Novelist Louise Welsh explores meanings, ancient and modern, of the battle of Bannockburn on its 700th anniversary. With contributions from leading historians.
On the eve of the feast of St John the Baptist in the year 1314, the battle of Bannockburn began. 700 years later, Robert Bruce's great victory over Edward II of England is still with us. Ask a medieval historian of the period what Bannockburn achieved and they'll talk about ending the Scottish civil war, forcing those who held lands in both England and Scotland to choose one or the other or saving the Bruce dynasty by allowing Bruce to bargain to get his wife and daughter back from English captivity. Ask any non-historian and they'll most likely tell you that it was the battle that secured Scottish independence. Look down through the ages and you'll find everyone from Stewart court poets to our current Queen (when she unveiled Bruce's statue at Bannockburn in 1964) telling you that it's about freedom. There's a glorious mismatch between historians and history. The battle lives in our imagination - but why and how? Novelist Louise Welsh explores the meaning of Bannockburn - what people fought for on that day in 1314 and why it took on such a life of its own. She's helped on her quest by historians Fiona Watson, Dauvit Broun, Alan Young, Richard Finlay, James Coleman and the National Trust for Scotland Battlefield Visitor Centre Manager Scott McMaster.