Celebrating the first women in the Hall of Heroes

The achievements of two outstanding Scots are being celebrated at the National Wallace Monument has re-opened its doors to visitors following a £1m refurbishment to mark its 150th anniversary year.

Last year, there was a £1million investment which saw a complete revamp of the exhibition galleries within the famous landmark.

As part of the project, managed by Stirling District Tourism – the charity which manages and operates the Monument as a visitor attraction – two women were incorporated to the Monument’s famous Hall of Heroes.

Visitors are able to see the sculptures of Maggie Keswick Jencks and Mary Slessor (read her full story HERE) , created by Graciela Ainsworth and Csilla Karsay respectively, the first heroines to be recognised in the gallery.

The Scotland’s Heroines project aims to recognise the achievements of Scottish women and their contributions to the country’s history. The campaign, launched in 2017, asked the public to vote on which remarkable Scottish women should be introduced to the Hall of Heroes to join the likes of Robert Burns, James Watt, Adam Smith and Sir Walter Scott, amongst others.

The thousands of votes cast online across the world and at the Monument resulted in the missionary Mary Slessor and Maggie Keswick Jencks, co-founder of the Maggie’s Centres, being selected to join the gallery alongside the existing sixteen busts of famous men from Scotland’s history.

Having researched the lives of both Maggie and Mary, the sculptors, Graciela Ainsworth and Csilla Karsay, sought to create busts that depicted their character, passion and commitment.

Zillah Jamieson, chair of Stirling District Tourism, said: ‘We are so pleased to be able to recognise the first women of the Scotland’s Heroines project, and to see these busts unveiled.

‘Mary Slessor and Maggie Keswick Jencks both made fantastic contributions to Scotland, as so many women have done throughout this country’s history. Both women exhibited selflessness and personal commitment to social improvement, and through their efforts to help others they achieved worldwide recognition. It is only right that their sculptures should be on display at the National Wallace Monument.’


Maggie’s chief executive Laura Lee said: ”We are all incredibly proud that Maggie is one of the first women to be commemorated in The Hall of Heroes and with a sculpture that captures her spirit beautifully.

‘It is a wonderful way to remember an inspirational woman and I hope everyone who sees the bust also pauses to think about the thousands of people with cancer, as well as family and friends, that have found support, at what is possibly the hardest time of their lives, thanks to her vision of a different type of cancer care.’

Douglas Binnie, from the Mary Slessor Foundation, added: ‘The Trustees of the Mary Slessor Foundation very much welcome the opportunity to be involved with the unveiling of a sculpted bust of Mary Slessor to be located in the Hall of Heroes. Mary Slessor was a weaver, a teacher, a magistrate a missionary and, above all, a humanitarian who staunchly defended the rights of children and women in incredibly difficult circumstances.

‘In her work as a missionary in the Calabar region of Nigeria, she demonstrated a rare ability to combine steely resolve and uncompromising strength with deep compassion and remarkable selflessness. She was both unconventional and inspirational and it is a fitting tribute that her courage and heroism have been formally recognised in this way. We would like to heartily applaud the efforts of all who have contributed to the process. If Mary Slessor was alive today, she would have wondered what all the fuss was about….’

As well as Maggie and Mary, visitors can read more about other incredible Scotswomen who were considered for inclusion as busts.

Find out more by visiting www.nationalwallacemonument.com.