Edward 1 invaded and subjected Scotland in 1296, massacring the townspeople of Berwick, stripping King John Balliol of his arms of Scotland and her symbols of nationhood, including the stone of destiny, Black Rood of St Margaret, and many other precious relics, jewels, documents and charters.
Against impossible odds, William Wallace and Andrew Moray raised an army, fought a guerrilla war against the English occupation, and, on 11 September 1297 inflicted a decisive defeat at Stirling Bridge.
The Scots waited until the English army crossed the wooden bridge in significant numbers, before attacking. The heavy English cavalry was trapped and unable to fight properly in the soft land around the River Forth; and a partial demolition of the bridge at the north end - organised by Wallace at a critical moment - threw many into the water, and the army was split and defeated.
After the death of Wallace in 1305, King Robert the Bruce continued the war. Bruce agreed to concede defeat if the English could lift the siege of Stirling Castle by the eve of St John the Baptist, midsummer's day, 1314. As ever, to take Stirling was to hold Scotland.
Stirling was backdrop to one of the most dramatic chapters of Wallace’s story - his famous victory against the English and impossible odds at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. For nearly 150 years it has also been home to the National Wallace Monument, situated high on Abbey Craig overlooking the city and the site of his greatest triumph.
In 1305 Wallace was betrayed, captured and taken to London to face a mock trial in Westminster Hall. Found guilty of treason, he was dragged to Smithfield and executed.