Commemorations mark battle’s place in Falkirk’s history

One of the key groups involved in last weekend’s 1298 Battle of Falkirk commemoration day events has praised the many organisations and individuals who helped make it a success.

But the spokesman for the Society of John de Graeme said their achievement was “despite often having to jump through hoops, face red tape and general resistance”.

He added: “Their commitment to recognising the rich history of the area and bringing a bit of life to Falkirk town centres deserves a big pat on the back.”

Over recent months the Society, named after a right hand man of William Wallace, has argued more should be done to recognise the pivotal events in Falkirk’s history.

Down south important historical events, for example from the Wars of the Roses and the British Civil War, are commemorated in elaborate summer pageants which draw huge crowds.

In Scotland fickle weather and persistent failure to realise the appeal of Scottish history – both real and as portrayed on celluloid – are blamed for what’s seen as a lacklustre approach.

However, the tourism impact of productions including Outlander and Outlaw King have put heritage on the map in a way enthusiasts like the Society members feel has become impossible to ignore.

Ironically the surge of visitors to sites featured in hit movies – including Blackness Castle and Doune Castle – is reportedly seen as creating crowd control problems Historic Environment Scotland is trying to resolve.

What’s seen as a game changer in the way this year’s Falkirk 1298 event was managed was the active participation of Trinity Church which served as a focal point for the programme – not least because Sir John de Graeme, seen as a medieval “local hero”, is interred in the churchyard.

Church tours, prop exhibits from the movie Outlaw King and music and dance acts Clann an Drumma and Treubh Dannsa, medieval re-enactors and a period-themed street market were included in a busy programme which also included creative games for children in The Howgate.

The main event, as ever, was a colourful procession through the town to recall the day when reputedly thousands died in battle in a vain attempt to repel the forces of Edward I.

Commemoration of the Battle of Falkirk in 1298 with events in Callendar Park, Trinity Church and a procession through the town. Pictures by Alan Murray.