Siol nan Gaidheal
five swords

A newspaper engraving was acquired recently, concerning the laying of the foundation stone of the Wallace Monument:

Five Swords
It's about a 0.5 Mb download.

The foundation stone for the Wallace Monument was laid with due pomp and ceremony on the 24th June, 1861. It took 8 years to complete. The newspaper cutting accompanying the engraving states:


1. The first of these national relics was the sword of Sir William Wallace, granted to the magistrates of Stirling by H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge, Commanding-in-Chief, with the consent of the Secretary of State for War. This interesting relic of ancient times has been retained in Dumbarton Castle since Wallace was sent to London to be executed. In 1505, James IV., when on a visit to the castle, according to the books of the Lord Treasurer, expended a sum of money in beautifying the sword called "Walis's Sword," and in procuring a new scabbard with accompanying belts. It is a two-handed weapon, measuring from point to point five feet seven inches, and weighing 6lb 7oz., forming, indeed, a "terrible thing" in such a hand as his. The handle is covered in blue velvet.

2. The sword of King Robert Bruce, kindly sent by the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, is an instrument which seems to have seen much service. It is also a two-handed weapon, and measures somewhere about five feet two or three inches. The noble Bruce seems not to have trusted much to the guard of his sword if we may compare it with that of fig 5, or even with that of Wallace.

3. This is the single-handed, double-edged sword of Wallace's copatriot and sincere friend, Sir John de Graeme, from the keeping of his Grace the Duke of Montrose. It is scarcely three feet and a half in length, but undoubtedly did many deeds of valour. Towards the hilt, and amongst the ornamentation of the blade, are inscribed the year 1406, with the initials S.F.G. Graeme was killed at the battle of Falkirk, to commemorate whose death Wallace himself erected a stone in the neighbouring churchyard:-

Sir John ye Grame verry vicht and wyse,
One of the Chiefes relievit Scotland thryse;
Fought with ys sword, and ner thought schame,
Commandit nane to Beir it Bot his name.

4. The sword of the Laird of Lundin - also a friend of our hero - is supposed to have been used at the battle of Stirling, and, being two-handed, is much the same length as that of Bruce. It is in the possession of Lady Willoughby d'Eresby, who kindly lent it for the occasion. The head part of the handle, which is on the one side open, is intended to be filled with lead, according as required by the bearer. The handle is covered with leather tightly bound with thick cord.

5. The sword of the "Black Douglas" is a most formidable weapon. Unlike those of Bruce and Lundin, the guards are most elaborate, and show a considerable deal of art and beauty. Its length is about five feet seven or eight inches, and belongs to W.Campbell, Esq., of Tillichewan. The handle is fringed and otherwise ornamented. But the chief peculiarity is its slender appearance, and the notched, sawlike blade, which only terminates a few inches from the point."


We all know the Wallace sword hangs in the monument itself, and a copy of the Bruce sword is on display in the Abbot's House in Dunfermline (Lord Elgin retains the original). But it would be interesting to know the current whereabouts of the other three. There's a bit of debate about the basket hilt sword alleged to be Sir John de Graeme's as it's of too late a date to have been used at Falkirk by Sir John. Another cutting we were told about stated:

"Over the tombstone there has lately been fixed a well-executed casting of the two-handed sword used by the hero on his last war-field. The following are its inscriptions: - On one side of the blade, "Casting of the sword used by Sir John de Graeme at the battle of Falkirk, 22nd July, 1298," and, on the other side, "Cast at Falkirk ironworks, 3rd May, 1869, from the original in the possession of the Auchterarder, No. 46, Lodge of Freemasons." The length of the sword over all is now 5 feet 4 inches, and of the blade 4 feet. But as it was originally 6 inches longer, the extreme length, at one time, would be 5 feet 10 inches."

It would be fascinating to know if the Auchterarder Lodge still has this sword in its possession.

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