Paisley and Renfrewshire play an integral role in the lives of two of Scotland’s most venerated heroes – William Wallace and King Robert the Bruce.
Some debate still exists as to the birthplace of William Wallace, Scotland’s Braveheart. But the famous 15th century poem The Wallace, by Blind Harry, names his father as one Sir Malcolm of Elderslie, in Renfrewshire, and Elderslie is still commonly held to be his birthplace.
Legend also tells of the young Wallace being educated by the monks of Paisley. As the second son of a minor noble, Wallace may have been expected to become a priest. Of course, his life took a very different direction…
The tragic tale of Marjory Bruce, eldest daughter of King Robert the Bruce, came to its conclusion in Paisley.
The young Marjory had been taken prisoner by the English after her father seized the vacant crown of King of Scots. Imprisoned in the Tower of London for years, the young woman was only released once her father and the Scots army had fought and won the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
In 1315, Marjory was married to one of the Bruce’s most loyal lieutenants, Walter Fitzalan, the High Steward to the King – a descendant of the Walter Fitzalan who had founded Paisley Abbey some 150 years before.
Legend has it that, on 2 March 1316, the pregnant Marjory was riding home to her husband’s castle in Renfrew when she accidentally fell from her horse. Her baby was delivered by ceasarian section but young Marjory died – her death as tragic as her life had been.
The Wallace Monument stands in Elderslie. A stained glass window depicting William Wallace stands in the southern aisle of Paisley Abbey.
The Marjory Bruce Cairn stands on the Renfrew Road in Paisley.