The Forest Laird-Introduction
Until as recently as the turn of the Millennium and the new century in which we are living, there has never been a Scot who would have dared challenge the bases of the myth of William Wallace. He was born some time around 1270 A.D., and that means the Scots had been worshipping him for nearly 700 years by the time I was born . . . 670 years, to be precise, why split hairs over a few decades? For at least six hundred of those years, William Wallace has been God in Scotland, and woe betide any Scot–or any non-Scot, for that matter–who thought or said anything to the contrary. Beyond the borders of Scotland, though, few people had ever heard of him.
But then along came the Braveheart movie and suddenly the whole world knew who he was–or at least they knew who Mel Gibson was. He appeared in the movie painted with blue woad, which hadn’t been seen in Scotland since the Roman legions landed in 55 BC, and wearing a tartan kilt that wouldn’t be worn until 500 years later, but by God, he was the Braveheart, notwithstanding the historical fact the the real Brave Heart was King Robert the Bruce… And again, why split hairs over a few errant facts?
The thing is, though, that for one reason and another, the whole Braveheart phenomenon gave rise to an entirely new wave of interest in the historical William Wallace, and that interest hasn’t even started to wane yet, let alone die down. New theories, new facts and new investigations are ongoing all the time nowadays and the Wallace story is still being excavated and uncovered, so that it’s now next to impossible to write anything about the man with confidence that it won’t be disputed or proved wrong in the foreseeable future. It was from that viewpoint, then, of attempting to discover something new about the real William Wallace, that I set out to do my own digging and draw my own conclusions about who and what the man might have been when he was alive. And as I found out more and more about the young champion, and about the hero that he was, I came to see him as The Forest Laird…