1314 is date firmly imprinted onto the Scottish psyche. Ask why it is significant and without hesitation you’ll be told that it was the year the Battle of Bannockburn was fought and won. For anyone unfamiliar with the famous clash, Scottish forces led by Robert the Bruce – thought to be outnumbered by three men to one – destroyed King Edward II’s army in two days of brutal and bloody warfare, the tales from which are now legendary.
With the 700th anniversary of the historical conflict taking place on 23 and 24 June, we’ve put together a few ideas on how you can commemorate the battle this month, and discover more about its fascinating history.
See the battle come to life during Bannockburn Live, a special event that brings together history, music and food. Hundreds of re-enactors will gather for the biggest battle performance Scotland has ever seen. Led by Clanranald, famous for their work on blockbuster movies Gladiator and Robin Hood, you’ll witness incredibly realistic displays of medieval combat on the ancient battlefield.
And that’s just for starters. Find out more about the jam-packed programme of events in our previous posts on The Distillery blog.
This new two-part history programme is essential viewing for anyone keen to learn about the battle. For centuries, historians have debated over the exact location of the battlefield and so to try and put this mystery to an end, Neil Oliver and Dr Tony Pollard go on the search for answers through historical accounts, battle techniques, modern technology and archaeology. The first episode was broadcast on 2 June while the second was shown on 9 June. Catch up with it on BBC iPlayer while you can!
Plan a visit to one of Scotland’s newest attractions and uncover the events of the battle through a unique 3D experience. Interact with characters from 1314 before taking part in the battle game, where you plan strategies and test your skills of leadership. With help of the interactive map, learn about the tactics employed by the Scottish forces which secured their victory.
Discover more about the new Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre on The Distillery blog.
Known as Stirling’s heritage artist, Leishman is a highly acclaimed painter who explores Scotland’s past through her art. Inspired by poems about the battle, her recent work reflects elements of war including the human energy and conflict, colours and bravery. Witness these impressions of history for yourself in the café and gift shop of the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre.
Also at the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre, see the fascinating results of a genealogy study by postgraduate students from the University of Strathclyde which focuses on some the conflict’s most famous names, including Robert the Bruce and Sir Henry de Bohun from the English side. Discover if DNA testing has identified living descendants of the battle’s participants.
Still proudly sitting high above the city on a steep and imposing crag, Stirling Castle was ultimately the prize at the end of the battle. With Bruce’s triumph in 1314, the English surrender the castle to the Scots. Over the 700 years since the battle, the castle has undergone staggering transformation, including the addition of the magnificent Great Hall in the early 16th century. Visit and experience the castle at the heart of Scotland’s history for yourself.
Experience a spectacle of colour, sound and pomp at Pipefest. Donned from head to toe in Highland dress, thousands of pipers and drummers will march from the gates of Stirling Castle through the city in a parade to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the battle. It’s bound to be a rousing sight that will stay with you.
Read our other blog posts on Pipefest.