The Scottish Play

Foreign Affairs

Edinburgh’s Quest for Independence and the Future of Separatism

“The monument to Sir William Wallace stands near the city of Stirling, a castle town not far from the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. On blustery days when the sun peeks through the clouds, the sandstone memorial glows golden and majestic. That is exactly the effect its Victorian-era creators intended: a tower of imagined antiquity meant to evoke the spirit of a freedom-loving Scot. In the late thirteenth century, Wallace helped lead an uprising against England’s King Edward I, for which he was eventually hanged, drawn, and quartered. There are no contemporary images of the hero depicted in the 1995 epic Braveheart, but when tourism began to boom after the film came out, enthusiasts made up their own. Until a few years ago, a bas-relief panel introduced the warrior-martyr to tour groups visiting the tower as they walked from the parking lot to the gift shop. The likeness was unmistakably that of Mel Gibson.”