IT’S among the most famous victories of the Scots over the English, and now the story of the Battle of Bannockburn has been recreated in bloody and harrowing detail in a new comic book.
But in keeping with its dark content, which conveys the terror of war, the work is not aimed at children and teenagers but at older readers.
Among the scenes featured in the graphic novel is the pivotal moment in the battle when English knight Sir Henry de Bohun charges, lance in hand, towards Scots leader Robert the Bruce.
On Dangerous Ground: Bannockburn 1314 was commissioned by the National Trust for Scotland to mark the 700th anniversary of the battle this year and goes on sale in March.
Readers of the work see Bruce stand his ground, wait until Bohun is almost upon him and then stand up in his stirrups to bring his battle-axe crashing down on de Bohun’s head, splitting his helmet and his skull in two, sending shockwaves through the English ranks.
Tom Ingrey-Counter, interpretation project manager at the National Trust for Scotland, explained: “The concept behind the novel was to use an exciting, popular and relevant modern medium to engage the public in the story of Bannockburn.”
The famous description that the “Bannockburn between its banks was so filled with men and horses that men could pass over dryshod upon the drowned bodies” is also captured in the book. In the opening scenes, readers see two English soldiers who have survived the slaughter jump into a river and scramble over the corpses of thousands of dead comrades. They see friends drowned, others dying in agony, and hear desperate cries for help.
Its creators, including Scots historian Dr Fiona Watson, artist Conor Boyle and designer Adam Stanning, revealed they wanted to present a compelling fictional story for readers who might usually turn away from history books.
The plot centres on two real English soldiers, Sir John Fauconberg (Jack) and his squire Stephen Fitz Conan, as well as a Scots woman Eva. Jack and Stephen are the figures fleeing the battlefield at the beginning of the story.
Dr Watson said she wanted to tell the story from both sides and show the complexities and human drama. She created the character Eva to ensure the story had a strong female presence.
She added: “Of course, it is fiction, but nevertheless we can take the general story of what actually happened 700 years ago and create a believable story of how it might have been to be involved.”