The National Wallace Monument is celebrating its 150th anniversary today (Wednesday 11 September) and we're hailing the world’s long-lasting love affair with the Scottish hero.
William Wallace may have died over 700 years ago but his legacy lives on with visitors flocking to the monument, built in his honour, year after year.
Statistics reveal that since the landmark opened its doors in 1869 it's welcomed an estimated 9 million visitors from countries across the globe.
While this anniversary stands out in the monument’s history, another event which had a profound impact was the release of Hollywood blockbuster film, Braveheart.
The hit movie, which depicted a fictious telling of the freedom fighter, had such an impact on Scotland’s tourism industry that it was voted the third greatest tourism moment over the last 50 years in a poll to celebrate our recent 50thanniversary.
Prior to the premiere of the Mel Gibson epic, annual visitor numbers to the monument were in the region of 80,000 per year and by 1998 they reached a record figure of 184,265.
For ten years following the release, the average annual number of visitors to the Monument was 135,000 and it's maintained over 100,000 visitors in subsequent years. In a survey conducted at the Monument in 2011, the film was identified by 38% of all visitors as the principal motivation for making their visit.
The National Wallace Monument welcomes visitors from 94 countries each year and staff at the landmark often meet visitors from different parts of the world who are diehard Wallace fans – including a German visitor who sported a tattoo of Wallace’s face on the back of his leg.
There have also been celebrity visitors over the years including Ellie Goulding, Novak Djokovic and Sam Heughan.
The story of William Wallace has fascinated and inspired people from around the world for centuries and continues to be a big draw for visitors to Scotland today.
The National Wallace Monument, built in his honour 150 years ago, now attracts over a hundred thousand visitors each year, each of whom leave with a deeper understanding of Wallace and the legacy he left behind.
This year has been an exciting one for the Monument – our interior exhibition spaces were totally transformed, and we have held a programme of special events throughout the year, as we strive to tell the fascinating story of William Wallace to both the people of Scotland and visitors from all over the world better than it has ever been told before.
To celebrate the 150th milestone, visitors will be treated to a fun day of festivities around the Abbey Craig, which is the jutting hill upon which the monument was built.
A re-enactment of the Battle of Stirling Bridge, the famous conflict where Wallace defeated Edward I’s army in 1297, along with the cutting of an incredible two-foot cake replica of the monument are some of the activities to be enjoyed on the day.
A family-friendly festival, Wallace Wha’ Hae will also take place at the weekend to continue the celebrations. The two events have been awarded £25,000 from EventScotland – part of our events directorate.
The National Wallace Monument is one of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks and a beacon for the country’s history and culture.
Reaching the 150th anniversary is an incredible achievement for the staff there and the many predecessors who came before them. It's right then that we celebrate them and the man himself with the Wallace 150 and Wallace Wha’ Hae events.
Wallace and his monument have made a huge impression on visitors and as times have changed so has the visitor experience on the Abbey Craig meaning it's still going strong a century and half later.
We need to create world class experiences, events and attractions to keep up with ever-changing visitor demands. Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it's the heartbeat of the Scottish economy and touches every community, generating income, jobs and social change.