Artists shortlisted for Battle of Stirling monument

SIX artists have been shortlisted for a public art commission which will mark one of the most famous battles in Scottish history.

Eddie McNeil of the Society of William Wallace.
Eddie McNeil of the Society of William Wallace.

David Annand and Kenny Hunter are among the artists in the running for the chance to create a monument commemorating William Wallace, Andrew de Moray and the Battle of Stirling Bridge.

The two men were co-commanders at the battle in 1297.

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William Wallace’s role in the fight, which saw the larger English army heavily defeated by the Scots, was highlighted in the 1995 Oscar-winning blockbuster, Braveheart.

David Annand's Robert Fergusson at Canongate, Edinburgh

But the Guardians of Scotland Trust (GOST) hope the work will give Andrew de Moray his place in history after he was written out of the film version of the historic battle.

The six shortlisted artists are David Annand, whose work includes a life-sized sculpture of poet Robert Fergusson in Edinburgh, Doug Cocker, who created The Ben Lomond Memorial at Rowardennan and Alan Herriot whose key works include King Robert the Bruce at Marischal College in Aberdeen and a life-sized Denis Law statue at nearby Aberdeen Sports Village.

Kenny Hunter, who created Citizen Firefighter outside Glasgow’s Central Station, Malcolm Robertson and Kate Robinson make up the remaining shortlist.

Initial designs by all the artists will be put on public display at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum in Stirling from January 8 to February 21 next year.

A decision on the winning submission will be made by a panel in early February.

Trustee, Robin Iffla, who is Dean of Stirling Guildry, an ancient organisation which was present at the actual battle of Stirling Bridge, said: “More than 20 artists applied, all very keen to support the Trust’s aims.

“Initially the panel was going to select four artists but we were so overwhelmed by the quality of the applicants we decided to ask six artists to present preliminary designs.

“We are aiming to have a public launch of the new artwork on the anniversary of the Battle on 11th September in 2017.”

The proposed public artwork will be placed on north side of the River Forth close to Old Stirling Bridge on the outskirts of Stirling.

The current ‘old Bridge’ was built after the battle in the early sixteenth century.

Archaeologists believe the narrow wooden structure which gave the battle its name was located diagonally opposite the old stone bridge which is a landmark in the town.

It represented a key crossing at the time of the battle in terms of military strategy.

Earlier this year, the Trust erected three information lecterns at the site close to where the proposed public artwork will be erected.

It also placed a Saltire at the spot where Wallace and de Moray led an outnumbered Scottish army to victory against the English.

This marked the first time the Saltire had flown at Stirling Bridge since 1297.

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Guardians of Scotland trustee. Ted Christopher, said: “More than a decade ago, I was at Stirling Bridge with the late David R. Ross, convener of The Society of William Wallace. Every year the Society turned up on the anniversary of the Battle to lay a wreath to remember all those who fell during the Battle.

“As Davie and I talked that year, it struck me as someone born and raised in Stirling, that despite it being one of the most important sites in Scottish history, my town had done virtually nothing to mark the spot.

“By that stage, the Hollywood blockbuster, Braveheart, had made William Wallace into a would-renowned historical hero. Visitors were flocking to Stirling as a result – but there was nothing at Stirling Bridge to mark the spot. It struck me this was a big void which needed to be filled.

“In 2005, Davie organised The Walk for Wallace, which culminated in a memorial service at Smithfield’s Priory Church of Bartholomew the Great in London. There, 700 years to the day after his execution, we gave William Wallace the Christian service he had been denied at the time.

“Davie had asked me to write a song for the occasion and I sang I’m Coming Home in the church. Less than five years later I sang it again at Davie’s funeral and I decided that day I would try to make sure that both Wallace and Andrew de Moray, his co-commander in the Battle of Stirling Bridge, were honoured at the site.”

Mr Christopher subsequently approached Fergus Wood, then Provost of Stirling, the Society of William Wallace (SOWW), The de Moray Project and Elspeth King, curator at the Stirling Smith Museum. Together they started The Guardians of Scotland Trust.

He added: “It has been a long struggle but with the shortlisting of these artists, we are at the point of transforming this area into a beautiful, serene and aesthetically-pleasing place which mirrors its standing as a world-class historical site.”

Andrew de Moray, who was said to be the brains to William Wallace’s brawn, died as a direct result of the injuries he received in the battle.

As a result the Trust believe he has not been given his due place in posterity.