William Wallace murdered Haselrigg, the English Sheriff of Lanark at the town’s Castle in May 1297. The reason for this act is the subject of dispute. Regardless of why, this single act set Wallace on the path to his destiny; it brought him the support of much of the population, and galvanised ordinary Scots to rally to his flag.
Lanark’s name comes from its woollen industry (from the Norman French, the modern ‘laine’, meaning wool, is related to it); indeed Edward I’s tax on wool in 1296 (to finance a campaign in Flanders) inflamed local opinion and garnered Wallace much local support. The town had a Greyfriars monastery, founded at the time of Robert the Bruce, it was located between Broomgate and Friars Lane. The site of a house reputed to have belonged to Wallace lies opposite the church of St Nicholas at the west end of the High Street (above the door of which a statue of Wallace was placed in the early 19th Century).
An interesting remnant of the period can be found in the rear of one of the properties in the High Street, from Bernards Wynd a 13th Century gothic window can be seen; this was from a stone-built house, probably owned by the monks of Dryburgh (being the best house in the Town, it is likely that Wallace resided there after his defeat of the English forces at Stirling Bridge). In the grounds of Lanark’s old cemetery are the remains of the original St Kentigern’s Church, the south wall and chancel arch are from Wallace’s time.