Celebrations planned to mark ‘Braveheart’ anniversary

The National Wallace Monument by Stirling.
The National Wallace Monument by Stirling.

You will have heard the story, seen the film... and now’s the time to celebrate the anniversary.

Scotland has dominated the headlines for the last eight months, first with the Referendum and then the SNP landslide in the General Election.

And now the film that brought the line “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!” to cinema audiences across the world has inspired a summer tourist attraction.

The National Wallace Monument in Stirling, one of Scotland’s top tourism sites, has announced plans to mark the 20th anniversary of Braveheart’s release this summer with a with a programme of special events and activities, including a screening of the Academy Award winning film.

Between May and September the distinctive landmark, which was built to commemorate the warrior who famously led his men to victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, will feature activities for all ages, including costumed historians and interpreters bringing the story of William Wallace to life, giving dramatic performances that recreate episodes and scenes from his years.

Activities on offer include: ‘Tales from the Battlefield’, a live performance telling the story of an injured English soldier who stumbles into the woods after the Battle of Stirling Bridge and meets one of Wallace’s army; ‘In Wallace’s Footsteps’, where using a map and a letter of safe passage, a trail is followed to a Scots army camp, meetings historical characters along the way; and ‘A Walk with Wallace’, a 45-minute guided walk with costumed actors telling the story of Wallace’s famous encounter with King Edward.

After immersing themselves in a dramatic re-enactment of Scottish history, visitors can explore the magnificent monument itself where Wallace’s life is told in three galleries, one of which features his legendary battle sword. An impressive 246 steps can be climbed to reach the top of the monument, where visitors can stand in the ‘crown’ and take in the breath taking 360-degree view of central Scotland and the Highlands to the north.

Finally, 20 years after Stirling welcomed the stars of Braveheart for its premiere, the city will again see the Oscar-winning film screened at the MacRobert Arts Centre on the Stirling University campus, an evening set to evoke the same emotion and drama when Mel Gibson arrived for the launch of the film in 1995.

Ken Thomson, from Stirling District Tourism, said: “Twenty years since it hit the cinema screens, Braveheart is still as popular as ever.

“Since 1995 it has prompted thousands of people to make their way to Stirling to discover for themselves the story of William Wallace, his life and his legacy. This anniversary provides the ideal opportunity to mark the enduring popularity and appeal of the film and remind visitors from home and abroad just what’s on offer at The National Wallace Monument.”

The monument now features a newly-refurbished coffee shop and café, free car parking and a gift shop stocking the recently-launched Braveheart Bear.