It is hard for any Scot with any romance in his soul to visit the town of Stirling, and not be a Nationalist – for the duration of his visit, at least. In 1297, William Wallace defeated the English army of King Edward 1st at the battle of Stirling Bridge, and in 1314 Robert the Bruce led the Scottish army to victory at Bannockburn, also very near Stirling.
The reason for the change of leadership, however, was the routing of the Scottish army at the Battle of Falkirk, in 1298.
The exact location of this battle has been lost in the mists of time, but local legend has it that Wallace watched the battle from the top of a hill, and that a monument was placed to Wallace at that point. The area became known as "Wallace’s Stone", which natural elision converted to "Wallacestone" over the years. The original memorial – thought to be the first memorial to Wallace in Scotland – was replaced in 1810 by a ten-foot tall pillar, photographed above.
In the distance, on the other side of the Forth River, you can see Ben Cleuch and the rest of the Ochill Hills, covered in a smattering of January snow. On the right, a row of houses climb up a remarkably steep hill from the village of Reddingmuirhead. I can vouch for the steepness of this hill, as it is on one of my occasional running routes and it is hard work to get to the top without stopping!
Whether this is in truth the site of the Battle of Falkirk, whether this is the first memorial to Wallace, I am not qualified to judge. But this unremarkable, uncommercialised and largely unknown spot should be on the itinerary of anyone trying to learn about the life of "Braveheart" Wallace. For the view if nothing else!