it comes to the fight
Let each man set his heart will and strength
To humble our foes great pride.
They will come arrayed on horse
And advance on you at no small speed;
Meet them with spears boldly,
And think then of the great ill
That they and theirs have done to us
And are still determined to do.
Bruces advice to his troops before Bannockburn
in John Barbours epic poem The Bruce c.1377.
From modern translation by A.A.M.Duncan.
If there is a fact every Scot knows, it is
who won the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314;
although it did not bring outright victory
in the war, which lay 14 years in the future
and would only be won at the negotiating table.
was a combination of Bruces demand of 1313: that all of
the remaining Balliol supporters acknowledge his kingship or
forfeit their estates, and the imminent surrender of the English
garrison encircled in Stirling castle - which spurred Edward
II to invade Scotland. He mobilised a massive military machine:
summoning 2,000 horse and 25,000 infantry from England, Ireland
and Wales. Although probably only half the infantry turned up,
it was by far the largest English army ever to invade Scotland.
Scots common army numbered around 6000, with
a small contingent on horseback. It was divided
into three divisions or schiltroms
(massive spear formations), led by King Robert
Bruce, his brother, Edward, and his nephew,
Sir Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray. After
eight years of successful guerrilla warfare
and plundering the north of England for booty,
the Scots had created an experienced battle-hardened
June 1314, Edward II crossed the border only
to find the road to Stirling blocked by the
Scots army. Bruce had carefully chosen his
ground to the south of the castle, where the
road ran through the New Park, a royal hunting
park. To his east lay the natural obstacles
of the Bannock and Pelstream burns, along
with soft, boggy ground. It seems Bruce planned
only to risk a defensive encounter, digging
pots (small hidden pits designed to break
up a cavalry charge) along the roadway, and
keeping the Torwood behind him for easier
First Day, Sunday 23rd June, 1314
The battle opened with one of the most celebrated
individual contests in Scottish history. Sighting
a group of Scots withdrawing into the wood, the
English vanguard, made up of heavy cavalry, charged.
As they clashed with the Scots, an English knight,
Sir Henry de Bohun, spotted Robert Bruce. If de
Bohun had killed or captured Bruce, he would have
become a chivalric hero. So, spurring his warhorse
to the charge, he lowered his lance and bared
down on the king. Bruce, an experienced warrior,
didnt panic, but mounted ane palfray,
litil and joly and met the charge. Dodging
the lance, he brought his battle axe down on de
Bohuns helmet, striking him dead. Elated,
the Scots forced the English cavalry to withdraw.
of Edwards experienced commanders, Sir
Henry Beaumont and Sir Robert Clifford, attempted
to outflank the Scots and cut off their escape
route - very nearly surprising the Scots.
At the last moment, however, Thomas Randolphs
schiltrom dashed out of the wood and caught
the English cavalry by surprise. A ferocious
melee ensued. Without archers the cavalry
found they were unable to get through the
dense thicket of Scots spearmen, even resorting
to throwing their swords and maces at them,
until the Scots pushed them back and forced
them into flight.
BBC is not responsible for the content
of external Web sites.