Stirling Bridge stone carvings mark historic event

AN eight-year-old boy carved out a little piece of history by making his mark at the spot where one of Scotland’s most famous battles took place.

The new Stones for Stirling Bridge fundraising scheme is being launched on St Andrews Day by the Guardians of Scotland Trust (GOST)

Harris Hesse-Wood, from Kinlochard in Stirlingshire, was joined by his mum and grandad at Stirling Bridge to check out the site where a stone bearing their family’s name will soon be placed for posterity.

The new Stones for Stirling Bridge fundraising scheme is being launched on St Andrews Day by the Guardians of Scotland Trust (GOST), of which Harris’ grandfather is chair.

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The family stones will sit behind new interpretation panels facing Old Stirling Bridge.

Harris Hesse-Wood carving out a little piece of history by making his mark at the spot where one of Scotlands most famous battles took place.

Councillor Fergus Wood said: “We know from conversations we have already had with members of the worldwide Scottish Diaspora that demand is going to be high for the family stones.

“To have your family’s name set in stone at the place where one of the most important events in Scottish history took place for less than £500 is quite a legacy to leave behind.”

Harris’ stone is the first bearing 120 family names to be placed on two double-sided stone benches by the banks of the River Forth beside Old Stirling Bridge.

The youngster is already been well-versed in the history of Stirling as his mother is Learning Development Officer at nearby Stirling Castle.

The Battle of Stirling Bridge ended in victory for the Scots after Wallace and Andrew de Moray, who became known as The Guardians of Scotland, led outnumbered Scottish forces to victory against the much larger army of Edward I of England.

It has been singled out by eminent Scottish historian, Sir Tom Devine, as being ‘second in importance only to Bannockburn in the Wars of Independence.’

Councillor Wood, who has been a driving force in the bid to honour Wallace and de Moray at the site of the famous battle, founded the Trust in 2012 during his term as Provost of Stirling Council.

He said: “I’m proud the Trust now has the support of colleagues from all political parties and a considerable number of experts from the world of heritage.

“It’s an honour to bring my family name to this famous historic site in memory of men lost in the battle from both sides. It’s also good to be able to highlight the role played Andrew De Moray as co-commander with William Wallace.

“One bench is dedicated to Wallace, while the other is in de Moray’s name and this is deliberate.

“One of the key aims of the Trust has always been to give de Moray his rightful place in history. He died of his wounds not long after the battle and his role was subsequently downplayed.

“My grandson Harris is now eight-years-old and I imagine he’ll return many times to this family stone during his lifetime; perhaps to sit on the benches with his own family one day.”

Since its inception three years ago, the Trust has worked closely with Historic Environment Scotland, The Glasgow School of Art, Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum and Stirling Council to help realise its aims.

One of its Trustees is Robin Iffla, current Dean of The Merchant Guildry of Stirling.

This ancient guild can trace its origins as far back as the period following on from the end of the Roman Empire.

According to Mr Iffla, members of the guild would almost certainly have been present at the Battle of Stirling Bridge at the end of the 13th century.

“The ties which bind still run deep today,” said Mr Iffla. “I have no doubt that people across the globe with a link to Stirling, or indeed William Wallace and Andrew de Moray, will want to be part of the Stones of Stirling fundraising project.”

The outdoor furniture fundraising campaign follows on from the placing in May this year of three information lecterns at the site. It offers families and heritage groups the chance to become closely involved with the Trust to enhance the site at Stirling Bridge.

The Trust has also received the support of local businesses, including Stirling-based United Auctions, Scotland’s leading livestock auctioneers and host of the world-famous Stirling Bull Sales.

Neil McLean, Group Joint Managing Director of United Auctions said: “We’re delighted to support the Guardians of Scotland Trust with this leading national heritage project.

“People visit the site of the Battle of Stirling Bride from far and wide and it’s vital to commemorate the roles of Andrew De Moray and William Wallace at such a crucial point in the story of Stirling and Scotland.”

Peter Stewart of Tradstocks Natural Stone in Thornhill, Stirlingshire, provided stone for the benches, which he designed with Alistair MacDuff of Stirling-based architectural practice, MacDuff Architects.

As demand is expected to high, anyone wishing to register interest in purchasing one of the Stones for Stirling Bridge should in the first instance, email Kathleen O’Neill [email protected] noting interest.