BANNOCKBURN has been described as “the birthplace” of modern Scotland by the First Minister during a visit to a new visitor centre about the town’s famous battle.
Alex Salmond was the first person to sign the guest book at the attraction, which opens tomorrow ahead of the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn on June 23 and 24.
The centre will help people learn about the battle and features 10 digital characters from both Robert the Bruce and Edward II’s armies, who will interact with visitors using gesture recognition technology.
They will discuss the weaponry, tactics and techniques involved in the battle, as well as help visitors learn about the people taking part in the battle, their skills, motivations, allegiances and personal stories.
Robert the Bruce and King Edward II will feature in 3D in the centre’s ‘Prepare for Battle room, where visitors are transported back to 1314, the night before the battle.
The First Minister was given a tour of the site with guests including Lord Elgin, a descendent of Robert the Bruce, and actor David Hayman who voices Sir James Douglas, a key Scottish lieutenant, in the exhibition.
Mr Salmond said: “The highest compliment I can pay to this centre is that it rises to its setting.
“Through sensitive architecture, modern scholarship and stunning computer graphics, it will enable people from Scotland and around the world to understand why Bannockburn has resonated down these ages.
“It communicates to a new generation the significance of this site as the birthplace of our modern nation.
“It helps us appreciate anew that the democracy and liberty that we enjoy today, and indeed the coming peaceful opportunity for freedom, we can in the greatest part credit to these struggles of seven centuries ago.”
At the end of each visit there is a battle game where visitors will be allocated an army division which appears on a massive 3D map of the Stirling landscape, giving a bird’s-eye view of the battle.
Battlemasters will be on hand to provide historical details, tips and advice before declaring the successful side, summarising the results of the action with an overview of how the battle played out in 1314 and revealing the 21st-century version of the landscape and locations of conflict.
Mr Salmond added: “Here at Bannockburn are places where thousands, far too many thousands, of men lost their lives. Part of the remembrance of any battle, even one 700 years ago, should be respect and honour for the fallen.
“However, the inspirational central myth of Bannockburn, and indeed the essential truth of the event, lies in its preservation of Scottish freedom and independence.
“If the battle did not in itself win the war, it certainly did prevent defeat and six years later inspired the Declaration of Arbroath, to become known as Scotland’s Declaration of Independence.”