Rare chance to see surviving link to William Wallace

One of only two surviving documents with a personal link to William Wallace is going on display at National Records of Scotland (NRS) for one day only.

Letter found on William Wallace when he was captured by the English goes on show in Edinburgh in rare public display

Photograph by: NRSRare link to William Wallace goes on display

The event, part of Edinburgh Doors Open Day, offers a chance to see the 700-year-old parchment letter, last displayed in 2014, which can only be shown rarely and under controlled conditions.

Explaining the letter’s significance, NRS archivist Dr Tristram Clarke said: “Written in November 1300, the document offers a tantalising glimpse into a mysterious period of Wallace’s career. King Philip IV of France wrote to his agents in Rome, commanding them to ask Pope Boniface VIII to view William Wallace favourably.

“The letter proves Wallace played a role in the turbulent politics of medieval Europe, when the Pope was trying to encourage peace between England and France, and to challenge England’s claim to control Scotland.”

William Wallace statue in Aberdenn

William Wallace statue in Aberdeen

Wallace was eventually betrayed, captured by the English and executed in London in 1305. King Philip’s letter was discovered in the Tower of London in the 1830s.

In 2011 a panel of expert historians and archivists concluded it was likely to have been in Wallace’s possession when he was captured. It is currently on loan to the National Records of Scotland from The National Archives in London.

Wallace inspired campaigners for women’s suffrage and Doors Open Day also provides a final chance to learn about their story and to see an amazing selection of original records in our exhibition ‘Malicious Mischief? Women’s Suffrage in Scotland’.

There will also be a display of documents for young visitors to mark the Year of Young People, with opportunities to meet and chat to archivists, conservators and statisticians, and guided tours of General Register House and New Register House.

Visitors, who book places in advance, will get access to New Register House to view this fascinating document between 10am and 4pm on Saturday 29 September 2018.