Scotland's History, Legends, Wildlife and Hunting Practices...because the past lives in us and guides our footsteps.



After this many people gathered round Wallace, so that
he was soon at the head of an army of men all eager to
drive the English out of Scotland. These men were
nearly all of the common people, for most of the great
lords were too proud to follow a leader who was only
a poor gentleman. Besides, many of the great lords
had lands both in England and in Scotland, and it did
not seem to them to matter much whether Edward of
England ruled over Scotland or not Indeed, as in any
case they had to do homage to him for their lands in
England, some of them would have been glad that he
should have been King of Scotland also, so that they
might have only one master instead of two.

Wallace was clever as well as brave, and in a short
time he had driven almost all the English out of the
south of Scotland. The people loved him, and men, and
women too, were ready to fight and die for him.

At last the English, seeing that they could not conquer
Wallace, tried to take him by treachery. They pretended
that they wished to make peace, and they invited Wallace
and all the Scottish nobles who had joined him, to meet
in a council in the town of Ayr.

The meeting was to be held in a large house, built of
wood, just outside the town. This place was called the
Barns of Ayr.



Glad at the thought of peace, and suspecting no evil,
the Scottish knights and nobles agreed to come to the
council So, lightly armed and gaily clad, they rode along
by twos and threes to the place of meeting.

All seemed peaceful and quiet. But as each man
leapt from his horse and entered the barn he was seized,
a rope was flung round his neck, and before he could utter
a word he was hanged from the beams of the roof.

Knight after knight entered that awful house. Many
went in, but none came out again. The English soldiers
stood ready waiting, and silently and quickly did their
cruel work.

Knight after knight came, but Wallace, Wallace the
chief of all, the man whom they most wished to seize and
kill, did not come.

He never came. For a woman, unseen by the soldiers,
had crept close up to the barn. Something had warned
her that within all was not fair and true. So she watched
and waited, and at last she found out what deadly work
was being done.

Not a moment did she waste. Fast as feet could carry
her she sped away to warn Wallace. As she ran she met
him galloping towards the Barns. He knew he was late,
but he hoped yet to be in time to help to make peace for
his country, so he urged his horse to greater speed.

‘Oh hold you, hold you, brave Wallace !’ cried the
woman, as soon as she saw him. ‘ Go not near the Barns
of Ayr, for there the English have hanged all your best
men like dogs.’

Wallace stopped his horse, and as he listened to the
woman‘s tale, he reeled in his saddle, as if he had been
struck. Then he turned and went back to his men, his
heart brimming over with rage and pain.

That night the English soldiers feasted and rejoiced


over their cruel deeds. Then they lay down to sleep.
Some of them slept in the very house in which they had
killed so many brave and unsuspecting Scotsmen ; others
lay in houses near.

When all was dark and quiet, the woman who had
warned Wallace went through the town. On every
house in which the English slept she set a white mark.

Behind the woman came Wallace and his men.
Wherever they saw the white mark, they piled up
branches of trees and firewood against the house. When
all was ready they set light to each pile. The houses
were all built of wood, and soon the whole town was
filled with the roar and crackle of flames, and the shrieks
of the dying.

The English tried in vain to escape, for Wallace and
his men stood round ready to kill them or to drive them
back again into the flames. They cried for mercy, but
the Scots had none. It was a cruel death, but those
were cruel times, and the Scots had terrible wrongs to

In the morning nothing remained but smoking ruins
strewn with dead. This was called the Black Parliament
of Ayr. Some of the English had been quartered in the
monastery near. When the Prior heard of what Wallace
was doing he bade all the monks to rise and arm them­
selves. Then they fell upon the soldiers and put them all
to death. The monks were as merciless as Wallace and
his men had been, and the people called the slaughter
The Friar of Ayr’s Blessing.

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