Preparations for battle at Falkirk

The English advance

In the summer of 1298, Edward I again marched north into Scotland. To avoid a pitched battle, Wallace tried to hide his army from the English. He also destroyed crops and buildings in the south of Scotland so that the English army would have to return home when they needed supplies.

The English army was weakened by Wallace’s ‘scorched earth’ policy - they found food and shelter hard to find. As a result, Edward considered returning to England to reassess the situation. But then he received information that Wallace’s army was near Falkirk.

Wallace’s predicament

Some historians believe that Wallace was compelled to fight at this point. It is unlikely that he would have avoided Edward for so long and razed much of the Lowlands, just to then attack in July.

The army may have been tired of hiding and the victory of the previous year at Stirling would have given them confidence.

Making his troops wait may have compromised their loyalty to Wallace. This could have threatened his Guardianship.

For Wallace to keep control of Scotland, he relied on the support of the common soldiers. Without it, there would be no reason for the nobility to accept him as their ‘superior’.

Neil Oliver describes events leading up to the Battle of Falkirk in the video below.