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Some ten years ago, as part of the Glasgow 1999 celebrations to honour the city's new-found pride in its built environment, the curator of the now-closed Springburn Museum, Dr Gilbert T. Bell, crafted an informative and inspiring series of information sheets about the history of Springburn and the surrounding area.
One of those information sheets was entitled 'Wi' Wallace Bled', William Wallace: Local Hero and Guardian of Scotland. In the leaflet Dr Gilbert detailed both the reasons why the site of the Glasgow Wallace Monument is so important to this country, as well as the dangers and opportunities of future developments which might take place in the green belt area around the Robroyston monument.
In an outstanding introduction to the Wallace sheet, Dr Gilbert explained exactly why William Wallace still matters:
"The distinguished statesman and one-time Prime Minister, A. J. Balfour stated 'Nothing matters very much; few things matter at all'. It may be a rather cynical view but nonetheless it may be an accurate assessment. Things that truly matter are indeed very rare. In all history very few things matter very much. One of the very few people to have mattered as far as Scottish history is concerned was William Wallace.
"Visiting bookshops these days one cannot fail to be impressed by the number of books on Wallace ... [he] has become hugely popular. In one sense it is odd that so much has been written about Wallace for what we really know about him you could write on the back of an envelope. Countless myths and legends have taken the place of solid historical facts. Why so much has been written is not that we know so much but because he fires our imagination. We have heard the many stories and we imagine the kind of exploits he was likely to have been involved in. We can picture the man. We think we know him for we have heard so much about him and what we have learned we admire.
"He has become a symbol of what patriotism is all about. He really did fight and die for our 'Wee bit hill and glen'. He was Guardian of Scotland - a charismatic leader who truly led by example. He was the Scottish patriot par excellence. He, like few others, put national interests above self-interest. His was a truly noble life and he died a martyr's death. He puts present politicians in the shade, for he was a man of conviction, dedication and honour. He was a hero. He still remains a man to admire. All nations need their heroes and Wallace is one of ours because he stood for values that mattered and put his nation above personal glory. Wallace still matters ..."
Dr Gilbert added:
"Wallace is, however, not simply a national hero but a local one. Robroyston was the scene of his capture and betrayal. Because Wallace matters, Robroyston also matters. Places of real historical significance are thin on the ground.
"... at Robroyston one can stand on soil which one can rightly and proudly assume to be the very place once graced by the footsteps of one of Scotland's greatest sons and certainly her greatest champion of freedom. It is a place steeped in history."