The Battle of Bannockburn
Scotland’s history is rife with conflict as battles over land, religion and politics have left their mark all over the country. Most famous of all is the Battle of Bannockburn. Well, we won this one so of course we’d say that! 2014 is the 700th anniversary of the battle and the area has been given an impressive lift with the opening of a new visitor centre that is sure to become one of central Scotland’s leading attractions.
Here’s a super quick run-through of this epic 1314 standoff.
Scotland vs England. King Robert the Bruce vs King Edward II. Years of preceding to-ing and fro-ing as both sides took heavy losses over numerous battles. Treachery as some Scottish nobles sided with England. Division in Scotland over who should be leader – Robert the Bruce or the Balliols. Robert had been king since 1306 but both had significant support amongst the Scots.
The Scots met the English at Bannockburn – on the outskirts of Stirling – and were outnumbered at best 2:1. The Scots faced an impressive 20 000 strong, better-equipped English army. The battle lasted two days and the land itself proved decisive. The English army, particularly the heavy cavalry, were hindered by the soft and boggy ground. The Bruce’s strategy and knowledge of the land saw the English hordes retreat with many desperately drowing in the River Forth.
Exact figures are not known but losses were well over 10 000 for England and very few for the Scots. The catastrophic defeat for the English sent them reeling back south. Scottish military control over their own country was also cemented. Although independence was not yet sealed the Battle of Bannockburn will forever be remembered as the pivotal moment in the Indepence Wars. It also cemented Robert’s position as undisputed leader of Scotland and a legendary figure to this day.
As for the new visitor centre it makes excellent use of 3D technology to bring an interactive and informative experience. An excellent tone is set throughout that even brings a little humour to what really was a grim time for all sides. The main room places you in a panorama, surrounded on all sides by 3D soldiers doing what they do best. Explanations of the role of each soldier and other contributors to the battle are discussed. The step-by-step of the Battle of Bannockburn follows under the guidance of well-informed staff. The strategic layout of the forces is analysed and the full story of the battle is revealed. There is also the option to play the Battle Game that allows participants to re-create the fight and test their own strategic mettle! Although only a short experience (60-90 minutes), it’s a great day out for the whole family.
The battlefield itself does not retain the sombre atmosphere of other sites but the bold statue of Robert is very much worth seeing. Directly behind the visitor centre, the Rotunda and the statue are overlooked by the distant Stirling Castle.
Right, off to watch Braveheart.
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