William Wallace and Andrew Moray

Many important Scots had sworn loyalty to Edward I but pockets of resistance continued. Two major rebellions developed by early 1297.

In the north east of Scotland, Andrew Moray led a campaign against English rule. Across the south west, William Wallace was engaged in skirmishes with English forces.

Andrew Moray

Although often a forgotten figure in comparison to William Wallace, far more is known about Andrew Moray. He came from a noble family with land across the north of Scotland.

He fought with his father against Edward I's forces at the Battle of Dunbar and spent a period in captivity in England following the Scottish defeat. He escaped and quickly gathered a strong force of followers in the north of Scotland.

Moray led his supporters in recapturing strategically important castles such as Inverness and Banff. By the middle of 1297 he had driven the English south of the River Tay.

As he moved south of Dundee, he learned of the activities of William Wallace, as well as the submission of most of the Scottish nobility to Edward I at Irvine.

In Wallace, he found a man with a similar commitment to John Balliol and to a Scotland free of Edward I.

William Wallace

William Wallace
William Wallace was first described as an 'outlaw' in 1297

Little is known of William Wallace before the events of 1297, apart from that he was born in Ayrshire.

Much of what is assumed about Wallace is sourced from the writings of an author known as Blind Harry. Blind Harry wrote the poem 'The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace', more commonly known as 'The Wallace', which recounted the events of William Wallaces' life.

However, this was created around 1477, 172 years after Wallaces' death. It is not thought to be trustworthy.

Some information about Wallace is generally accepted to be true:

  • he is first mentioned by English contemporary sources as an outlaw
  • he is reported to have killed the English Sheriff of Lanark, in May 1297 - gaining him support among many Scots
  • he led a rebellion across Scotland, attacking English soldiers and officials
  • he was supported by important figures such as Bishop Wishart of Glasgow, the noble Sir William Douglas and Robert Bruce
  • although many nobles supported Wallace openly at first, they surrendered to Edward’s forces at Irvine in Spring 1297
  • Wallace himself refused to surrender and continued his fight against English occupation
  • he probably avoided capture in the summer months by hiding in Selkirk Forest
  • Wallace moved north at the end of summer - meeting and joing forces with Andrew Moray near Dundee