Action at Lanark

The Action at Lanark was an attack at Lanark, Scotland during the First War of Scottish Independence in May 1297. The Scottish William Wallace led an uprising against the English and killed the Sheriff of Lanark, William Heselrig. The attack was not an isolated incident, but rather saw Wallace joining in with uprisings taking place across Scotland.[1]

Action at Lanark
Part of the First War of Scottish Independence
DateMay 1297
Result Scottish victory
 Kingdom of Scotland  Kingdom of England
Commanders and leaders
William Wallace William Heselrig†
unknown unknown
Casualties and losses
unknown but limited unknown

Not much is definitely known about this incident. The best account comes from the Scalacronica by Thomas Grey, whose father, also called Thomas Grey, was present. A fracas broke out at a court being held by Heselrig, but Wallace was able to escape with help from a girl who may have been his wife.[2] He then came back with some supporters and attacked Heselrig and his men, killed Heselrig, nearly killed Thomas Grey senior, and set fire to some houses. Wallace then continued with his rebellion, which culminated in his victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge four months later.

It is unclear what Wallace was doing at Heselrig's court, and whether this was a spontaneous incident or if it was co-ordinated with other risings in Scotland.[2][3]

According to the 15th century poem The Wallace, written by Blind Harry, Wallace carried out the attack in revenge for the killing of his beloved wife by Heselrig.[4][5][6] The identity of Wallace's wife is not known for certain, but her name is believed to be Marion Braidfute. Harry also claims that Wallace dismembered Heselrig's body.

Fictionalised versions of this incident have appeared in various accounts of the Wallace's life, notably in the 1995 film Braveheart, in which his wife was called Murron MacClannough, and her execution preceded the battle.


  1. John Prebble The Lion in the North
  2. Maclean, Fitzroy (2003). Scotland A Concise History. London: Thames & Hudson, LTD. p. 37. ISBN 0-500-28233-1.
  3. Peter Traquair Freedom's Sword
  4. "Wallace: Man and Myth". Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  5. "The Wallace: Introduction | Robbins Library Digital Projects". Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  6. "William Wallace myths busted". Retrieved 19 October 2019.

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