After 700 years, Braveheart's spirit to have symbolic burial

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The Independent Online

His insides were torn out and burnt in front of him. He was then decapitated, his body cut into quarters and the limbs dispatched to various parts of Britain as bloody warnings, leaving nothing left to bury of William "Braveheart" Wallace, the great Scottish rebel leader.

But now, to mark the 700th anniversary of the execution of one of Scotland's national heroes in 1305, Wallace is to be given a symbolic burial at a small Lanarkshire church.

The coffin to be buried at St Kentigern's Church in Lanark, the place where Wallace is believed to have married his childhood sweetheart Marion Braidfute, will contain messages and tributes to Wallace. The burial is being organised by David Ross, the author of a book on Wallace, who said: "It is inconceivable that people like Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln would not be formally commemorated and the same should apply to Wallace. It is outrageous that he never had a proper burial and the 700th anniversary is the right time to do this."

He added: "But because of the particular manner of his death, there were no remains to bury and I believe it is important he should have a final resting place in his own country. The coffin will contain a symbolic gathering of his spirit that lives on in the hearts and minds of ordinary Scottish people. It will serve as a place of homage to his memory.''

Wallace, who led the rebellion against English rule in Scotland at the end of the 13th century after his father was killed by English troops, was captured and brought to London in 1305 where he was sentenced to death for treason by Edward I. Tied to horses, he was dragged for six miles through the city to a site next to St Bartholomew's church in Smithfield, where he was hung, drawn and quartered on 22 August, 1305.

His head was put on a spike at London Bridge and other parts of his body were sent around Britain to serve as a warning to others against rebellion - his right arm was displayed at Newcastle upon Tyne, his left arm at Berwick, his right leg at Perth, and the left leg at Aberdeen. But this brutality only served to revive Scottish nationalism and the rebellion, leading to Robert the Bruce being crowned king in 1306.

On 3 August next year, the 700th anniversary of Wallace's capture, Mr Ross will set off from the spot, at Robroyston, near Glasgow, where Wallace was captured, on a 19-day, 450-mile commemorative walk to London, arriving for a funeral service at St Bartholomew's on 22 August. The service is expected to be attended by scores of leading Scottish figures. The American actor Mel Gibson, who played the Scotsman and directed the Oscar-winning film Braveheart, has been invited, along with Sir Sean Connery.

The coffin will then be flown to Stirling in Scotland, where it will become the focus of an exhibition before the burial in the grounds of St Kentigern's later in the year.

Edward I, who conquered Scotland in the 1290s, particularly enraged the Scots by having the Stone of Destiny, the historic coronation stone of Scone, taken from Scone Abbey south to Westminster.

It was used in the coronation of English monarchs right up until that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952. It was returned to Scotland in 1996 when it was installed in Edinburgh Castle.