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Travel back in time at Bannockburn Live

The monument to Robert the Bruce at the new Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre. Picture: Robert Perry

The monument to Robert the Bruce at the new Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre. Picture: Robert Perry

  • by KATE TURNBULL
 

Recreation of famous Scottish victory marks 700 years since important landmark in the history of the country, says Kate Turnbull

Little Robert from Fife runs ahead of his parents as he crosses the Bannockburn battlefield. Grasping his smartphone and listening to his headphones, he stops short as suddenly the atmosphere changes.

Pulling off his headphones, his family catches up with him and wonder fills their faces as they try to comprehend what they have stepped into.

The sound of weapons being sharpened for battle; the smell of hot lamb stew simmering on the fire; a feeling of tension and anticipation in the air; the sight of women and children preparing men for battle; the taste of imminent victory for the Scots. Welcome to Bannockburn Live.

Ask any Scot for a significant date they know in Scottish history and you can be sure that 1314 will be the one that comes to mind.

One of the most decisive battles in the First War of Scottish Independence, this clash between the English and the Scots, which resulted in a Robert the Bruce-led Scottish victory at Bannockburn, near Stirling, remains one of the cornerstones in the history of this country.

Marking 700 years (and five days) since this noteworthy milestone in Scottish history, the lush green fields around the Bannock Burn will come to life on 28-29 June for a once-in-a-generation Homecoming Scotland event.

Visitors will be invited to step back in time, crossing over from 2014 to 1314 to the battle encampment as armies of Scottish and English troops prepare for the fight of their lives. With medieval cooking, armouries, blacksmiths and 14th century living quarters to discover, visitors will witness battle preparations being made, getting a factual glimpse of June 1314.

Of course, the preparations are only the beginning of the action as hundreds of warriors leave the shelter and relative safety of base camp to take to the battlefield to recreate an epic skirmish.

King Edward II will lead the English troops, while King Robert the Bruce leads the Scots.

Choreographed by battle performance specialists, Clanranald, famous for their work on Hollywood blockbusters such as Gladiator, Robin Hood and Thor 2, visitors will watch the battle rage three times throughout the day.

Employing traditional fighting techniques that would have been used in the 1300s, this high-energy battle performance will be the largest of its nature ever seen in Scotland. This is a re-creation of an emotive and breathtaking moment in Scottish history.

Outside of the 1314 encampment, Bannockburn Live will showcase a colourful festival of Scottish culture from music, to arts and crafts, history, food and drink.

Storyville will bring Scotland’s story to life through music, song and spoken word. A magical part of Bannockburn Live, this special village will let people drift off into their imagination.

Performers will provide entertainment through music and debate across a wide variety of genres and topics both historical and current. Children of all ages will find interactive games and activities in Storyville, including storytelling, face painting and crown-making.

The Food and Drink Village at Bannockburn Live, curated by Scotland Food and Drink, will encourage visitors to discover high quality seasonal and local artisan food and drink – available to sample and buy. Discussions and demonstrations on food in both historical and contemporary contexts will happen throughout both days and visitors will get a taste of fresh Scottish produce in all its many forms.

The special bar in this village will serve a selection of artisan beers and other drinks.

Clan groups from home and abroad will make their way to Stirling for Bannockburn Live to join the Clan and Family Village. Visitors will be able to meet the clans and families, hear stories and legends and uncover their own Scottish roots in an on-site genealogy centre.

Music will fill the air of Bannockburn Live throughout the weekend on the main stage. Contemporary, trad and folk artists will perform a variety of music, and the full line-up for the event will be announced next month.

Due to capacity, the new National Trust for Scotland Battle of Bannockburn visitor centre (opening next month) will not be open to general admission ticket holders during the Bannockburn Live event. The visitor centre will only be open to Bannockburn Live “King’s Ticket” ticket holders.

VisitScotland is working with Unique Events, The National Trust for Scotland and partners to produce Bannockburn Live, which is one of more than 600 Homecoming Scotland 2014 events happening across the country this year. To find out more and discover events in your area, visit www.homecomingscotland.com

• Kate Turnbull is corporate press manager at VisitScotland.

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