City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

William Wallace Letters to Go On Display

By edg - Posted on 20 September 2011

The only two documents directly connected to Sir William Wallace will go on public display side by side next year, it was announced yesterday.

A 700-year-old letter from King Philip of France - which may have been in Wallace's possession until his arrest by the English - will be shown in Edinburgh next summer. In the letter, dated 7th November 1300, King Philip IV  commands his French agents in Rome to ask Pope Boniface VIII to support Wallace in unspecified business. The document suggests that Wallace intended to visit Rome seeking support against the English, although it is not known if he made it there.

The document will arrive in Scotland in January to be exhibited alongside the famous Lübeck letter, sent by William Wallace shortly after the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, which informed European trading partners that Scottish ports were once again open for business.

The National Records of Scotland has reached agreement with The National Archives in London to borrow the French document from 2012 to 2014, to go on display in both years. Officials of both archives are discussing means of allowing the document to be housed in Scotland in the longer term.

"We now have agreement from our colleagues in London and in Lübeck to bring to Scotland the only two original documents in existence with a direct connection to Wallace. The public will be able to see them next year along with translations and explanatory material," said George MacKenzie, Keeper of the Records of Scotland.

"Both letters are fragile and can only go on display under controlled lighting for a very limited period every few years."

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "This exhibition is of tremendous importance - seeing the only two surviving documents directly connected to William Wallace side by side will be a unique experience. It is likely to give us a new perspective on Wallace's vital role in Scottish history."

The exhibition will be held in Edinburgh in summer 2012  - dates and the venue still to be confirmed.