A reference to the popular Scottish hero of the early 1300’s being in Blantyre is made in a Victorian account. I have illustrated this article with a photoshopped picture, depicting how I think the scene may have looked. The tale, (which is very much an unproven myth) is described as follows:
“Tradition says that a vaulted passage under the Clyde formerly existed between the Priory and the Castle of Bothwell; and Miss Jane Porter, in the Scottish Chiefs, has taken advantage of this alleged subaqueous way to heighten the dramatic effect of her story, the scene of which—as most novel readers are doubtless aware—is partly laid here. On our first visit to the Priory—a goodly number of years since—our guide, a school-boy from the adjacent village, told us that according to a winter evening tale current in the neighbourhood, the popular hero, Wallace, in a season of difficulty once found shelter from his foes among the cowled inmates of this establishment.
By some means or other the usurping Southrons learning where their terrible opponent was concealed, a large party of them at the dead hour of night determined to secure him and earn the handsome reward offered for his apprehension. To effect this they surrounded the building, with the exception of that portion overhanging the precipice, which from its altitude they considered perfectly secure. While they were thundering at the portal, however, and demanding the surrender of the Knight of Ellerslie, that doughty chief, nothing daunted, flipped out by one of the windows, leaped at once over the rock, and fording the Clyde, made his escape undiscovered.
As a convincing proof of the truthfulness of the legend, we were then taken to see an indentation in the solid rock below, which bore some resemblance to a gigantic footmark, and which we were seriously informed had been caused by the foot of Wallace on that eventful evening. A fine spring issues from the ground at this spot, the waters of which flow into the sacred footprint; and we need hardly say that it was with a deep feeling of reverence for “Scotia’s ill-requited chief” that, on the occasion alluded to, we knelt down and took a hearty draught from the alleged pedal mark.
Our faith, we are sorry to say, is not now quite so strong. On our present visit we scarcely discern the resemblance to a footprint which was formerly so obvious; and although we dip our beard in the gratefully cold and crystalline water, the delicious awe which we experienced then comes not again over our spirit.”