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The Battle of Bannockburn

BANNOCKBURN

BLOODY. BRUTAL. BANNOCKBURN.

In 1314 history was made and the fate of the Scottish nation changed forever

This weekend marks the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn (June 23–24, 1314) – a momentous battle in Scottish history where the Scots regained their independence and led by Robert the Bruce they defeated the English and Bruce was named the King of Scotland.

By the time the battle took place, the Scots had managed to clear the country of all English troops with the exception of Stirling Castle, which had been promised to be surrendered if not relieved by June 24. To meet the large army that Edward II of England had collected for battle, Robert the Bruce had assembled his smaller force a mile or two south of Stirling, where they could keep hidden from English Cavalry until they were ready to attack.

The Scottish army that consisted mostly of pikemen, was outnumbered by almost three times by English foot soldiers and cavalry; but with their great knowledge and understanding of the terrain they were able to overcome this and take out the larger forces of the opposition.

Vast numbers of the English army ended up confined in a small, boggy area between the River Forth and the burn (Bannock Burn) on the opposite side. Due to this they did not have enough room for their men to fight so Bruce took advantage of the enemy’s confusion and confinement and attacked.

The final fling came when the defeated English army was finally put to flight by a charge of about 2,000 Scottish men who charged from Gillies Hill, which overlooked the battlefield. The succeeding massacre was huge and many of the English men who managed to survive the battle were left for dead and perished in the Bannock Burn. Edward II managed to escape the battle and ran away to Dunbar before fleeing the country back to England.

It is impossible to gage the exact numbers that were betrothed in this battle, but it is said that the English probably fought with 3,000 horsemen and 20,000 on foot, the Scots perhaps only 7,000 or even as few as 5,000.

The numbers of the English killed and held as prisoners included the earls of Hereford and Gloucester, more than 60 barons and bannerets along with many scores of knights. The Scottish army claimed to have lost numerous pikemen but only two knights. The English were shocked by the deafeat of the Scots and began to adopt their tactic of fighting on foot. The Scottish regard the Battle of Bannockburn the culmination of their War of Independence.