Stirling’s National Wallace Monument is set to add the first female figurehead to the Hall of Heroes gallery within the famous Scottish landmark.
The Hall of Heroes is recognised as a commemoration of leading figures that have made major contributions or achieved notable success throughout Scotland’s history.
The 16 busts depicting legends such as King Robert the Bruce, Sir Walter Scott and John Knox represent men who have shaped Scotland’s history, exhibited selflessness or personal commitment to social improvement, and were leaders in their fields, achieving worldwide recognition.
A number of the busts were funded by public subscription with others in the collection donated by benefactors, including Andrew Carnegie, who contributed the first bust of Robert Burns in 1886. The last addition to the Hall of Heroes was Scottish physicist Sir David Brewster, whose bust was installed in 1907.
During the original selection process, there were two women nominated for inclusion but not finally chosen – Lady Elizabeth Wardlaw and Carolina Oliphant (Lady Nairne). It is thought that other women were also considered over the years.
In an ongoing project, a selection panel will discuss all of the nominations and agree a final shortlist of candidates, from a total of over 200 names suggested by Monument staff and by the Saltire Society. Visitors to the Monument and members of the public will also be able to make their choice before the final selection of a Scottish heroine.
The selection panel includes Zillah Jamieson, Chair of Stirling District Tourism Limited; Dolina Maclennan, Executive Board Member at the Saltire Society; Alison McCall, Convener of Women’s History Scotland; Bridget McConnell, Chief Executive at Glasgow Life; David Black, Vice-Chair at Stirling District Tourism; and Lorna Wilson, Stirling District Tourism.
Zillah Jamieson commented: “Over the years, visitors to the National Wallace Monument have repeatedly asked why no female figures from Scotland’s past are represented in the collection. Our response to date has been to reference the historic and somewhat out-dated nature of the selection criteria applied at that time in society.
“The time has undoubtedly come to change this and we are excited to be adding the first female figure to the Hall, and to make it even more special we are asking visitors to get involved in the selection process, as the final list will be put forward for public consideration.”
Alison McCall, Convener of Women’s History Scotland added: “It is wonderful to see an initiative such as this being implemented. For centuries women have been the unsung heroes – this project will acknowledge the role which women have played in Scottish society, and select a heroine who is worthy of recognition in such an important landmark.”
Dolina MacLennan, Executive Board Member at the Saltire Society said: “William Wallace’s sword takes pride of place along with a goodly number of busts of erstwhile famous Scottish men in the Hall of Heroes of the Wallace Monument in Stirling. However there are many Scottish women throughout history who had to wield a metaphorical sword to break through the ‘glass ceiling’ of their day. I am delighted that soon one of these remarkable heroines will be joining this hallowed company of men, and live in hope that many more of them will follow”.