Victory at Bannockburn

Robert Bruce now looked to evict the English officials and garrisons in the Lowlands.

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

Meanwhile, his brother Edward Bruce besieged the English forces holding Stirling Castle. The English commander agreed that, if Edward II had not sent an army to to save them by midsummer, 1314, he would surrender the castle.

The first day of battle

By June 1314, an English force led by Edward II had arrived just south of Stirling. Bruce’s forces had arrived before them and had chosen a better position.

On 23 June 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 sidestepped by Bruce. Bruce hit him on the back of the head with a battle axe, killing him instantly. The rest of Bruce's men forced Hereford back to the English camp.

Meanwhile, the Earl of Moray fought back the rest of the advancing English forces. In response to the day's fighting, that evening Edward II moved his army closer to the banks of the Bannock-burn.

This proved a poor decision. The English camp endured a sleepless night on the marshy ground.

The slideshow below shows the position of both armies on the two days of the battle.

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

The second day of battle

The next morning, on 24 June, 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. They continued to struggle on the marshy ground. The Scots slowly pushed them back.

The English archers could not find an effective position to inflict damage on the Scots. The Scottish cavalry charged them, driving them from the field. Edward II watched as a final push from hardened Scottish soldiers charged the disorganised English.

The Scottish schiltrons broke through the English line. More Scottish forces, including Bruce's camp followers known as the 'small folk', came down from the Coxet Hill to help.

Edward II and his army were forced to retreat and flee. Edward managed to make it to Dunbar, where he arranged safe transport to England.