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William Wallace murdered Haselrigg, the English Sheriff of Lanark at the town’s Castle in May 1297. The reason for this act is the subject of dispute (possible explanations include the murder by Haselrigg of Wallace’s wife Marion Braidfute, although even this marriage is contested by some historians, it was not mentioned by Blind Harry in ‘The Wallace’ of 1506).
Regardless of the why’s and wherefore’s, this single act set Wallace on the path to his destiny; it brought him the support of much of the population, and galvanised ordinary Scots to rally to his flag.

Lanark’s name comes from it’s woollen industry (from the Norman French, the modern ‘laine’, meaning wool, is related to it); indeed Edward I’s tax on wool in 1296 (to finance a campaign in Flanders) inflamed local opinion and garnered Wallace much local support. Lanark Castle (sited on the current bowling green at the foot of the town’s Castlegate) was a timber tower, flanked by double ditches and a bailey to the west, and sharply falling ground to the south and east.

The town had a Greyfriars monastery, founded at the time of Robert the Bruce, it was located between Broomgate and Friars Lane. The site of a house reputed to have belonged to Wallace lies opposite the church of St Nicholas at the west end of the High Street (above the door of which a statue of Wallacewas placed in the early 19th Century).

An interesting remnant of the period can be found in the rear of one of the properties in the High Street, from Bernards Wynd a 13th Century gothic window can be seen; this was from a stone-built house, probably owned by the monks of Dryburgh (being the best house in the Town, it is likely that Wallace resided there after his defeat of the English forces at Stirling Bridge). In the grounds of Lanark’s old cemetery are the remains of the original St Kentigern’s Church, the south wall and chancel arch are from Wallace’s time.
Legend has it that he married Marion Braidfute here at an unknown date.

The North aisle of arches is post Wallace, however a small tombstone of late 13th Century was placed in the restored west end of the church, it depicts a sword of the period. Another tombstone of this era is similarly incorporated, probably marked the grave of a priest and has a floriated cross carved onto it. There is a further tombstone of a knight in the foyer of Lanark Library; the cross on it could indicate a connection with the Knights Templar.

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