A group of respected historians and archivists is to take a closer look at a letter widely believed to have been in the possession of Sir William Wallace.
Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop has asked the Keeper of the National Archives of Scotland to assemble a group of experts that would be best-placed to establish exactly where and why the letter was produced.
The medieval history experts – from Scotland, England and France – will investigate the 700 year old document, held at The National Archives in London, and produce a report to Scottish and UK Government Ministers that will then allow discussions on the status of the document.
The National Archives of Scotland has uploaded a high-resolution image of the document to its website to allow people to make up their own minds about the letter. A seminar on the document will be held in Edinburgh in Spring 2011.
Ms Hyslop said:
“There has always been tremendous interest in this letter and repeated claims that it should rightfully reside in Scotland’s National Archives. It is right that we revisit such a case and I am delighted that such a distinguished group will be reviewing the evidence.
“The wonders of modern technology will allow people interested in this important document to follow the progress of the research group online and to make up their own minds on the letter by zooming in on the document in minute detail.
“I look forward to hearing the group’s findings, which will no doubt be keenly anticipated by those interested in this document, in William Wallace and in this important part of Scotland’s history.”
George MacKenzie, Keeper of the Records of Scotland, said:
“It is remarkable how a 700 year old document still stirs such emotion today. This letter is still a mystery, but I hope that working with our colleagues at The National Archives in London, and with the help of these distinguished historians and archivists, we can begin to solve that mystery.”
Oliver Morley, Chief Executive of The National Archives, said:
“The National Archives welcomes the opportunity for academic discussion on this subject and looks forward to concluding on the purpose and origin of this valuable and historic document.”
The research group will meet for the first time in August at The National Archives in London. The group will report to UK and Scottish Ministers in Spring 2011.