'Lang syne, in Scotland's days o' weir, In Buncle wood did Wallace bide; The Wallace Wight, to Scotland dear, Wi' many a stalwart, brave confere, In leafy bower ae night did hide, In Buncle forest wan and sear: The Wallace wight, to Scotland dear, Lay on the moss beneath the tree, Till morning dawn'd on wold and lea; The best o' men in a' time's tide, Was Wallace wight to Scotland dear. In Buncle wood he pass'd the night, The ground is bless'd that he lay on; And time to come will never see A man sae brave as Wallace wight; On man sae good sun never shone; Sae cruelly wrang'd man ne'er could be, O Wallace wight to Scotland dear, For thee oft falls the bitter tear, When I think on thy destiny! At Wallace' name what Scottish blood But boils up in a spring-tide flood? Oft hae our fearless fathers stood By Wallace' side; Still pressing onward red-wat shod, Or glorious died.'
William Wallace (c.1270-1305), the popular hero of the wars of Scottish independence, is thought to have visited the Borders as part of his various campaigns. However, it is entirely likely that this story is no more than a myth. George Henderson (1800-1864) was a collector of local lore and this poem is included in his book, ‘The Popular Rhymes, Sayings and Proverbs of the County of Berwick’ (1856). Henderson, who was a big fan of Wallace and quite possibly the writer of the above verse, writes: ‘… this was about the year 1296. Buncle Wood, which extended over and along the hill now called Buncle Edge, from near the Whitadder on the west, to within a mile of Auchenerow on the east, was nearly four miles in length, and about as much in breadth. It is now ‘weeded all away’, and no one can point out the precise resting place of the ‘good Wallace’ on that eventful night.’
Claims to famous people having visited places and areas are made about many popular Scottish history heroes, including Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie), Mary, Queen of Scots and in this case, William Wallace. Some stories blended myth with reality, or were entirely myth that became reality.
It is not entirely clear where this poem comes from, nor is it entirely clear if it was written by George Henderson himself. Call to action: if anyone has any more information about this poem, please let us know. Dr George Henderson's original publication 'The Popular Rhymes, Sayings and Proverbs of the County of Berwick' (1856) is reproduced in full here: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=G1oUAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false