June 23-24, 1314

Bannockburn, Stirlingshire

Scots under Robert Bruce vs. English under King Edward II

Robert the Bruce had rebelled against the English and was attempting to forge an independent Scotland. He besieged Stirling and extracted a promise of submission if the castle was not relieved by a set time. Edward II hurriedly marched north from England to counter the insurgence and reach Stirling in time. They met at Bannockburn, on the approaches to Stirling.

The Battle

The Scottish force was composed largely of infantry, with few archers and little cavalry. Bruce placed his men between two stretches of uneven and boggy ground, so the English had to attack against a narrow front. This negated the English superiority in numbers, which has been estimated at three to one.

Bruce's tactics worked to perfection. The English cavalry hurled charge after charge against the massed spears of the Scottish front, to little effect. The Scottish cause was aided when a large group of their camp-followers was mistaken by the English for fresh Scottish troops, and the English army broke ranks and fled.

The flight of the English troops was hampered by the boggy ground, and many were cut down by the pursuing Scots. The lack of Scottish cavalry limited pursuit, however.


Bannockburn was the decisive blow in establishing the independence of Scotland from England. Although the English refused to recognise the fact until the treaty of Northampton 14 years later, Bannockburn set the seal on Scotland's bid for freedom. Robert the Bruce is rightly remembered as a national hero for his role in ridding Scotland of the English yoke, at least for a time.

More British Battles

Medieval knight image