Scotland’s iconic landmark, the Wallace Monument, celebrated its 150-year anniversary in September 2019.
“We started off marking the 150th anniversary of the building, and then we started to realize as we discussed and thought about what would be the best way to mark the anniversary,” Ken Thomson, the marketing manager of the Wallace Monument, told Vanguard. “[It’s] not so much about the fact that the building has stood there for 150 years, it’s more about the fact that it’s been telling the story of William Wallace for 150 years, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Located in the town of Stirling, the monument was built between 1861 and 1869 to commemorate Scottish hero William Wallace. The monument in Stirling is one of various monuments and statues that celebrate the Scottish figure.
Currently, the Wallace monument overlooks the city of Stirling and is celebrated 150 years later after its construction during the Wallace Wha Hae festival.
Although the story of William Wallace is focused around Scottish independence, it remains relevant to Scottish locals and visitors alike, according to Thomson.
“Wallace was championing more than anything else against inequality, and what really angered him and drove him to do the things he did was he detested seeing the people of Scotland treated unequally, treated unfairly and being the subject of discrimination and that’s really what motivated Wallace,” Thomson said. “I think that still resonates with people today, whatever the cause or the source of that discrimination or injustice might be, and that’s why the message of what he achieved is still relevant to people today and why so many people want to come and visit the monument.”
The festival consisted of Scottish musical acts such as the Red Hot Chili Pipers, a Scottish rock bagpipe band, as well as the winner of 2015 The Voice UK Stevie McCrorie. The acts were followed by a firework celebration behind the monument itself. Approximately 3,000 people attended the event, and guests enjoyed local food such as haggis, fish and chips and a wide selection of beer.
Along with the festivities, the celebration’s main focus was to keep the story of William Wallace alive.
Wallace earned his hero status in the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, where he led the Scottish to victory in a battle against the English in pursuit to gain independence.
Stirling was known as the “gate to the highlands” and was heavily attacked by English forces who wanted to conquer all of Scotland. Although Wallace was eventually captured and executed by the English, he remains a legend in Scottish history and continues to inspire the country to pursue independence.
“There was no talk about the fact that they wanted to think about any other people, or any other events, or any other periods in Scotland,” Thomson said. “It was all about commemorating Wallace and recognizing him and his achievements and what he meant to the people of Scotland. I think we need to be faithful to that, and…making sure that we don’t lose that focus today and that story has resonated with people over the generations.”