HOLLYWOOD played a prime role in Scotland's independence movement, according to a new book based on hundreds of thousands of people's reactions to the film Braveheart.

Scottish author Lin Anderson, who started the MacBraveHeart website with her husband John in 1995 as Mel Gibson's film was released, has collated a decade of web responses to the retelling of the story of William Wallace.

In her new book Braveheart:

From Hollywood To Holyrood, she argues that the film which brought a once-obscure Scots freedom-fighter to global attention swelled a tide of opinion which led to the 1997 vote for a new Scottish parliament.

The book, which Anderson said has been written with "the blessing" of the Braveheart screenplay writer Randall Wallace, includes extracts from his original script as well as quotations from his speeches at a Braveheart convention in 1997.

It will be launched next month, with a special debate at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, supported by the Scottish Executive and including a presentation from culture and tourism minister Patricia Ferguson.

Anderson, who has written the book in the run-up to the 700th anniversary of Wallace's death on August 23, said the film's impact was extraordinary.

"Without a doubt, Braveheart contributed to the political movement within Scotland, although I am not saying devolution would not have happened without it, " she said.

"But it gave an international perspective on Scotland, which gave people confidence.

It has become part of the fabric of Scotland. There was anger that people didn't know who William Wallace was, and had been cheated of their history.

"But whether it is myth or reality, it created an aspirational national hero at a time when we needed heroes."

Although the historical accuracy of the film was disputed at the time, Anderson investigates the script's basis, and a 15th-century epic poem by Blind Harry.

Wallace, the son of a Scottish knight, led revolts against the taxes and conscription imposed by England's King Edward I after Scotland had been conquered in 1296. After winning the Battle of Stirling Bridge against English forces, he became a Guardian of Scotland then went to France to plead its cause with King Philip IV.

On his return, he was declared an outlaw, betrayed and captured at Robroyston, Glasgow, on August 3, 1305.

Taken to London and given a mock trial, he was hung, drawn and quartered, and his body sent to hang in the four parts of the kingdom.

When Gibson told his story on film, Anderson argues that he helped revive one of Scotland's most powerful icons. At the opening of the Scottish parliament in 1999, TV coverage began and ended with James Horner's music for the film.

In the book, she claims:

"Braveheart impacted on Scotland and the world with a force as mysterious and contentious as Wallace himself.

For Scots it reminded them of what they once were, what they are now and what they yet might be. To the world it gave back the hero, once upheld as the first freedom-fighter."

Gavin MacDougall, director of Luath Press and publisher of the book, said: "Braveheart struck chords with people around the world. It deals with universal themes which are as relevant today as they were 10 or 700 years ago. Historians in the future will no doubt argue its influence on the outcome of Scotland's devolution referendum of 1997."

The Edinburgh International Book Festival debate, Wallace:

The Man And The Myth, is on August 17 at 6.30pm.


ONE Scots author and William Wallace expert is taking drastic steps to mark the 700th anniversary of his hero's death.

David R Ross is planning to walk from Glasgow to London in 20 days following the footsteps of the man he believes was a martyr and who was forced to stumble to the English capital to be executed.

Ross, who will walk up to 450 miles from Robroyston to a reception in London, aims to follow the A-roads that mark the ancient paths on which Wallace probably travelled. He will set off on Wednesday, with a send-off from Glasgow's deputy provost Christine Devine, and will walk around 25 miles a day to reach his destination on August 23, the date Wallace was executed.

"He's our national hero, " said Ross. "It might have taken us 700 years to mark his funeral, but we didn't forget and he is in our hearts and souls. I'm going to give this walk my best shot to raise the profile of that day.

"Wallace's popularity comes in waves, but when Braveheart came out in 1995, an upsurge was inevitable. In 1997 we had the "Yes" vote to devolution, and I think that film made Scots re-examine their situation: he was fighting against London, and we're still ruled from Westminster. That votewas also taken 700 years after Wallace's biggest victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge."

The William Wallace Society is holding a commemoration next Sunday at the memorial at Robroyston which marks the site where Wallace was captured.

senay. boztas@sundayherald. com

www. edbookfest. co. uk

www. luath. co. uk

www. macbraveheart. co. uk