In the heart of Scotland, Stirling and its castle held essential strategic importance. Those who controlled Stirling were able to control movement between the north and south of the kingdom.
On 11 September 1297, the force commanded by William Wallace and Andrew Moray faced a strong English army on the outskirts of the town.
Wallace and Moray saw themselves as 'Commanders of the Army of Scotland'. They moved to strike a decisive blow against English occupation.
They took up position on Abbey Craig Hill, facing the Castle. This was a strong position as it provided an excellent vantage point for directing the battle.
The Earl of Surrey, Edward I's lieutenant in Scotland, led the English army with the support of the Treasurer of Scotland, Hugh de Cressingham.
Neither man saw Wallace or Moray as a threat and expected to crush the rebel Scots. However, Cressingham did not possess the military expertise to hold authority in such an important battle.
Cressingham was an extremely unpopular figure amongst the Scots and his presence undoubtedly antagonised the men of Wallace and Moray.
The Earl of Surrey's attitude at Stirling may also have contributed to English defeat. For example: