqa (Malta) and Prussia; fishermen, fishmongers and rope-makers, textile workers, singers, miners, pregnant women, butchers, farm workers with protection offered  against sore throats, convulsions, fever and whooping cough.


The  Wallaces were in the employ of the  High Stewards of Scotland.
Renfrewshire ( the part where Elderslie and Paisley are ) is always known as the cradle of the royal Stewarts, it says this on the sign as you drive into the village. All the High Stewarts are buried in Paisley Abbey.  And Alan is a Stewart as well, but a rather lowly one. His DNA  goes all the way back to the Royal Stewarts. As does  75% of the Scottish population.

But William Wallace’s family seemingly came north from Shropshire at the time of David I of Scotland when the Welsh has a wee meander to the land of the constant rain. And the original form of Wallace means  ‘speaking Welsh!’


According to  The William Wallace Society, a Richard Wallace, in 1174 witnessed the signing of a charter at Paisley Abbey. He is well recognised as being an ancestor of William Wallace and, as was common in those days, they were rewarded with land,  in this case, Elderslie, sometime before 1250.


 Here are some pics of the ruins that lie there now. These only date back to the 1500’s but there is  another ruin which adjoined it; the Moat/Mottes/Houses which  means an old fortified dwelling. It  it could easily be that William  Wallace was born in one of these dwellings.

 Here in Elderslie. There is  historical record of two famous  trees; the Wallace oak and the Wallace Yew.  Only the yew remains now. The parish records as far back as 1700 refer to it as ‘the ancient tree’ the but nobody really knows how old it actually is.

Scotland has the oldest tree in Europe- a yew in Fortingall in Perthshire which is over  3,000 years of age and I think that deserves a  blog all on its own).

The Wallace Oak. Like many other trees In Scotland is supposed to have sheltered  William ( or any other leader of the scots ) and his/their  followers from an English patrol ( of any type). The tree finally was destroyed in a storm in the 1800’s.  I found an article that said the Oak had been measured a few years before it fell and parish records  state it covered early 500 square yards.

And  seemingly, by a lovely turn of fate, Bonnie Prince Charlie's used the words "Wallace’s Oak" as a camp password during their fateful march of 1745. Although 500 years from one event to the other , must have made the phrase pretty well known, given that  most language would be spoken. No real call for those a Bletchley to be sharpening their pencils. Just listening while hiding in a clump of heather would have done it.

The Wallace society do admit there are no documents that  confirm where Wallace was born but  they refer to Elderslie  being "evidently" the birthplace of William Wallace.

So until you hear otherwise, that will be the case.

Caro Ramsay  13 07 2018


  1. Many years ago, in a shop in You-should-excuse-the-expression Edinburgh, I was told by the sales clerk that, since my name is King, my tartan was Stuart. Since I liked its pattern very much, I bought it. The scarf, that is, not the notion that my first husband’s heritage had anything to do with Scotland.

    I do love and revere old trees very much, however.

    Whatever Wallace did or didn’t do to defend his country, when it comes to our current most critical defense need—against climate change—trees are our best allies,

  2. When all the trees are gone we might realise that we cannot breathe money....

  3. Caro, I agree with yew, braveheartedly!

    Aren't you happy I'm now getting notices of when a new blog post goes up? If not, blame the Royal Stewart in your family.

  4. I love old trees. Will come looking sometime. Is the wee one playing in the Scottish Open?