BOTB Unveiling 090716


David R Ross came up with the idea of the Bell O' The Brae about 7 years ago, and I am chuffed to bits that we finished what the great man started. Before I talk about the day I have a few people to thank - Stevie Scott and Dennis McCue from LES at Glasgow District Council, David Turner and Craig Mackay, local Councillors, Sandra White MSP, our resident artist Andrew Hillhouse for the wonderful drawing, Roddy McDowall and Chris Chalmers, the two sculptors who brought Andy's drawing to life, Clann an Drumma for coming and leading the walk down and playing a few tunes on the day because they wanted to be part of this great event at no cost, Colin from Maximize Comics for donating his Bell o' The Brae comic for everyone who attended, the children of Blairdardie School who won the competition for their poem to be inscribed on the monument, Dr Fiona Watson, Alan Bissett, Charlie Robertson and Bill and Val Pollock for judging the competition and last but not least George Boyle and the late Duncan Fenton for keeping the good fight going. To EVERYONE who contributed to the crowd funder which raised almost 4000 pounds, to Clan Wallace for their contribution of $3720, Kimberley Ross's contribution from her Dad's fund - I cannot thank you enough because without your generosity we could not have built this monument. Just remember, each of you are all part of this monument.

The submitted design for the monument
The day started for me about 2am and every hour after that looking out the window to check on the weather as the forecast was not good, and a wee prayer to Davie and Duncan to get their finger oot regarding the weather. It worked as I knew the two of them would not let us down and it stayed dry. Got to the Necropolis and was a nervous wreck, 'Would people turn up?', 'What would they think of the monument?' - stupid really, as I knew it all would be fine.

The bridge started to fill up with crowds, Clann An Drumma were there, as was Ted Christopher, and it was getting close to the march to unveil the monument. Still cannae believe I walked passed Roddy the sculptor as I didn't recognise him with his 3 piece suit on, he looked the part as a male model for Slaters, I had only ever seen him in his working gear so not my fault really lol. Time to go, Clann An Drumma piped us down which sounded amazing and the crowd numbers did not let us down and we arrived at the monument which was cleverly draped in a Saltire for the unveiling - thanks George Kempik for this. I started off the speeches, then George Boyle gave a cracking history lesson regarding the battle itself. I introduced the poetry competition winners from Blairdardie school who then laid flowers at the monument. Sandra White gave an outstanding speech and then the moment we had all been waiting for.

Sandra and Kimberley Ross unveiled the monument to massive cheers. Ted Christopher finished off the event with some songs and then we headed off to the university club that we had booked for a few beers and an afternoon of listening to the out-standing Ted "better than Elvis". The drinks flowed that afternoon I can tell you. Joy we had finally done it, relief that all had gone well on the day with crowd numbers, and sadness that Davie and Duncan were not there to see it. I had promised Duncan when he was in hospital that I would make sure the monument would be built. I am just so pleased I kept my promise to my friend. To everyone who goes to the Monument I hope you love it as much as we do.

Gary Stewart
Discussions at the Necropolis
The march down to the monument
The monument waits to be unveiled
David junior admires the monument
The monument
Andrew's paintings
Andrew Hillhouse beside his masterpiece
The Glasgow Necropolis is a Victorian cemetery in Glasgow built on a low but very prominent hill to the east of Glasgow Cathedral. Fifty thousand individuals are buried here but only about 3500 monuments stand on the site. A statue of John Knox sits on a column at the top of the hill and other tombs, crypts and architectural features, designed by the likes of Alexander Thomson, John Bryce and David Hamilton pack the hillside. The main entrance is approached by a bridge over what was originally the Molendinar Burn. This bridge became known locally as the "Bridge of Sighs" because it was part of the route of funeral processions. The Glasgow Necropolis has been described as "literally a city of the dead".

In 2016, a two metre tall sandstone monument that I designed for the Society of William Wallace was installed commemorating William Wallace's skirmish with English troops occupying the nearby Glasgow Castle. According to an enduring tradition, this fight, which became known as "The Battle of the Bell o' the Brae", occurred in July 1297 and resulted in Wallace's small force routing 1000 soldiers of the castle's garrison. In the paintings above, Wallace's spirit stands by the monument, recognised at last. It is Glasgow's first ever statue to Wallace, a fact I am immensely proud of. Congratulations to all at the Society of William Wallace for not giving up on this project and a huge thank you to the two sculptors, Roddy and Chris, whose talent, skill and commitment brought the idea to life. Amazing work, guys. To buy prints or simply to see more of my paintings, please visit Thank you.

Andy Hillhouse

Andy with Roddy and Chris
When we first heard about the commission we thought it was too good to be true. Most of our work comes in through restoration projects so to work on something that meant so much to us and the people of Scotland was a great feeling. It was not all plain sailing though, there were a few hurdles ahead of us, turning the stone (manually because it was to heavy for our equipment), making the lettering fit and having it all complete in the time we had. When we showed up to see it unveiled there were crowds of people and music echoing round the Necropolis. We were the two proudest people in Scotland.
Roddy McDowall
The poem competition winners

Time and weather have their effects on stone. Five and a half years after the monument's unveiling, it was looking a little jaded, so we decided that it needed a good clean. Dave Carney, a member of the Society, volunteered his services - and below you can see the result of his work. The upper pictures are before his labours, and the lower ones show the improvement. Thanks to his efforts, it now looks as good as the day it was first raised, and plans are afoot to have an information board mounted near the railings so that people passing by can recognise what the monument represents.

The Monument before and after cleaning

Thanks are also due to Glasgow Council for the erection of a sign adjacent to the bridge, showing where the monument can be found.

The new sign erected by the Council

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The Society of William Wallace is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation Registration number SC045959