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The Battle of Bannockburn,
23rd-24th June 1314

Bruce and de Bohun by John Duncan

"I have broken my good battle-axe." are the words attributed to King Robert the Bruce as he returned from his fatal encounter with de Bohun on the eve of the main battle by H E Marshall in "Scotland's Story"*.

This was a key opening blow on the 23rd June, the eve of  main battle on the Carse of Stirling  that secured Scotland's recognition as an independent nation. (Earlier the attempt to send a relief force to the English Garrison at Stirling had been defeated by the Scots). The rest of the day saw a series of small skirmishes as the opposing forces started to assess each others strengths and weaknesses.

Edward II, seeking to emulate his father's success in Scotland had led a great army into Scotland to punish the Scots for their defeats of the English Garrisons at Edinburgh and Roxburgh Castles. His force by various accounts amounted to 25,000-40,000 against the Scots of 9,000-13,000.  It included 2,500 heavy cavalry, 2,000 Welsh longbowmen and 500 light cavalry.

The main battle took place on 24th June.  King Robert had chosen the ground well, positioning his force between two woods that protected his flanks, with the boggy ground and the burn to his front.  His main force was set out in schiltrons, tight groups of infantry with long spears.  This was a tactic first developed by William Wallace, but the difference brought in by the Bruce was that they were mobile, fatal hedgehogs of men that would break up the English attacks.

Despite the advantages of ground and tactics, the day wore on, and the English only gave up when "a third force" appeared. The commonly held view was this was the body of camp followers of the Scots Army, the wives, children and servants who supported the Army. 






*1968 Revised edition of "Scotland's Story" by H E Marshall, (first published 1906) Thomas Nelson (Printers) Ltd, London and Edinburgh