Two activists from an environmental group smashed and vandalized a glass case housing the sword of Scottish knight William Wallace at a museum in Stirling, Scotland.
On March 2 around 11:30 a.m., Alexander Cloudley, a food bank coordinator, and Katrielle Chan, a student, entered the National Wallace Monument’s Hall of Arms, and struck the case containing the Wallace sword with mallets, chisels, and two rocks. They then spray-painted the broken glass with the words “This Is Rigged,” the name of their climate activist group.
According to the Stirling Council, which oversees the National Wallace Monument, the sword is currently being assessed for damage. The monument also closed temporarily, but has since reopened.
Cloudley and Chan, both from Glasgow, were arrested on site and charged with vandalism. They have pleaded not guilty. In a statement, Police Scotland said that “inquiries are ongoing.”
View this post on Instagram
This Is Rigged formed in 2022 to protest the Scottish government’s new investments in fossil fuels, demanding that leadership “vocally oppose all new fossil fuel projects in Scotland and create a clear transition plan for oil workers.” Since January 2023, the group has been staging civil resistance protests at the Scottish Parliament’s weekly questions sessions.
In an Instagram post, the group said its targeting of the two-handed sword, believed to have been wielded by Wallace at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 and the Battle of Falkirk in 1298, is tied to the weapon’s symbolic value. “Six hundred years before William Wallace defended our freedom with this very sword,” it wrote. “Now it is time for us to stand up for ourselves.”
Their action also references the suffragettes—in particular British painter Ethel Moorhead, who, in 1912, attacked the case holding the Wallace sword with a stone to demand the right to vote for women. One of the rocks used by This Is Rigged campaigners in last week’s action was inscribed with a message that echoed the note Moorhead wrapped her stone in.
The This Is Rigged rock read in part: “We must once again fight for what is right, no new fossil fuels and a fair transition now.”
This latest action follows the spate of protests late last year that saw environmental groups, most prominently Just Stop Oil, attacking works of art in museums to raise awareness about the climate emergency.
In a joint statement released in November 2022, 92 museum leaders, while holding that cultural institutions should remain sites for “social discourse,” decried such protests as “risky endangerment.” They added: “The activists responsible for them severely underestimate the fragility of these irreplaceable objects, which must be preserved as part of our world cultural heritage.”
More Trending Stories:
A Wall Street Billionaire Shot Himself in His Family Office. His Death Is Reverberating in the Museum World, and the Art Market
Researchers in Vietnam Discovered That Two Deer Antlers Languishing in Museum Storage Are Actually 2,000-Year-Old Musical Instruments
‘That Little Piece of Energy Is Magnified’: Artist Wangechi Mutu on Honoring the Spirit of the Natural World in Her Fantastical Works
We Asked ChatGPT About Art Theory. It Led Us Down a Rabbit Hole So Perplexing We Had to Ask Hal Foster for a Reality Check
‘Innovation Is Not Repetition’: Living Legend Gaetano Pesce on His Boundary-Pushing Furniture Design and ‘Mass-Produced Originals’
Hit Mockumentary ‘Cunk on Earth’ Offers an Absurdly Comic Take on World History. Here Are 5 Things It Gets Right About Art
A Photographer Who Found Instagram Fame for His Striking Portraits Has Confessed His Images Were Actually A.I.-Generated
After Sending ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ Out on Loan, the Mauritshuis Has Hung an A.I. Facsimile in Its Place. Fans Are Not Happy
Archaeologists Believe a Piece of Flotsam That Washed Up on a New York Beach Could be Part of an 1821 Shipwreck