Bruce's victory

Bruce had now defeated his enemies in Scotland and was now strong enough to hold his first official Parliament in St Andrews in March 1309, which launched a propaganda campaign justifying Bruce’s Kingship.

By 1314, Bruce had managed to recapture all of the Scottish castles from the English, apart from Stirling and Berwick. He had also sent small raiding forces over the border to harass English troops and towns.

Meanwhile, Bruce's brother Edward was besieging Stirling Castle. The English commander of the Castle agreed to surrender the castle by midsummer 1314, if Edward II had not sent an English force to save them by then.

The Battle of Bannockburn 23-24 June 1314

By midsummer, the English force, led by King Edward II, had arrived just south of Stirling. Bruce’s forces had arrived first however, and chosen a better position.

Edward II sent two separate scouting parties ahead of his main force. The Earl of Hereford’s party discovered Bruce inspecting his troops. Henry de Bohun, an English knight, charged at the Scottish King directly but was killed by Bruce, with a blow of his axe.

The rest of Bruce's men forced Hereford back to the English camp. The Earl of Moray fought back the second scouting party.

Map showing the position of the English army and the Scottish army on the first day of the Battle of Bannockburn.Map showing the position of the English army and the Scottish army on the first day of the Battle of Bannockburn

In the evening, Edward II moved his army and settled near Bannockburn for the night. The next morning, the smaller Scottish army took up battle formation, facing a disorganised English force. The boggy ground was almost impossible for the English cavalry to move on.

The Scottish army advanced in three separate 'schiltron' formations. The English knights could not counter attack effectively as they continued to struggle on the marshy ground and the Scots slowly pushed them back:

Map showing the position of the English army and the Scottish army on the second day of the Battle of Bannockburn.Map showing the position of the English army and the Scottish army on the second day of the Battle of Bannockburn
  • The English archers could not find an effective position from which to attack the Scots. They were charged by the Scottish cavalry and driven from the field.
  • The Scottish schiltrons broke through the English ranks and more Scottish forces came down from Coxet Hill to help. Edward ll's army was forced to retreat and flee.
  • Edward II narrowly escaped to Dunbar and then to England.