The Battle of Stirling Bridge

The position and movement of both armies were key factors in the defeat of English forces at Stirling.

The slideshow below shows the positions and movements of the two armies.

Map showing the position of the English and Scottish armies at the Battle of Stirling Bridge.

Map showing the position of the English and Scottish armies at the Battle of Stirling Bridge

The Earl of Surrey decided to use the bridge to cross the river. However, Stirling Bridge was extremely narrow and only allowed a small number of the English to cross at a time.

High on the Abbey Craig, the Scots were able to observe the English army's movements. As a result, they could consider the best time to attack.

Wallace and Moray allowed a significant number of the English force to cross before sending in their own troops. The English were trapped between the Scots army and the river.

The Scots relied on their spearmen. They eventually separated the English cavalry from the rest of the army - still on the other side of the river. Cut off and unable to retreat, huge numbers of English were killed and many drowned.

Hugh de Cressingham was killed - allegedly skinned and cut to pieces by the Scots.

In the chaos that followed the Scots victory, Surrey and his army retreated to the relative safety of Berwick in the borders.

Effects of the victory on Scotland

Following the victory at Stirling Bridge, the Scottish nobility appointed Wallace and Moray as 'Guardians of Scotland'.

They were in control of Scotland, able to make official decisions and to communicate with other kings on Scotland's behalf. They became commanders of the army and had influence over how Scotland would defend itself.

However, it is unclear how Wallace and Moray were viewed by the Scottish nobility. Perhaps they saw Wallace and Moray as a way of achieving independence without risking their own lives. But they may have been fearful of the two men and the support they had gained among the common people.

Moray's time as a Guardian was short lived. Only a matter of weeks after the Battle of Stirling Bridge, he died of wounds he suffered in the fighting.

As Guardian, Wallace continued to rule Scotland in the name of King John. John remained prisoner in the Tower of London. Wallace invaded northern England, besieging castles and towns. He used brutal tactics against local garrisons and communities.

It is difficult for historians to comment with any great accuracy on Wallace's rule after the Battle of Stirling Bridge, as few records survive. However, various correspondence with mainland Europe appears to show Scotland as a country which was confident in expressing its independence from England.

In October 1297 a letter was sent to the merchants of Lubeck and Hamburg in northern Germany, stating that Scotland had ‘recovered from the power of the English’ and inviting them to resume trade.