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Battle of bannockburn Area Today

A map of the area around the battle positions

Battle of bannockburn summary

The Battle of Bannockburn (Blàr Allt a' Bhonnaich in Scottish Gaelic) (24 June 1314) was a significant Scottish victory in the Wars of Scottish Independence. It was one of the most decisive battles of the First War of Scottish Independence, and remains one of the iconic cornerstones in the history of Scotland. Around Lent of 1314, Edward Bruce, brother of the Scottish King, began the siege of Stirling Castle, which was commanded by Sir Philip Mowbray. Unable to make any headway, Bruce agreed to a pact with Mowbray—if no relief came by midsummer 1314, the castle would surrender to Bruce. It was now two years since an English army had come to Scotland, and King Edward II of England had recently been on the verge of war with his barons after the murder of Piers Gaveston in the summer of 1312. Edward came to Scotland in the high summer of 1314 with the preliminary aim of relieving Stirling Castle: the real purpose, of course, was to find and destroy the Scottish army in the field, and thus end the war.

  1. The king’s advanced guard, commanded by Lord de Clifford, began to make a circuit of the wood to prevent the Scots escaping by flight
  2. King Robert was persuaded to remain by news of the poor state of morale in the English army.But undoubtedly the most important factor in persuading him to make a stand was the ground before him. With the trees of the New Park covering Bruce's army to the west, the only approach apart from the Pows to the east was directly over the old road from Falkirk. If this route, virtually the only solid ground on which heavy cavalry could be effectively deployed, were to be denied to the English, they would have no choice but to wheel right to the north-east, on to the Carse (an area which is wet in winter, but hard in summer)
  3. The vanguard under the earls of Gloucester and Hereford , appointed to joint command by Edward after a quarrel about who would take the lead – a compromise that satisfied no one – were already closing in on the Scots from the south, advancing in the same reckless manner that had almost brought disaster at Falkirk
  4. After some fierce fighting, in which the Earl of Gloucester was knocked off his horse, the knights of the vanguard were forced to retreat to the Tor Wood
  5. The Scots, eager to pursue, were held back by the command of the king
  6. In the meantime, another English cavalry force under Robert Clifford and Henry de Beaumont skirted the Scottish position to the east and rode towards Stirling, advancing as far as St. Ninians
  7. Bruce spotted the manoeuvre and ordered Randolph's schiltron to intercept
  8. Unsupported by archers, the horsemen were unable to make any impression on the Scots spearmen, precisely what had happened in the opening stages of Falkirk
  9. The English squadron was broken, some seeking refuge in the nearby castle, others fleeing back to the army
  10. On the Second day of battle Edward made the worst decision of all: He ordered the army to cross the Bannockburn to the east of the New Park
  11. Not long after daybreak on 24 June, the Scots spearmen began to move towards the English. Edward was surprised to see Robert's army emerge from the cover of the woods
  12. One of the English earls, Gloucester, asked the king to hurry up, but the king accused him of cowardice.Angered, the earl mounted his horse and led the vanguard on a charge against the leading Scots spearmen, commanded by Edward Bruce
  13. Gloucester, who according to some accounts had not bothered to don his surcoat , was killed in the forest of Scottish spears, along with some of the other knights
  14. The very size and strength of the great army was beginning to work against the English king, as his army could not move quickly and lost a lot of time in getting into position
  15. Bruce then committed his whole Scots army to an inexorable bloody push into the disorganised English mass, fighting side by side across a single front
  16. Edward's army was now so tightly packed that if a man fell, he risked being immediately crushed underfoot or suffocated and the English and Welsh longbowmen failed to get a clear shot in fear they might hit their own men
  17. After some time they moved to the side of Douglas's division and began shooting into its left, but Robert the Bruce had anticipated this, and upon his command the Scottish 500-horse light cavalry under the Marischal Sir Robert Keith dispersed them
  18. The returning fleeing archers then caused the infantry itself to begin to flee
  19. Later the knights began to escape back across the Bannockburn
  20. With the English formations beginning to break, a great shout went up from the Scots, They fail. This cry was heard by Bruce's camp followers , who promptly gathered weapons and banners and charged forward
  21. They fail
  22. This cry transformed the small folk of the baggage train into warriors ready for battle
  23. To the English army, close to exhaustion, this appeared to be a fresh reserve and they lost all hope. The English forces north of the Bannockburn broke into fligh