|Being Scottish we’ve all heard the phrase from Braveheart “and they fought like warrior poets”, but unlike Wallace, who fought and died by the sword, David was that mystical warrior poet mounted on his Harley motorcycle rather than a trusty steed so much so that he was known as the “Biker Historian”.
Most of Scotland’s favourite sons fought with claymore, axe and sword, David did it with pen and paper. Is the pen mightier than the sword? In modern times it would seem most definitely and David was our mightiest and most skilled of warrior poets and we should treat him with the same reverence as the heroes of our past without question.
David was a very accomplished author and historian with many books and TV credits to his name but he didn’t put pen to paper until after attending a lecture by Dr Elspeth King, who suggested that someone should write a book listing where Scotland’s Wallace-related sites were. Never one to shirk a challenge David tells us: “I was sitting in the audience thinking, ‘I could do that!’ He began work on “On the trail Of William Wallace” the very next day and when it was published it burst into the top ten best sellers in it’s first week & so began David’s life as an author. He went on to release a further eight books “On the trail of Robert the Bruce”, “On the trail of Bonnie Prince Charlie” and “For Freedom: to name but a few.
David will probably be best remembered for his "Walk for Wallace” in 2005 to commemorate the 700th anniversary of Wallace’s capture and judicial murder. He recreated that shameful journey, walking four hundred and fifty miles from Robroyston in Glasgow down to London between the 3rd and 22nd of August 2005 to bring Wallace’s spirit back home to Scotland.
Anyone who was lucky enough to attend the event inside St. Bartholomew's will never forget it, and for those who didn’t, the DVD gives a very intimate record of events.
David had a wide range of jobs and one of them was as an aspiring guitar hero with his band M74. Fame beckoned when they became the first band to play the SECC in Glasgow, but alas it was not to be and David hung up his guitar and picked up his pen, it would seem music’s loss was Scotland’s gain although having heard him play I can assure you he was almost as good with the guitar as he was with his pen!!
One of David’s greatest strengths was public speaking and even if you didn’t have a particular interest in history, David had such a great way of talking to an audience and would bring his subject matter to life as he painted wonderful pictures inside your head with his words. It wasn’t only Scotland that listened; David had a huge audience, especially America, that just couldn’t get enough of his story telling. The fact that these story’s were in fact true made them all the more compelling.
Whether it was Bannockburn, Culloden, a school visit, the local historical group or a University in America, David spread the word with so much enthusiasm and passion for his subject that you couldn’t fail to be taken along for the ride as he waxed lyrical about Scotland’s past, and its future!!
David fought a number of causes dear to his heart not least Scotland’s independence and the return of Wallace’s letter of safe conduct which was taken at Robroyston. The St Andrews Day Rally in Edinburgh was another and the upkeep of several monuments dedicated to Wallace’s memory to name just some of the causes he championed.
He was also a member of many societies and organisations and worked tirelessly for them all. He was very proud to be elected Convenor of the Society of William Wallace in Elderslie and was also an honorary member of Crann Tara and a very prominent member of countless other society’s and organisations all over the world.
David hated to turn anyone down and would help anyone or anything with a Scottish angle if he possibly could. He wasn’t just big in stature,( at 6’ 5” he had a heart as big as his hands); he was an inspiration to all those around him.
For those who knew him we will never forget him, for those who called him a friend we will never replace him but we shall forever carry in our hearts and minds the passion that David inspired in all of us for our beloved homeland.
They say that every man dies but not every man really lives, well David packed enough into his way too short a life to last two lifetimes!! His legacy will be his books, written with such enthusiasm and passion for his beloved country that our future generations cannot fail to be inspired by David’s unique way of telling Scotland’s story.
We will all miss him terribly but perhaps it’s his country that will miss him most of all!!
David told me just before he died that he wanted Scots to do something like the Americans did when they see their flag, not an oath of allegiance as such, more a case of paying homage to where we came from:
I stand before this flag. The white Saltire of St Andrew in the blue summers’ sky.
It represents the soil from which I sprang, and to which, one day, I must return.
It represents Scotland.
As it was. As it is. As it always will be.
When will we see yer likes again my friend!!
Back to Top
© Paisley Tartan Army 2008-09