One of only two surviving documents with a personal link to William Wallace is going on display at National Records of Scotland (NRS) this Saturday, September 29, for Edinburgh Doors Open Day.
The event offers a chance to see the 700-year-old parchment letter, last displayed in 2014, which can only be shown rarely and under controlled conditions.
NRS archivist Dr Tristram Clarke said: “Written in November 1300, the document offers a tantalising glimpse into a mysterious period of Wallace’s career. King Philip IV of France wrote to his agents in Rome, commanding them to ask Pope Boniface VIII to view William Wallace favourably.
“The letter proves Wallace played a role in the turbulent politics of medieval Europe, when the Pope was trying to encourage peace between England and France, and to challenge England’s claim to control Scotland.”
Wallace was eventually betrayed, captured by the English and executed in London in 1305. King Philip’s letter was discovered in the Tower of London in the 1830s. In 2011 a panel of expert historians and archivists concluded it was likely to have been in Wallace’s possession when he was captured.
Wallace inspired campaigners for women’s suffrage and Doors Open Day also provides a final chance to learn about their story and to see an amazing selection of original records in our exhibition ‘Malicious Mischief? Women’s Suffrage in Scotland’.
There will also be a display of documents for young visitors to mark the Year of Young People, with opportunities to meet and chat to archivists, conservators and statisticians, and guided tours of General Register House and New Register House. Places must be booked.