700-year-old letter belonging to William Wallace to go on display

The 700-year-old letter about William Wallace from the French King Philip IV. Photo: 'Neil Hanna/TSPL
The 700-year-old letter about William Wallace from the French King Philip IV. Photo: 'Neil Hanna/TSPL
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A 700-year-old letter thought to have been in the possession of William Wallace is to go on show in Scotland.

The fragile document was returned to Scotland from England earlier this year.

The letter can only go on display under controlled lighting every few years to help preserve it and is on loan to the National Records of Scotland under an agreement with the National Archives in Kew.

Part of a new exhibition at the Scottish Parliament, the letter is from King Philip of France to his officials at the Vatican and mentions Wallace by name.

The French king asks his agents in Rome to help Wallace in business with Pope Boniface VIII. It also strongly suggests that Wallace intended to travel to Rome, although it is not known if he reached there.

The letter had puzzled historians and aroused speculation about its origins and precise link to Wallace. But last year an international team of medieval experts concluded that the document is of French origin, was issued on November 7 1300 and is likely to have been in Wallace’s possession.

In January, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced the precious document’s return to Scotland.

Ms Hyslop said: “It is one of the few surviving artefacts with a direct link to William Wallace and a fascinating fragment of our nation’s history. To have it here in Scotland, where it can be viewed by the Scottish public, is very significant indeed.”

Also on show is the Lubeck letter, the only surviving document which was issued by Wallace.

The letter, written in Latin, was written after his victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge to inform European trading partners that Scottish ports were open for business again.

Both documents are part of the free exhibition, Special Delivery: The William Wallace Letters, on at Holyrood until the end of August.