Thursday, 6 October 2016

"Bloody. Brutal. Bannockburn." An adventure not to be missed @BattleofBannock

  "O Flower of Scotland,
When will we see
Your like again,
That fought and died for,
Your wee bit Hill and Glen..."

There is one word that sums up The Scottish War Of Independence
 and that word is ...

I asked my children, when we got home, what was their favourite historic site that they visited in Scotland. They all said the same thing,"Bannockburn." I shall tell you why in a minute.

It has been over 16 years since I last visited Bannockburn and I was looking forward to showing my children the statue of Robert The Bruce on his horse, but as we pulled up in the car park, I realised that 16 years was a long time. They had built a new visitor center and I couldn't wait to get inside!

When we bought our tickets, we were asked if we would like to go on the museum tour and of course, we said yes. She then produced some 3D glasses. "You'll need these." Interesting, I thought.

It was twenty minutes until the next tour, so we decided to head outside and go and see that famous monument.

The Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre isn't quiet on the battlefield, but is built in what was the Scottish Camp. There really isn't a better place for a monument for those Scottish hero's who fell. Bannockburn was the ultimate Scottish victory against King Edward II. They did, after all stand…

"...against him,
Proud Edward's Army,
And sent him homeward,
Tae think again."

The monument was beautiful and peaceful ~ peaceful, yes, I think that is the word I am looking for. It was a place to reflect and to remember all those who died that day.

We wondered back inside in time for the tour.

When I woke up in the morning, I wasn't expecting to find myself in the middle of The Battle of Bannockburn, with arrows whizzing over my head, horses charging right at me and people dying to my left and my right. I mean nobody expects that? Right? But this is what you get at Bannockburn. Bannockburn has invested in state of the art, 3D technology so you experience, safely, what the battle was like. Wow! It was amazing. A little gruesome, but not so scary that it is unsuitable for children. It was truly incredible. I have been to some of the best visitor centers in Britain, but this one...this is something else. Oh, my days! It was ~ I'm sorry, I am running out of adjectives to describe it! And that wasn't all....

The tour continued...we got to - in their own words

"Walk the battleground, guide your own army of medieval soldiers through the 3D simulation and visit the all important Bannockburn; a stretch of water that proved the turning point in the battle."

If you have ever played Rome Total War, it was the same principle, but on a bigger scale. How awesome is that?

The wonderful guide split us into teams, and we stood around this huge map of the terrain while he showed us how the battle of Bannockburn played out and then it was our turn. We were going to make the decisions. We were going to fight. We were going to watch the battle unfold on the map in front of us. My youngest, who is 6, was crowned King Robert of Scotland, and it was a role he took very seriously, although he seemed to be slightly more concerned with killing his brother who was an English knight than victory over the English army - talk about family loyalty! It went out the window.

There were a lot of nervous faces when the guide asked for instructions.

"Where do you want your knights? Speak up, I can't hear you."

"You want to put them against the schiltron? Did you wake up suicidal?"
and so it went on!

It wasn't the most predictable of battles, but it was certainly entertaining. The Black Douglas turned tail and ran back to Stirling ~ I'm not too sure what he would have made of that if he were still alive! But King Robert - my son - was much more decisive and he led his troops to victory over the English Queen ~ yes I did say Queen ~ it is pretend ~ Robert the Bruce wasn't really 6 when he fought the English at Bannockburn! The Scots were victorious although victory wasn’t actually decided at Bannockburn but Stirling. History was rewritten! The result was the same, and that is the main thing! I think…

 My youngest, ready for battle ~ although he couldn't see where he was going!!

Talk about bringing history to life.  You couldn't get any better than this.

When asked about Scotland this is the first thing my children want to talk about, followed secondly by something else that happened at Gretna Green ~ but that my friends, is for another day!

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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx