Several years ago an amazing journey began for David Robertson Ross, the well-known Scottish writer and historian.

He was plain old ‘Big Davy Ross' then, and associated with the Society of William Wallace, which had been set up many years ago to honour William Wallace, Scottish patriot and martyr.

Davy was very aware that the 700 th anniversary of the brutal judicial murder and dismemberment of Scotland's most famous son was approaching fast. He decided that he had to commemorate the life and death of Sir William Wallace, and the first hint of a plan began to formulate in his mind.

David before the start of his long walk

Davy was afraid that the date of the execution would pass in the homeland of Wallace with barely a mention. He knew in his heart that this travesty should not be allowed to happen. The 23 rd of August 2005 would be the day of the anniversary and Davy planned on a commemorative service in the place where Wallace was murdered, namely London, the very heart and capital city of England. How would this be achieved? Davy pondered long and hard trying to organise this amazing event.

He concluded that he would walk as closely as possible the route Sir William Wallace would have taken when he was dragged to London on 3 rd of August 1305. Davy was taking on a walk of over 400 miles, it was a daunting thought, but for Davy it took on the mantle of a pilgrimage. (As many people know, Davy is a biker and I think secretly his poor wee feet would have preferred to go by motorcycle.)

Wallace had been betrayed by a fellow Scot and captured at Robroyston in Glasgow, the site now marked by a memorial in the shape of a large Celtic cross, and nearby is the place where we believe Wallace had his last drink as a free man-Wallace's Well.

Patriots see David off. In London Wallace faced a farcical trial and was condemned to die a horrific death, by being hung drawn and quartered. Edward the first was king of England, and ordered Wallace executed and his body distributed to all corners of his realm. To the very last, heroic Wallace was defiant claiming that he did not commit treason as charged, because he had never sworn allegiance to anyone except Scotland's legal king, John Balliol.

The last thing Wallace would have seen, as his heroic eyes closed for the last time, would have been Smithfield market and St. Bartholomew's Church. Davy Ross decided this was the place to hold the service to the martyred Scot.

Preparations began in earnest and Davy found Scots willing to help in all manner of ways. (You can read the background to all this in Sir David's new book which comes out shortly it is aptly titled…. 'For Freedom…..Alone' )

So it was going to happen and Davy worked tirelessly towards that goal.

The third of August was a very emotional day for David. It began at the commemoration stone to Sir William Wallace at Robroyston near Glasgow.

David addressed the gathering in his own eloquent way and informed everyone why he had undertaken this pilgrimage to Wallace. He went on to say that, it was disgraceful that the site of this great Scottish patriot's betrayal was not even signposted and that the local council should put this to rights immediately.

David then introduced Ted Christopher to the company. Ted, who is a singer and songwriter, had composed a new song to commemorate the life and death of William Wallace, and what he meant to Scotland. The words were haunting and there were few dry eyes when he finished singing. Ted had been the songwriter responsible for the Dunblane commemorative song that went to Number 1 in the charts and made a lot of money for the fund.

Ted Christopher

Verse 1

I did not close my eyes for the last time,

Under Caledonian skies

With my good friends gathered all around me,

To say their last goodbyes,

But I will not be forgotten, in the heart of every Scot I still live on,

And it's time to fly the Saltire high –

My spirit's coming home.



I'm coming home, back where I belong

It's coming home – my spirit's coming home


Verse 2

They tore apart my body so I could not rise on Judgment Day

But what they did not realise is now I'll never go away

I'm coming back to the land I love –

To the people I hold dear

To Scotland, St. Andrew and Freedom.


Verse 3

Returning after all this time

To Caledonia's skies,

To the country that I died for

So that our nation could survive

Once again to stand beside

The people I hold dear,

For Scotland, St. Andrew and Freedom.

VIDEO Ted Christopher sings I'm Coming Home CLICK HERE

David closed the ceremony to a rousing applause from the people gathered there, and headed off for the first segment of his long, lonely walk for Wallace

David sets off for London

David's next event was a Civic Reception by Glasgow Council at the City Chambers in George Square. He was met in Glasgow by a plethora of pressmen, who fired non-stop questions at him. There were plenty of photographs taken and Radio Clyde and other radio stations interviewed David. The BBC cameras and crew were on hand and also interviewed him before he left.
David with the deputy Lord Provost in George Square

The Deputy Lord Provost attended, and wished David well on his Journey. David took all this in his stride, and when all the commotion died down, he once more headed off, on the start proper of his epic journey. Big David Ross hopes to raise the Scottish spirit, and unite the Scottish people to re-assess and renew their patriotic vows.

David being interviewed by Radio Clyde

The walk itself was a physical and mental strain on David as day after day he pounded out the miles. He suffered in many ways including hallucinating, blisters and of course boredom. He was hampered by the press on his mobile phone, although he realised he had to have them on his side for all the publicity he was producing. There were times of deep distress as this was a huge undertaking for David, and thankfully all his hard training paid off. He soldiered on through the summer sun and made every Scot very proud of his endurance.

David walked steadily towards London , but was desperate to attend the commemorative events at Aberdeen and Stonehaven for William Wallace, on the 19 th and 20 th of August. David decided that if he walked extra miles every day then he could afford the time to backtrack all the way north for the weekend. By this stage in the journey, David had reached Luton and was within easy walking distance of London. His epic trek was coming near to closure. Thankfully, he would not be walking back to the north, but Dennis would be driving him there in the van.


On Friday evening, Aberdeen was first to hold court for patriotic Scots to pay homage to this great Scottish hero and martyr. The commemoration was held at the monument to Sir William Wallace, situated at Rosemount Viaduct. The ceremony started with the pipes and drums of the Portlethen and District Pipe Band, bringing everyone together.

David arrives in Aberdeen
Torches were ignited, and the venue took on a strange glow in the flickering flames emanating from the blazing torchlight.
David speaks in Aberdeen

Jim Singer opened proceedings, followed by Sir Toni Paprotny, who recited a prayer in flawless Latin. Lieutenant- Colonel Marshall Blackett, read the prayer again, but this time in English. Next on the agenda was David Wilkie, who said a few words about Wallace, then later read one of his poems dedicated to the great Scottish hero.

David Ross had just returned from his walk, and always speaks with passion; he indeed raised the crowd with his patriotic words. By the end of his talk, everyone there realised what being Scottish was all about. The procession then moved to the musical venue for the evening, which was the ‘Forum' a fantastic night was had by all. The music of Schltrum stirred the blood and the drumming and singing of, ‘Clann an Dumma' shook the building to its core.


Saturday was Stonehaven, and the weather was wonderful, with bright sunshine (God knows his own).

The procession started from the car park in Stonehaven and walked the two miles to Dunnottar Castle, climbing steeply all the time. The pathway that winds sharply downwards to the dramatic shoreline accesses the castle itself. The only ‘fly in the ointment' so to speak was local Tory councillor Wendy Agnew, who single handily removed the Saltire from the Town Hall before the procession arrived there. At least she did not manage to replace it with the Union flag, which had been her intention.

David marching in Stonehaven
Pipe band lead the commemoration

When the ceremony was over everyone went back to the town for refreshments. Later that night the event graduated to the town hall with the ever-popular Gaberlunzie, playing to a great crowd of admirers.These people know how to get a place moving and they proceeded to rock the rafters. Clann an Drumma were on again, and it was a memorable evening.

David Robertson Ross finished the evening with a stirring speech about being Scottish and the crowd loved it. He also asked as many as possible to London on the 23 rd of August for a belated funeral for our greatest ever Scot, Sir William Wallace.

And so to London.

London , the capital of England had not witnessed a scene like this since the days of the ‘Tartan Army' this was no football match but a solemn occasion to honour a great Scottish patriot and Martyr.

For all those who attended the Wallace celebrations of Tuesday 23 rd of August 2005, that day will be embedded within our minds for the rest of our lives. It was magnificent, unforgettable and memorable.

It started with a commemorative speech by David Ross at Westminster Hall at 11.15 am .

Marchers in London

You should have seen the place. It was swimming in tartan, kilts and the sound of the pipes, with people greeting one another in such an emotional way that, somehow, even the noise of the workers repairing a wall within the precinct did not detract the growing atmosphere within the Hall.

Inside, the atmosphere was sparkling. One of the pipers, who had played at Stonehaven the previous Saturday, was already entertaining the growing crowd with a few tunes. When David arrived, the entire hall vibrated with the welcome given to him by all of us. You could hear the applauses and cheers from the outside. The SNP representatives gave a quick speech but most of us only wanted to hear what David Ross, had to say. When David spoke, the hush that followed was simply dramatic. You could have heard a pin fall. When a song relating to Wallace began, the emotion was just palpable.

The tourists simply could not believe what they saw and heard.

When the hall resounded with the continuous shout of ‘Wallace' (it went on for a good two minutes), those who had not been concerned with the event simply stopped and looked in shock. But that was the idea… We wanted to be seen, we wanted to be heard, we wanted London and the rest of the world to realise that we were there for the most valid reason anyone can think of.
The plaque in Westminster Hall

This was about Wallace and Scottish Patriotism in the raw so to speak. We wanted them to get the message.

Saltires in London

Coming out of Westminster Hall, we then marched for six miles through London, the Police (again, mainly Scots) clearing the road and stopping the traffic. The day was glorious. Not a cloud in the sky (except for a Saltire seen by many at 5.30 am that day!) and a slight breeze to keep us reasonably cool.

Therefore, we marched, an army of Saltire flags fluttering in the wind, to the sound of the pipes, piping at the head of the column, in the middle of the column and at the end of the column, with David leading with the large strides that only a man of 6 foot 5in. can achieve.

Most visitors, when watching us going by, smiled and a few asked what it was all about. Wallace did not mean much to them but when someone said ‘Braveheart'; they all understood and gave the marchers the thumbs up.

French people simply screamed ‘ECOSSE' and quite a few followed us. Londoners merely looked away, thinking ‘more rebel Scots again' . You could read it on their faces; mixed with the arrogant look only they can come up with. Somehow, it made us even more determined in our steps, with the Saltire flags flying even higher and prouder.

Finally reaching Smithfield, we gathered by the plaque that marked the place were Wallace was executed. More speeches and more Scottish sound, this time by Clan An Drumma playing like they had never played before. There was fervour, passion and complete dedication to remembering Wallace.

Clann an Drumma await the marchers in Smithfield.
In the square, a window (fourth floor) opened and one of the natives shouted ‘F… Scotland '. Strangely, he was not brave enough to identify himself, and I am sure some of the Scots would have had a wee chat with him if he had.
VIDEO David Ross talks at the end of the march CLICK HERE


VIDEO Clann an Drumma at Smithfield CLICK HERE
When the coffin was brought in, draped in the Saltire flag, we all stood. Carried by six honest Scots, and piped in by Lt Cmdr. James Gee to the sound of ‘Flowers of the Forest ', the service began and would flow without a hitch, or any other problem. When Ian McAllister sang ‘Scots Wha Hae', we all joined in, not forgetting one verse.
David at the pulpit in St Bartholemews church

It was then time for the speeches. Dr Fiona Watson, from Stirling University, was typically academic and status quo, even uttering the word ‘failure' in her speech.Thank God that Ted Christopher came on after her. His wonderful patriotic song ‘I'm Coming Home' made everyone cry (and I mean everyone!). There was not a dry eye to be seen and the hankies were working overtime.

The end of the service saw the coffin, now closed and draped again, being carried and piped out to the tune of ‘Lord Lovat's Lament'. And for one last mile, it was carried to the Welsh Centre behind the Alaska Highlanders Pipe Band who had specially flown in for the days' commemoration.

Thanks to The Reverend Dr Martin Dudley (25 th Rector of St Bartholomew the Great) and The Reverend Alan Sorensen, the service had been both solemn and humorous.
Carrying the coffin out of the church

But the last mile was the most memorable. To see almost one thousand Saltire Flags flying in the London breeze, all the same light blue and white, was quite magnificent and exhilarating. Heads turned, people stopped at the sight of coffin, tartan, pipes and flags passing by. This had not been seen in London before.

Wallace's coffin being taken through the streets of London

On Sunday 11 of September, the coffin would be placed in its rightful resting place at St Kentigern Church in Lanark.

Would Scotland heed the call? Would you be there to see Scotland's greatest son settled in his final resting place? I'd like to think that you would. History must never be forgotten. England celebrated Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar. But what does he have to do with Scotland? Nothing. Wallace, however, did a lot more for our ancestors than Nelson ever did. He reminded us that Scotland's nationhood was (is) as valid as that of the English. Wallace told our folks to stand up proud and be counted. Wallace died for the concept of freedom and all of us should be grateful for the fact that without him, Scotland would have been anglicised a long time ago.

The next stage of Sir David's journey would be to Lanark for the commemoration planned for the 9 th , 10 th , and 11 th of September.

Wallace's coffin in the Castle of Lees

The next stage of Sir David's journey would be to Lanark for the commemoration planned for the 9 th , 10 th , and 11 th of September.

Sunday, September 11th, the day that the Spirit of Wallace would finally come to Lanark and take place of pride in the Royal Burgh where Wallace fell in love, wedded Marion and begat a daughter before Marion was cut down in the prime of her life.

A few days before Sunday, the Baron of Lee had intimated that he would be honoured if the Spirit of Wallace could lie in state overnight in the castle's private Chapel. This was fitting indeed. (Once upon a time the seat of the Lockarts of Lee (who with Douglas and others took the heart of the Bruce to Spain on an intended Crusade, but unfortunately Douglas was cut down at the siege of the castle in Teba). The grounds may have been very familiar to Wallace. And so, on Saturday afternoon and to the sound of the pipes, carried by the very people who had carried the Spirit of Wallace in London, the precious casket, led by the Baron, Bishop David Stalker (Primus of the Celtic Church in Scotland) was taken to the Chapel. Candles burned all night. As one of the Pall Bearers was required to play the pipes, I myself had the privilege to take a corner of the coffin on the Saturday evening and the Sunday morning. This was a fantastic experience for me and I felt as if I have been a part of history.

The day had begun. Making our way to the Cartland Bridge Hotel for the procession to the Royal Burgh of Lanark.

The sky suddenly decided to clear and rays of sunshine exploded on a scene of tartan, Saltire flags and high expectation. Was this to be another glorious day as we had had in London? Frank Gunning, bless him, was everywhere, getting groups ready and in the right places.

Old friends greeted each other and spirits soared high. Then, the Spirit of Wallace, now transferred on a horse drawn cart, took the lead and the various groups followed to the sound of a pipe band. The Baron, his lovely lady, his brother, his friends, followed suit. Again, Saltires flew high and many people where waiting for us along the road, waving, happy to see their favourite man coming home.

David Ross speaks to the masses in Lanark Reaching the Cross Gate in Lanark, the Spirit of Wallace was set upon a bier and the speeches started. The Bishop blessed the crowd; the Lord Provost did the Burgh proud, The Grand Prior of the Knights Templar reminded us of the similarity between the lives of St John the Baptist and Wallace.
David Ross reminded what Wallace stood for and the need to remember him.
On to 6.30 PM, we all met in the park for more speeches. Ted Christopher was then asked to sing his song for Wallace ‘I'm Coming Home'. As Ted started to sing, to everyone's amazement, up in the sky, and I am not kidding, clouds formed a Saltire cross.
David speaks in the park.
It lasted during Ted's rendition and Ronnie Brown's ‘Oh Flower of Scotland'. As soon as Ronnie finished singing, the clouds parted and the cross of St Andrew fluttered away. People where telling each other that this was an omen. I was hoping they were right


VIDEO Ronnie Browne sings Flower o' Scotland CLICK HERE

VIDEO Ted Christopher sings I'm Coming Home CLICK HERE

The most spectacular part of the day was the procession taking the Sprit of Wallace to the 12th century Old St Kentigern's Church (where he married Marion and the place where she is possibly buried). The Spirit of Wallace made its way into the grounds of St Kentigern, to the sound of the pipes, to meet Marion , appearing out of the mist and followed by six monks and John Blair, who in real life had been Wallace's personal chaplain. Torches, high and low, were burning and a brazier was set aflame by the phantom appearance of Marion. Suddenly, the remains of St Kentigern's Church stood red, as if in flames itself.

Torchlight Procession

Torches were distributed and lit and, to the sound of the pipes, we marched back through the Royal Burgh and its narrow streets. At one point, the Lady of Lee turned to look behind her and said to me ‘look behind you, it is a wonderful scene'. And so it was, 2.500 Scots men, women and children carrying a burning torch. The street looked like a burning river.

The fiery cross was alive and kicking, for miles. It was the most unique thing I had seen in years, all the way to the park.

When they tell you that Patriotism and the expectation of independence does not exist in Scotland, tell them about Lanark. Tell them about those 2500 voices that, in one accord, claimed it for themselves, repeatedly. Then the fireworks began. And what a show! For the Royal Burgh of Lanark, I would say that it truly gave the Edinburgh fireworks a run for its money. It was formidable.

And so, we came to the end of an amazing and wonderful time for Scotland. Thanks to David Robertson Ross, who had the courage of his convictions and showed just what Scots can achieve when they work together and stop fighting each other. ‘Big Davy' has not changed on a personal basis (Except for sore feet) but he hopes that what has been done in the name of Sir William Wallace will change the Scottish Nation as a whole.

David Ross at Robroyston

Back to Top

© Crann Tara 2006