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.
Hidden among the trees on the high ground Wallace and Murray watched as the English army grew on the northern bank of the river.
The Scots waited until the English army crossed the wooden bridge in significant numbers, before attacking. The heavily armoured 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.
Half the English army stood helpless on one side of the river, while the others were trapped and massacred on the other side by the Scots. The bridge collapsed under the sheer weight of numbers, and the English who were not slain drowned as they tried to swim back across the Forth.
The rest of the English army fled Stirling.
The English dead totalled more than 10,000 that day and many more would die or be captured before the demoralised army escaped back over the border. Scottish casualties were low - but Andrew Murray had been seriously wounded. He never recovered, and died a few weeks later.
William Wallace emerged as the victor of Stirling Bridge.
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. Stirling has also been home to the National Wallace Monument, situated high on Abbey Craig overlooking the city and the site of his greatest triumph.
As well as the well known Robert the Bruce - Thomas Dickson (1247–1307) himself has quite a history. He was associated with William Wallace, and was killed by the English in 1307 in battle. Tradition states he was slashed across the abdomen but continued to fight holding the abdominal wound closed with one hand until he finally dropped dead. He is buried in the churchyard of St Brides, Douglas, and his marker shows him with a sword in one hand holding his belly with the other.
Robert the Bruce made him Castellan of Castle Douglas the year before he was killed.
Stephen of Ireland who was also to become one of Wallace's closest allies.
In 1305 Wallace was betrayed, captured and taken to London to face a mock trial in Westminster Hall. Edward had hired a team of Scottish knights to track down the rebel who continued to defy his authority. Sir John Menteith was first to the quarry. No-one knows how he learned of the hiding place, but Wallace was captured in his sleep, put in chains, and taken to London. Found guilty of treason, he was dragged to Smithfield and executed.
Sir Andrew Moray of Bothwell remained loyal to Wallace and his cause.