Scottish Parliament to exhibit medieval William Wallace letter

12/01/2012

A 700-year-old letter believed to have been in the possession of William Wallace will go on display alongside the famous Lübeck letter in Scotland this August. This unique exhibition at the Scottish Parliament has been developed in partnership with the National Records of Scotland.

Announcing the free exhibition, which will run from Friday 10 to Friday 31 August 2012 in Holyrood’s Main Hall, Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick MSP said: “At the Scottish Parliament, we pride ourselves on hosting exciting and innovative exhibitions.

"This unique exhibition promises to shine a light on Scotland’s past. As part of our annual Festival of Politics, showing these valuable artefacts together, alongside a related programme of lectures and debates, will give our visitors a wonderful opportunity to experience Scottish history at Holyrood.”

The letter’s return to Scotland was announced today by the Scottish Government’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP, at the National Records of Scotland.

Ms Hyslop said:  “I am delighted to welcome the Wallace letter back to Scotland. It is one of the few surviving artefacts with a direct link to William Wallace and a fascinating fragment of our nation’s history. To have it here in Scotland, where it can be viewed by the Scottish public, is very significant indeed.

“This summer, the Wallace letter and the Lübeck letter will be displayed side by side in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view together the only two surviving documents directly connected to William Wallace.

"I am very much looking forward to the Scottish Parliament hosting this exhibition during the Year of Creative Scotland 2012.”

Both letters are fragile and can only go on display under controlled lighting for a very limited period every few years. The Wallace letter has been held in England since it was discovered in the Tower of London in the 1830s. It is now on long-term loan to the National Records of Scotland after an agreement was reached with The National Archives in Kew.

The Lübeck letter is being loaned by the archives of the City of Lübeck, with the agreement of the Mayor and Council. It was last shown in Scotland in 2005, during the ‘For Freedom Alone’ exhibition at the Scottish Parliament. 

 

Background

During 2010-2011, the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee considered the return of the letter.

PE1350: Petition by Nick Brand calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to make a formal loan request to the National Archives in Kew to return the Wallace Safe Conduct to Scotland under a permanent loan agreement.