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Tales of King Robert the Bruce
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King Robert the Bruce of Scotland


Bruce Statue at Bannockburn

Battle of Bannockburn

Bannockburn Combat

 


Bannockburn - Scotland's Greatest Battle!

Bruce Monument Bannockburn Battlefield Stirling Scotland

Date - 23rd and 24th June 1314
Combatants - King Robert the Bruce of Scotland .v. King Edward II of England
Setting - Bannockburn, outside Stirling, Scotland

This decisive battle was fought in on the 23rd and 24th of June, 1314, between the Scots, headed by King Robert the Bruce, and the English, headed by their King Edward II (Longshanks son). The English were soundly defeated and Edward barely escaped capture. The film Braveheart gave the impression that the Scots only decided to fight instead of agreeing to humiliating English terms, at the last moment. This is not the case. On the contrary, Bruce challenged the English to meet him by mid-Summersday 1314, or Stirling castle (the last castle in Scotland still to be garrisoned by English troops) would be taken. The English marched north, in an attempt to save the castle, and the rest follows:

Before the Battle, Bruce spent two months training his army. He wanted to make sure his forces were mobile, since immobility had proved the undoing of the Scottish army under Wallace at Falkirk. He organised his horsemen into a light cavalry of about 500 (who faced the 2000 heavily armoured English cavalry). There were 4 Scottish Divisions of foot soldiers, and a few archers from Ettrick Forest. It is claimed that the Camerons, Campbells, Chisholms, Frasers, Gordons, Grants, Gunns, Mackays, Mackintoshes, Macphersons, Macquarries, Macleans, MacDonalds, MacFarlanes, MacGregors, MacKenzies, Menzies, Munros, Robertsons, Ross, Sinclairs, and Sutherlands were there.

They were determined as patriots to defend the Independence of Scotland under Bruce's great leadership. The fact that the Scottish nobles, knights, landowners and tenant farmers fought on foot together with their men made for a more cohesive force than the English army which was less democratic. Most of the English leaders were in the cavalry, leaving the infantry at a disadvantage. Bruce prepared the battle field by digging rows of camouflaged pits and laying calthrops to maim the cavalry horses.

On the 23rd June, lightly armed Scots numbering 7,000 faced an English army of 20,0000. The battle began. Bruce's army were drawn up in mighty 'shilterns' (like in Braveheart), to stop the cavalry charging at the undefended troops. The day passed without any real gains on either side. Bruce began to realise that he could lose this battle.

However, Bruce's luck did not desert him. During the night, the English changed their position, and Bruce, seeing this in amazement, realised at once that he had what he needed - a major tactical blunder. No one knows why Edward had moved his mighty force into a confined area of marshland, but Bruce exploited the error to the full. both armies fought magnificently all that second day, but it ended at last in a bloody and disastrous rout of the English. Eventually, it turned into a massacre, as the fleeing English were cut down defenceless. Edward was lucky to escape.

This battle is often viewed as the 'be-all-and-end-all' of the Scottish Wars of Independence. It wasn't, it took another 15 years until the English finally recognised Scottish Independence by form of the Treaty of Northumberland 1328. However, this battle was a substantial victory for Scotland, and it showed the English invaders that Scotland would not be dominated.

If you would like to visit this area as part of a highly personalized small group tour of my native Scotland please e-mail me:

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