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Home of Scots victory over the English 'to host next Gathering'

IT WAS a big birthday for Robert Burns that inspired the first one.

Now it is Robert the Bruce's finest hour that is set to inspire a second huge clan gathering.

The 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn has been suggested as the most likely date for a revival for the event, which is thought to have generated up to 20 million for the nation's economy last weekend.

Organisers of the Gathering – which attracted more than 60,000 people to Edinburgh – say the anniversary of the battle on 24 June, 2014 is the most obvious date for a second event.

Stirling Council chiefs, who have started planning to mark the anniversary, say they would be interested in hosting such an event in the area, which includes the site of the victory over the English.

The prospect has been welcomed by the Scottish Government and culture minister Mike Russell said a clan gathering to coincide with the Bannockburn anniversary would help make it a "fantastic year" for Scotland, which is hosting the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup in 2014.

The Gathering, held over two days at Holyrood Park and included a Royal Mile parade and a pageant at Edinburgh Castle, was staged as the centrepiece of the Year of Homecoming.

More than 300 Homecoming events are being held across the country throughout 2009, inspired by the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns.

The Battle of Bannockburn, which secured Scotland's independence in 1314, is seen as one of the most important battles fought on British soil.

Lord Jamie Sempill, director of the Gathering, said: "The 700th anniversary of Bannockburn is certainly the obvious date to look at for another event.

"We've already said that we don't think it would be feasible to have another event on the scale of the one we've just had for another five years.

"If we are going to have another event of this magnitude it is the date that jumps out at you, there's no two ways about it.

"We are going to sit down over the next few months and take a good look at how this event has gone and what its legacy should be, but I think a decision needs to be taken next year to get things moving for 2014."

Mr Russell, who is to meet Lord Sempill and his team, said: "The Gathering was a mighty success, and a shot in the arm for Scotland and Scottish tourism.

"Ministers will meet the organisers to discuss legacy issues including options for a future Gathering, and 2014 is an attractive idea. It

is shaping up to be another fantastic year for Scotland."

Fergus Wood, Stirling's provost, said:

"I'd certainly be very interested if this area could be the focus of another clan gathering in 2014."

But Labour MSP George Foulkes said he believed a celebration of Bannockburn could be used for political purposes by the SNP.

"There was a very strong feeling that a lot of people expressed to me that the SNP, and Alex Salmond in particular, exploited the Gathering and the Homecoming for their own purposes, and that certainly is worrying."

CROWD PLEASER

THE Gathering, the centrepiece of Scotland's Year of Homecoming celebrations, attracted more than 60,000 people to events in Edinburgh last weekend.

Ewan Colville, VisitScotland's marketing manager for North America and Australasia, said the overall economic benefit could be around 20 million.

The two-day event included the world's biggest Highland Games in Holyrood Park, which saw a crowd of more than 47,000 spectators.

The culmination of the weekend was a spectacular parade of the clans on the Royal Mile. Clan chiefs led Scots from around the world watched by more than 20,000 people lining the route.

The evening finished with the Aisling's Children pageant on Edinburgh Castle's Esplanade.

 
 
 

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