Lanark in 1297
Lanark's importance was first recognised by the Romans who established
a fort on the outskirts of the town, and its remains, and that of a Roman
road, are still in evidence.
Lanark was granted Royal Burgh status in 1140 by David I, and its castle
was also the site of Scotland's first parliament.
The royal castle was comprised of a 'motte,' a fort surrounding an earth
mound and 'Bailey' an enclosed court at the foot of the mound. William
I, 1165-1214, frequently made Lanark Castle his residence.
The castle, at the foot of Castlegate, next to Castlebank Park, dated
from the time of David 1, although it was also believed to have been used
by the Romans. Castlegate was Lanark's most important and imposing street,
leading down to the Royal castle. It was originally of extraordinary width
until the street was divided into two streets in the late 18th century.
The town's associated medieval street pattern remains today.
In Wallace's day it was garrisoned by the English under the Sheriff of
Lanark, Hesselrigg. Holding a strategic position at the head of Clydesdale,
it was one of the most important strongholds of the English army in Scotland,
as it secured the main supply route via Annandale north to Stirling.
Lanark's mercat cross stood at the food of what is now High Street, close
to the site in Castlegate where Wallace lived with his wife Marion. The
house was owned by her family, the Braidfutes, and is today marked by
The couple were believed to have married at Old St Kentigern's Church,
just outside the town boundary. The church ruins still remain. Old St
Kentigerns originally housed the town bell, which dates from 1130, and
can now be found in St Nicholas Parish Church at the foot of High Street.
Recast in 1659 and 1983, it is believed to be the oldest bell in Europe.