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Wings Over Scotland


Letters from the Editor

Posted on April 15, 2013 by

We recently received the same letter from the Radio Times as many other people did, in response to our complaint about the magazine’s misrepresentation of respected Scottish historian Dr Fiona Watson last month. The problem related to an article about the film “Braveheart”, which made some deeply unpleasant implications easily read as saying the SNP were xenophobic racists encouraging anti-English violence.

braveheart2

The reply didn’t address the very specific issues we’d raised about what Dr Watson did or didn’t say, so we wrote back to the mag’s editor Ben Preston seeking clarification on a couple of important points. His reply is below.

“Dear Rev Campbell,

Thanks for your email. We certainly didn’t fabricate quotes by Dr Watson – and she wasn’t dishonest either. She gave a long interview which, as I explained, was compressed.

She said that the “SNP government would have no truck with anything that smacked of anti-English xenophobia. Like any government, the SNP used history as it suited them on the back of Braveheart. That period has been a gift to Alex Salmond and whether it’s true that he chose 2014 as the year of the vote because of of Bannockburn only he knows.”

We have clarified on our letters page in our new issue that Dr Watson stated explicitly that the SNP would have no truck with anti-English xenophobia, even though the article didn’t say that the SNP did.

Yours sincerely,
Ben Preston”

So let’s just do a little compare and contrast on that ACTUAL quote from Dr Watson (in bold above) with what appeared under her name in the published feature:

Braveheart is more fiction than fact. It’s also helped fuel anti-English sentiment in Scotland… TRUE

That period has been a gift to Alex Salmond and the SNP. Politicians might not feel much affinity with history themselves, but they know how to make use of it. The problem with Braveheart now is xenophobia: the justification of anti-English sentiment for which there should be absolutely no tolerance in a modern Scotland.

It’s not justifiable, and it has happened even after devolution. In 2006 kids were still getting beaten up for wearing an England shirt. That’s why I think Wallace is a harder hero to stomach today.”

Mr Preston’s original reply said “I would accept that the paragraph to which you refer could have been clearer.” Readers can form their own conclusions.

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53 to “Letters from the Editor”

  1. FreddieThreepwood says:

    I remember at the time the film came out and all this anti-English nonsense started up thinking to myself – why is it no-one complains about WW2 films being anti-German, or Henry V being anti-French, cowboy films being anti-native American etc?
    Why should Scots alone not be allowed to wallow in a bit of romanticised nonsense about their past – and a past, remember that, in this case is a full 700 years ago! If they made a film of Mons Grapius (which ‘we’ lost) would we be anti-Italian?
    Let’s stop making excuses for Braveheart (baloney though it is) and tell the po-faced gits to go fuck themselves.

  2. Seasick Dave says:

    Mr Preston seems to be a bit of an oleaginous dissembler.
     
    Of course, if he takes offence, that’s not what I meant at all.

  3. Dcanmore says:

    It’s not a compression of the original quote, it’s a bloody rewrite!
     
    O/T sorry bring this up again but The Herald (bless em’) today are still plugging away at the dodgy donation story, this time the baton has been handed to Michael Settle … 
    http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/referendum-news/oil-cash-pressure-grows-on-no-camp.20790182?utm_source=headlines&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=email%2Balert

  4. Allan Jackson says:

    Braveheart was nothing more than your typical Hollywood distortion of historical facts, and basically no where near the truth, The fact is yes Wallace was and is seen as a hero of Scottish history, but that does not hide the fact he was also a bandit and a murder, when we look at history we should also take into account the unpleasant side of that person, and not just paint one side of them.
    We just have to look at the present day down in London, as the Tories and closet Tories of Wasteminster wish to bastardise the legacy of Thatcher, as one of the greatest PM in history, with the exclusion of the fact, she destroyed UK industry, threw millions on the dole, destroyed communities, all of which we are still suffering from today. Distorting the truth is not a complete history.
     
    Hail alba gu brath, Vote YES 18/09/14. Remember a vote of YES is NOT a vote for Alex Salmond and the SNP, but a vote for a chance to build a better, caring brighter future for Scotland.

  5. Susan says:

    Most English people that we have canvassed in the Western Isles are supporters of independence!

  6. velofello says:

    It must be tedious at times Rev Stu having to contest these Smart Alec distortions, but someone has to do it, otherwise the non-discerning take as fact what is printed before them.

  7. Macart says:

    Looks like a re-write to me.
     
    Either its the same statement or its not. Kind of a black or white thing really.
     
    Who knew? 😉

  8. Albert Herring says:

    That period has been a gift to Alex Salmond” seems a very odd thing for an historian to say. Did it do it deliberately?

  9. John Lyons says:

    It’s all actually true. Everything the Unionist say about Scots being racist I mean. There are only racist people in Scotland, no where else in the UK has this problem. I for one have never heard any English person say “I hope you get independence so we can be rid of you scrounging miserable jocks.” Nope. Never. And there certainly have never been Political parties in England whose policies are based on hatred of balcks. The National front were just mis understood. There was never a party that stood for hatred of Muslims. The BNP are nice once you get to know them. (As long as your not a Muslim, obviously!) and UKIP are perfectly happy for Eastern Europeans to come here on holiday and spend all thier hard earned cash on trying to get a glimpse of Her Maj so long as they piss off back to thier own country when it runs out.
     
    Nope. Racial hatered is purely a Scottish thing, and it’s worse than that. EVERY Scot hates ALL of the English. We even hate people like reverend Stu just cause he LIVES in England! Our Grass even refuses to ever be Red or Blue cause it hates the unioin Jack so much, and that’s why it rains so much here. Even the sky doesn’t want to be blue in Scotland just in case it’s associated with the blue in the union jack, even though that’s supposed to be our blue!

  10. steven luby says:

    @FreddieThreepwood
     
    So pleased,actually,relieved to see someone else thinking along these lines.
    Succinctly put.
     

  11. John Lyons says:

    By the way, Is that picture Mel Gibson or Eric Joyce after he’s had a few?
     

  12. Jiggsbro says:

    Have Alex Salmond or the SNP ever used Braveheart or that period of history? For anything? Because I must have missed it.

  13. Iain says:

    @ Jiggsbro
     
    I believe at the time of its release Alex Salmond may have referred to Braveheart as important in consciousness raising in the matter of Scottish independence, a fairly inarguable point. The ratio of Bravehearting between Unionist commentators, trolls & Daily Mail idiots and the SNP is probably around three million to one though.

  14. Allan Jackson says:

     
    Jiggsbro says:
    15 April, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Have Alex Salmond or the SNP ever used Braveheart or that period of history? For anything? Because I must have missed it.
     
    Only people I have heard or seen using this is Unionists and their supporters. Actually had a friend who is pro-union, accuse me of Braveheart syndrome in a discussion over interdependence, even though he knows I have always been in favour and supported the idea of a free independent Scotland, and also know my opinion of the Braveheart film.
     
     
    John Lyons says:
    15 April, 2013 at 12:45 pm
     
    Well said, could not have put it better myself.
      

  15. robert louis says:

    Have to agree with the thoughts of Freddie threepwood.  I am tired of being told that we shouldn’t celebrate bannockburn or Wallace, because it is anti English.  The simple facts are, that Bannockburn was the point at which OUR Scottish king and the Scottish army, defeated an Invading English aggressor, led by an anti Scottish English king (Edward) who already had a great deal of Scottish blood on his hands.  This was no small or trivial matter.
     
    The work of Sir William Wallace and King Robert the Bruce, ensures Scotland was once again free from the English aggressor, for several hundred years, until several Scots sold their country out for English bribes to sign the act of union of 1707.
     
    In my opinion, it is not Scots who revere this period of Scottish history who are at fault, but rather those in England, and Labour people like Ian Davidson, who cannot accept the reality of Scottish / English history.  Perhaps one day, England will openly accept its malicious role in Scottish history, instead of trying to continually belittle our nations heroes.  Of course matters have moved on, and relations between Scotland and England are good, but that is NO reason for unionists to become what might be termed ‘history deniers’, simply because it does not fit their own personal unionista narrative.
     
    In England, many historical battles between England and other nations, such as France and Germany are still acknowledged, so I see no good reason, other than one almighty Scottish cringe, for people in Scotland not to celebrate one of the greatest victories by one of our greatest ever Scottish kings.  Sir William Wallace was no joke.  He was a true hero for Scotland, sadly brutally murdered in London by the English.  He was for good reason appointed Guardian of Scotland, and later knighted by King Robert the Bruce.  Also no surprise that their statues now both stand flanking the entry to Edinburgh castle. 
     
    Those Scots such as Labour’s Ian Davidson who seek to denigrate Scotland’s culture and history to favour an English dominated narrative are frankly pathetic.  Cringe, cringe, cringe, cringety cringe.

  16. Ron says:

    O/T Apologies if posted elsewhere.
    Poll in to-day’s P&J;
     
    Orkney and Shetland;
    Yes 8%
    No 70%
    DK 8%
     
    Highlands and Islands;
    Yes 26%
    No 50%
    DK 24%
     
    Inverness;
    Yes 11.8%
    No 43.1%
    DK 45.1%
     
    Moray;
    Yes 32%
    No54%
    DK 14%
     
    Aberdeenshire;
    Yes 33.8%
    No 48.7%
    DK 17.5%
     
    Aberdeen City;
    Yes 30.3%
    No 45.3%
    DK 24.3%
     
    Overall;
    Yes 27%
    No 49.9%
    DK 23%
     
    Number Polled;
    500
     
    More effort required!

  17. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    I’m guessing from those numbers that their sample in Orkey and Shetland was 12 people…

  18. robert louis says:

    Indeed, 500 represents, 1/10000th of the Scottish population, if we assume it to be 5 million.

  19. Iain says:

    Orkney and Shetland;
    Yes 8%
    No 70%
    DK 8%’
     
    More effort required from the P&J number crunchers, unless 14% hung up before the pollsters could start their spiel.

  20. dmw42 says:

    I tell my American friends that, during the Wars of Independence, we Scots used Loch Achray and Loch Venachar as passwords. If the interrogated pronounced the ‘ch’ as ‘ck’ they had their throats slit.
     
    I also informed American friends that the inventor of crosswords is buried in Cannongate cemetery (three down and four across – boom, boom).
     
    I fully expect these little known Scottish ‘facts’ to be reproduced in Radio Times.

  21. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “‘Orkney and Shetland;
    Yes 8%
    No 70%
    DK 8%’

    More effort required from the P&J number crunchers, unless 14% hung up before the pollsters could start their spiel.”

    Now there’s a point 😀

  22. abigdoob says:

    FreddieThreepwood says:
    Yep
    What they forget or conveniently ignore is that they started it/them, the Wars of Independence that is. That they didn’t get the result they wanted, expected, or felt they deserved by right, is just tough titty.
    The really amazing thing though is that 100s of years later they’re still girning about it, still trying to (re)write history their way.

  23. Craig P says:

    Almost every English person I know in Scotland detests Braveheart because they think they might be discriminated against as a result of a Scot watching it (I wonder if there was similar furore in Northern Ireland when Michael Collins came out?). However going by the most recent police figures, anti-English racism is actually pretty low in Scotland, and this makes sense because these days the Scots and English are pretty similar, we are not separated by vast gulfs of race, religion or culture. 
     
    On the other hand the plight of other ethnicities who definitely have experienced widespread discrimination, say Irish in the past or Pakistani today, are given almost no publicity at all.
     
    The subject only generates heat and hand-wringing in the commentariat because of the make up and sympathies of the ruling class – and because it provides Scottish unionists a handy stick with which to beat those in favour of self-determination. 

  24. Dan Huil says:

    The strangest figure to me is the 45% don’t knows in Inverness.Were they just being polite? Or coy?

  25. YesYesYes says:

    Braveheart is a good film. To criticise it for its historical inaccuracy kind of misses the point. It was a Hollywood blockbuster designed to put bums on seats and it certainly succeeded in that, making over $200 million worldwide and winning five Oscars, including best film and best director.
     
    I often think that what really sticks in unionist craws about Braveheart is the fact that it projected Scotland onto the international stage, it was a film about our history (albeit with a bit of poetic licence), a film in which Hollywood and, by extension, the rest of the world recognised us and, finally, a film that was so successful and popular worldwide.

  26. abigdoob says:

    Re the P&J 500.
    Almost as representative from a number polled point of view,
    From Celtic fans on KDS since 21 Jan
    393 Votes
    Yes 260 (66.2%) No 87 (22.1%) DK 46 (11.7%)

  27. K Mackay says:

    robert louis very well put, saved me the effort 🙂

  28. The Man in the Jar says:

    As before with previous article. Forwarded to Duncan Fenton, Convenor of Society of William Wallace. I know that he is touch with Dr. Fiona Watson with regard to this matter

  29. Rod Mac says:

    Those Scots such as Labour’s Ian Davidson who seek to denigrate Scotland’s culture and history to favour an English dominated narrative are frankly pathetic.
     
    ==========================================================
    1.      Whenever you see an article or comment or statement which diminishes Scotland or it’s ability to run it’s own affairs think on the following and why it is done becomes a little clearer.
    “Deprive the people of their national consciousness, treat them as a tribe, dilute their national pride, do not teach their history, propagate their language as inferior, imply they have a cultural void, emphasise their customs are primitive and dismiss independence as a barbaric anomaly”
    Do these comments ring a bell with anyone?
    Who said them? Reinhard Heydrich, Nazi Leader, styled Protector of Czechoslovakia
    maybe it explains a few things 

  30. sandy says:

    “abigdoob`
    Encouraging

  31. sandy says:

    I don`t get this Braveheart  and its historical inaccuracy thing.
    Its a Hollywood movie not a historical documentary so of course there has been bits added to make it more saleable at the box office,but the important facts in the film are correct surely.
     Edward 1 had (not in the film) massacred the inhabitants of Berwick and was hell bent on subduing Scotland.True
    William Wallace fought and won a decisive victory at Stirling Bridge. True.
    He was made Guardian of Scotland. True
    Wallace fought a guerrilla campaign against the  English. True.
    Wallace was  betrayed by his own countrymen. True.
    Wallace was taken to London and charged with treason. True.
    He denied the charge stating he had never sworn fealty to Edward . True.
    He was found guilty anyway and hung drawn and quartered. True
    Robert the Bruce  eventually won freedom from the  English occupation at the Battle of Bannockburn. True.
    So the relevant historical facts in the film are true.

  32. sandy says:

    How could I have duplicated my post if it is the first time I have written it and it has not appeared?

  33. sandy says:

    Its appeared now .Thanks.

  34. Bingo Wings Over Scotland says:

    abigdoob says:
    Re the P&J 500.
    Almost as representative from a number polled point of view,
    From Celtic fans on KDS since 21 Jan
    393 Votes
    Yes 260 (66.2%) No 87 (22.1%) DK 46 (11.7%)

    Similar to the poll on the Pie & Bovril forum. This covers supporters of all Scottish clubs, including both halves of the Old Firm. Currently sitting at 459 voters, with Yes 271 (64.07%) No 119 (28.13%) and DK 33 (7.8%)
    There’s an option to delete your vote, which may explain why the number of voters only adds up to 423.
    P&B’s original thread was lost a couple of months back, and the poll started again. I recall over 700 votes back then, with similar percentages.
    http://www.pieandbovril.com/forum/index.php/topic/198881-independence-how-would-you-vote/page-178?

  35. Taranaich says:

    Given the spectacular character assassination of Robert the Bruce, the near complete airbrushing of Andrew de Moray out of the fight for independence, the simplification of Anglo-Scottish politics, and the portrayal of Medieval Scots as backwards numpties who just sat on their hands while the English nobility got first dibs at their newlyweds until a big handsome hero (who is depicted as having spent much of his adult life *outside* Scotland, counter to the historical record), how come there isn’t a movement from nationalists criticizing Braveheart for the damage it’s done to the nationalist cause?

    When my 12-year-old cousin asked me why people think Robert the Bruce is a Scottish hero after “he betrayed William Wallace,” I just want to tear my beard out. For all the patriotism the film appears to have instilled, it’s also wrought a distorted and dangerous view of the period that’s just as damaging as the Glaswegian psychopath trope currently popular in soaps. And that’s all ignoring the obvious strawman certain parties love to trot out, that apparently centuries of Scottish independence movements and strained Anglo-Scottish relations didn’t exist prior to a 1995 Hollywood blockbuster.

    There’s a reason Tom Church’s Gibson-styled “Wallace” statue was placed behind a cage (how bitterly ironic) to protect it from defacement before its eventual removal, and it isn’t because of Unionists.

  36. Les Calthorps says:

    Had there been “less calthorps” planted by The Bruce on the field of Bannockburn the outcome of the battle may have gone the way of the Southeron with their superior horse power used against a depleted nation who had been reduced in numbers to app. 400,000 by an 18year reign of murder and terror by our caring ,sharing neighbours.
    My 1st. post on this site appears to have disappeared into the ether.
    In it I wondered about an unknown conspicy theory.
    WAS KING ALEXANDER THE THIRD PUSHED OR DID HE FALL?
     

  37. BeamMeUpScotty says:

    Scotland has “Braveheart” and England has….let me think…”The Great Escape”.There must be a moral in that somewhere.Probably,if you want to get on in life,get on your bike (motorcycle that is).

  38. Taranaich says:

    I don`t get this Braveheart  and its historical inaccuracy thing.
    Its a Hollywood movie not a historical documentary so of course there has been bits added to make it more saleable at the box office,but the important facts in the film are correct surely.

    Sandy, while the film does get a lot of salient facts right (as you list), there are also several important things they get wrong:

    Wallace was a poor common lad who travelled across Europe including Rome: False

    Isabella and Wallace slept together, resulting in Edward III: False

    Robert the Bruce betrayed the Scots during the Battle of Falkirk, while the Irish betrayed the English: False

    Prima Noctis was a thing: False

    And so forth. Yes, it is Hollywood and it is entertainment, but the capacity for fiction to influence people’s knowledge should never be underestimated, and when that involves historical events, it can be very dangerous to merely dismiss inaccuracies for the sake of entertainment. How many people still believe millions (as opposed to thousands) of women were burned at the stake (rather than hanged) as witches during the Middle Ages (as opposed to the early modern period)? How many still believe Columbus’ voyage was out to prove the world was round? That Nero fiddled while Rome burned? Likewise, the misconceptions of Braveheart need to be challenged. It may make a good story, but it must always be remembered that it’s just that: a story.

  39. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “In it I wondered about an unknown conspicy theory.
    WAS KING ALEXANDER THE THIRD PUSHED OR DID HE FALL?”

    Um, that one got published. I saw it. It’s here:

    http://wingsoverscotland.com/but-firstly/#comment-383129

  40. Les Calthorps says:

    Interesting that you should mention motorcycles B.M.U.S. in the post immediately following the one where I mention Calthorps.
    An enterprising Scotsman rubbed our so superior neighbours noses into the dirt when he manufactured motorcycles in Birmingham/Manchester??? between the two world wars and named them “CALTHORPS”.  The damper knob on both sides of these machines was a beautiful cast thistle picked out in red and green.

  41. Braco says:

    Taranaich,

    Fallacy and interpretation are what make and have always made ‘history’ anything but the study of what actually happened in the past.

    I admire your stance but I am afraid that box is already open and you won’t get all the pish that has been spouted about history, ours, theirs, anybodies and every bodies back in to it.

    I take what I want from wherever I can get it and use it to try and imagine a better, fairer, more democratic and socially just Scotland (and hopefully world) for it’s citizens.

    I am a cynical idealist.
     

  42. kininvie says:

    Personally, I blame Yolande de Dreux for everything….

  43. The Man in the Jar says:

    @Taranaich
    Don’t want to get into a dispute but. If Wallace did not travel across Europe including Rome How come the only surviving possession of Wallace is a letter of introduction to the Pope written by the King of France. This was on his possession when arrested and is presently held in the royal archives in Kew?

  44. Taranaich says:

    Had there been “less calthorps” planted by The Bruce on the field of Bannockburn the outcome of the battle may have gone the way of the Southeron with their superior horse power used against a depleted nation who had been reduced in numbers to app. 400,000 by an 18year reign of murder and terror by our caring ,sharing neighbours.
     
    Dinnae underestimate the power of a manky bog! The calthorps were undoubtedly instrumental as part of the anti-cavalry measures employed which were crucial to the Scots’ victory.
     
    WAS KING ALEXANDER THE THIRD PUSHED OR DID HE FALL?
     
    Hmm…
     
    Fallacy and interpretation are what make and have always made ‘history’ anything but the study of what actually happened in the past.
    I admire your stance but I am afraid that box is already open and you won’t get all the pish that has been spouted about history, ours, theirs, anybodies and every bodies back in to it.
     
    That may be true, Braco, and it may be that what we consider history is itself nothing but the propaganda and storytelling of the past, but I respectfully take the other approach. I may not change many minds, but I can change the minds of those I meet, and that’ll dae fur me.
     
    Don’t want to get into a dispute but. If Wallace did not travel across Europe including Rome How come the only surviving possession of Wallace is a letter of introduction to the Pope written by the King of France. This was on his possession when arrested and is presently held in the royal archives in Kew?
     
    You’re absolutely right, Gentleman of the Jar: that document was dated to 1300, well after the beginning of the War of Independence, and it does suggest Wallace travelled to at least France, if not further. Let me amend that to “Wallace was a poor common lad who left Scotland to go on adventures in Europe including Rome with his uncle before coming home to start the rebellion”: the key point was that if Wallace did indeed spend time in Europe, the evidence for it is during the wars, not preceding them, and that he certainly didn’t spend most of his adult life outside his homeland.

  45. The Man in the Jar says:

    @Taranaich
    Wallace vanishes from Scotland after resigning his Guardianship post defeat at Falkirk in July 1298. Little is heard about him till he was betrayed at Robroyston in 1305. This is the period when he was travelling around Europe. Undoubtedly Braveheart took rather a lot of poetic licence however that is no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you do so it becomes the dreaded cringe. It is known that he spoke French and Latin both taught by his uncle.

  46. Handandshrimp says:

    Mr Preston says compression others might say manipulation.

  47. john king says:

    FreddieThreepwood says:
    15 April, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    “I remember at the time the film came out and all this anti-English nonsense started up thinking to myself – why is it no-one complains about WW2 films being anti-German, or Henry V being anti-French, cowboy films being anti-native American etc?Why should Scots alone not be allowed to wallow in a bit of romanticised nonsense about their past – and a past, remember that, in this case is a full 700 years ago! If they made a film of Mons Grapius (which ‘we’ lost) would we be anti-Italian?Let’s stop making excuses for Braveheart (baloney though it is) and tell the po-faced gits to go fuck themselves.”

    On one level I totally agree with you freddie, why should those people get to decide our past and how people view it? it’s ours ffs,
    but then think this construct of the SNP  being braveheart separatists (don’t know how they explain the existence of the SNP long before bravehearts creation?)

      which is in its own right deeply offensive, but on the other hand we have a large body of undecideds out there who (in the absence  of REAL reporting unless those people are aware of NNS or WoS and the like, in which case they would be on board anyway )  are going to be swayed by this spurious and facile argument, I would be willing to shelve the point about telling what to do with themselves until we’ve got independence the we can really tell them to go swivel

  48. a supporter says:

    FreddieThreepwood says: 15 April, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    I agree with you Freddie. Except Braveheart wasn’t complete baloney. The basics of the story are all there in the film. A man William Wallace existed, and his lifestyle was no better nor worse than his peers at the time, he was a patriot who raised an army to fight against the English who had invaded his land, he defeated said English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, lost another battle soon after, was later captured and hauled off to London to be tried in a kangaroo court which sentenced him to be hung drawn and quartered and that sentence was carried out. What more do you need for the outline? Yes the events were embellished but no more than similar events in the films about the 100 years war or the American Wars of Independence, et al

  49. Angus says:

    The reason that the Scottish army won Bannockburn was because on Day 1 (23rd June) they allowed the English Cavalry who arrived ahead of the archers and footmen to charge into a bottleneck of the Scots choosing at Milton Ford. (Still visible today) The charge was indeed narrowed by at least potholes to break the legs of the horses and perhaps calthorps, the idea was to allow little more than an ability of the English cavalry to charge 12 abreast across the Ford. The English cavalry tried to circumnavigate the (main and common) entry through the woods leading to the Dryfield and to Stirling by going east and then north alongside Balquiderock wood on the Carse of Balquiderock and being defeated in a minor skirmish there as well by Randolph, the Bruce’s nephew.
     
     
     
     
    The reason the Scottish army won on day 2 (24th June) was because they attacked the English at Dawn in their camp

  50. Angus says:

    Cont…..The reason the Scottish army won on day 2 (24th June) was because they attacked the English at Dawn in their camp at the Carse of Balquiderock, where all the sources undisputedly agree they camped after the late afternoon skirmish on Day 1. The Scots had held the high ground (Dryfield) the day before (also undisputed) and then slid down the hill through the trees at Balquiderock wood and formed a line of about 15 rows (at least) of well a armed well trained Schiltron formation in three divisions. They marched a few hundred yards (the English still half asleep but rousing as this occurred, and then the Scots knelt, (under the auspices of saying the Pater Noster or our father. The other reason was for experienced soldiers to align them and fix their position to march forward another two hundred yards and form a boundary of footsoldiers filling the space between the Pelstream Burn and the Bannockburn (about 770 yards) and effectively hemming the English army in like sheep in a pen with the Pelstream and Bannockburn surrounding them. The English Cavalry (the vanguard) charged right into the new bottleneck with more charging behind them, (and reducing the cavalry charge to about 60 or 70 yards which was a drastic reduction of horse speed) the first charge was held (described by the English scribes as cavalry charging into a dense forrest) and then the following numerous cavalry charges hit their own cavalry in front, and then the next charge did likewise with the confusion and further packing into any available space-followed by the rush of English foot soldiers and archers unable to even see in front let alone deploy. The Cavalry were trapped, nowhere to go and effectively ceased to be Cavalry………they were pushed off their horses and despatched with an axe to the face or knife to the ochster. Panic ensued among the English troops and they fled either being killed or drowning though plenty escaped as well. All of this is verifiable by the primary sources and there was no Keith charge with a ‘Scottish horse brigade’-this is not mentioned in any primary source but invented in that excellent pice of Scottish prose by Barbour fifty years later as by then few had a clue how we had won so it ended up being made up!

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  51. Les Calthorps says:

    Angus— as you appear to have access to the primary sources can you confirm if the information on the numbers engaged on the side of the Southerons given in my Victorian tomes and referenced to English source material are accurate.
    These are given as:–30,000 Welshmen, all the able bodied fighting men from five provinces in France, eight Irish chieftens with their followers amounting to a total as given of 100,000 fighting men. The camp followers being ignored.
    Nimmo in his History of Stirlingshire gives roughly comparable figures.
    In my lifetime I have seen the numbers given in the Herald newspaper as ranging from 2,000 to 40,000.  they of course having a unionist agenda and indeed when T.V. puported to show the six greatest battles ever fought on British soil Bannockburn was not even mentioned. So much for being all in it together.  

  52. Angus says:

    The reason that the Scottish army numbers are reduced and the English army numbers are inflated is solely down to Barbour’s Bruce and his estimations, but especially his ratio of 3:1which is repeated even when the ridiculous numbers are reduced to workable realistic numbers.
    The population of Stirling, of Scotland itself as well is calculable using mathematical models with plague and war used to reduce the numbers, we probably had about 200,000 inhabitants in Scotland.
     
    Bannockburn the village for instance did NOT exist as anything other than a name of a burn near some hills, the town itself only grew after 1819 when Telford built his bridge that actually spanned the Bannockburn slopes (the King James Bridge earlier was not as accessible as the Milton Ford) making this area perfect for a village or small town.
    The population of the area of Bannockburn in 1750 was enough to occupy about six farms, St Ninian’s had a larger population with a proper main street……..this is obvious from the very accurate and precise drawing of dwellings on General Roy’s maps of Stirling-Roy was given the task of documenting parts of Scotland post 1745 uprising/rebellion dependant on your view.
    If there were only a few dwelling areas at Bannockburn in 1750 (due to lack of accessible wells on the higher ground and the lack of a good reliable bridge before 1819) then there is a high probability of an even lower population (for a few reasons) in 1314. We are painted the image of Bannockburn as a populous village in 1314 when it was not……I heard Fiona Watson (mentioned in the above article) actually talk about Bannockburn as a village in 1314 from a bbc history documentary made for schools about ten years ago on their history website.
    The idea that Robert Bruce, a proven winner with an army of veterans building up, loyal and willing could only find 6,000 men to fight for Scotland at Bannockburn (the commonest quote of Scottish army numbers) begs the question about what on earth the other hundred thousand men of fighting age were doing when Scotland was in danger of being overtaken and beaten by an English army and our country gone forever.
    The charismatic winner and great leader King Robert Bruce had at least 16,000 men at Bannockburn, ALL were on foot.
    The English army had about 3,000 to 4,000 cavalry, about 6,000 archers (mainly Welsh) and about 18,000 foot soldiers.
    There is no reason to believe that the armies were not evenly matched in numbers, though ‘firepower’ wise the English army packed a bigger punch than the total foot soldier schiltron basis of the Scottish army, however Scotland had the leadership and the tactics and the understanding of how to use the land!
    The great poem by Barbour praised the lack of Scots, and exaggerated the amount of English as this poem was commissioned by Robert II, The Bruce’s grandson and had to sing the praises of the achievements of Water the High Steward (Robert II dad) and therefore theis ‘beardless youth’ is given a higher position in the battle than the Bruce or his other captains would ever have allowed-the exaggeration is natural though, not malevolent, but it does add to confusion.
    There are a dozen primary source quotes about the size of the Scottish army as seen by those witnessing them, the English sources said what they saw and described this sight as such that no mistake can be made of a tiny band of under equipped Scots charging at the mighty English army in a place of the English army’s choosing because that would have given a very different result.
    cheers
     
     

  53. Angus says:

    Oh, do not believe the secondary sources, especially Victorian or modern sources or books (or most of them) as the Victorians only had access to some of the primary sources, I myself believed that out of thirty odd books I had read related to Bannockburn that only about six lines were available from the Vita Edwardi Secundi, or the Lanercost Chronicles or the account of Geoffrey Le Baker etc etc, but it is pages of words that reveal so much.
     
    Those who believe the higher ground (the dryfield) deliberately and purposefully held by the Scots on day one was the scene at dawn of the main battle on day 2 have no idea of the fantastic unquestionable quotes from primary sources where the revelations are plentiful.



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