A close encounter with Falkirk’s heritage

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Undeterred by the heatwave weather two medieval knights donned full battle armour to meet bemused shoppers in Falkirk’s 21st century High Street yesterday.

They were there to let people know about a major history and heritage event on July 21, when local and national groups will gather to commemorate the 1298 Battle of Falkirk.

On a July day possibly much like today a Scottish army was massacred by the invading English and Welsh forces of Edward I - and while Scottish leader Sir William Wallace escaped the defeat led inexorably to his betrayal and ritual murder.

Sixteen years later, on another summer’s day, King Robert I destroyed another invading army at Bannockburn and effectively won Scottish independence.

The annual battle commemoration in Falkirk has been an important local event for many years, but with soaring interest in Scottish history the programme for this year’s event is reckoned set to be particularly special.

It aims to underpin Falkirk’s important role in a pivotal episode of the Scottish Wars of Independence - and to remind both Bairns and visitors that terrible and momentous events once took place just a short distance from the town centre.

The knight on the left of the picture, above, wears the heraldry of Sir John de Graeme, one of Wallace’s right hand men, who died in the battle and was subsequently interred in the churchyard of what is now Trinity Church.

The man on the right wears the livery of Wallace himself - making the point that in battle he would have been dressed and equipped in much the same way as other men of his social class in both armies ... the heraldic motif on his surcoat would have enabled friend and foe to recognise him at a glance.

Activities involving groups including the Society of John de Graeme and the Society of William Wallace will take place between 11am and 3.30pm o n Saturday, July 21, in what is said to be shaping up as one of central Scotland’s key heritage events of the summer.