Fifteen miles west of Edinburgh lies Almondell and Calderwood Country. Open all year around and free to visit, this spacious green wilderness area covers 220 acres of woodland and riverside walks. It is here that you will find not one, but two rather unusual carved rock slabs dating from the 18th century.
The first is much easier to locate and can be found downstream from the Almondell Bridge on the southern end, following the “Red” walking route. After walking along the river and crossing over a wooden footbridge, you’ll find a stone that reads: MARGARET COUNTESS OF BUCHAN DEDICATED THIS FOREST TO HER ANCESTOR SIR SIMON FRASER OCTOBER XV MDCCLXXXIV
Sir Simon Fraser of Oliver and Neidpath fought alongside both Sir William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. The English captured him in June 1306. Suffering the same fate as Wallace, a year later Fraser was hung, drawn, and quartered. His head was impaled on a spike and displayed next to his comrades on London Bridge.
Almondell and the surrounding environs were once in possession of David Stewart Erskine, the 11th Earl of Buchan, and his wife Margaret Fraser. Erskine, the founder of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, was enthralled with anything to do with the Scottish knight Sir William Wallace. So much so, he erected this memorial to his wife’s descendant, as well as the Wallace Statue near Dryburgh.
The second stone, also funded by Erskine, is located some distance away and can be found along the road leading out of the estate. Hidden among the underbrush, on the right-hand side of the road, a few yards from the Drumshoreland crossroads. This carved tablet may well be the earliest surviving memorial to Wallace in Scotland. The Latin inscription reads: M.S. GUL VALLAS OCTOB XV MDCCLXXXIV
Basically translated: Sacred to the memory of William Wallace October 15, 1784. This is the same year carved into the previous stone. The placement of this stone indicates the area Wallace and his men would have patrolled, keeping an eye on King Edward II and his army, just before the Battle of Falkirk in July 1298.
Know Before You Go
The Simon Fraser stone is located in the Almondell & Calderwood Country Park and is freely accessible to any visitors. The William Wallace stone is located a few feet from the road near the park's north entrance. The Wallace stone is on private land but can be easily seen and photographed from the road. The site can be found on Google maps using the term: "Almondell Wallacestone."