|Robert the Bruce Sculpture via sculpturewalksiouxfalls.com|
King Edward II of England had until 24th June to touch the walls of Stirling, and relieve the castle’s siege. The long truce had given the English King sufficient time to gather a strong army and lead it northwards, the largest to invade Scotland in many years. But the Scottish king had not been idle; he had used time to his own advantage. The truce had allowed him to choose the field of battle, the confluence of the Bannock burn and the mighty River Forth, the main route to the castle.
As his army grew the Bruce had them dig thousands of small pits in the ground- most with wooden spikes and covered in grass- but not in any haphazard arrangement. The canny king ensured that the pits were strategically placed like a modern minefield, guiding the enemy into 'safe' channels, thus directing the flow of the English attack. Not only had he chosen the battlefield, he had also dictated the route of the English charge. He had laid his ‘mines’ in the better, firmer areas, and left the attacking channels in the marshier, heavier ground.
|Battle of Bannockburn Day 1 by John Fawkes (Click to purchase)|
These lightly armored, mobile troops had one other advantage; they could run away quicker than the English could follow. If Robert lost Stirling Castle, he was determined not to also lose his army. As King Robert gazed south on this day, he knew that his destiny approached. As he thought of the thousands of Englishmen, marching towards the Scottish border, perhaps he composed the address to his troops on the day of battle…
“Scots, wha hae wi Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome tae yer gory bed,
Or tae victorie…”