Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Bannockburn: A New History

I've received notification of the publication of a new book on the Battle of Bannockburn. Here's the information from the press release:

"Bannockburn 1314: A New History
by Chris Brown
To be published 11th January 2010, priced £12.99

A history of the most celebrated battle between Scotland and England in which a mere 7,000 followers of Robert The Bruce defeated over 15,000 of Edward II's troops.

The battle of Bannockburn, fought over two days by a small river crossing in Stirling, was a decisive victory for Robert the Bruce in the Scottish Wars of Independence against the English. It was the greatest defeat the English would suffer throughout the middle ages, and a huge personal humiliation for King Edward II.

  • The most comprehensive history of the battle ever undertaken.
  • The author’s conclusions rewrite the history books.
  • A new look at the terrain where the battle was fought.
  • Recreates the campaign and battle from the perspectives of both the Scots and English.
  • In-depth investigation of the contemporary narrative sources and the administrative records.
  • Major reassessment of the Scottish victory against the English.
  • 25 colour illustrations and 25 b&w illustrations.

Chris Brown is an acknowledged expert on medieval Scotland and was awarded a PhD from St Andrews University. His other books include William Wallace, The Second Scottish Wars of Independence, Robert the Bruce, The Battle for Aberdeen 1644, and Scottish Battlefields: 500 Battles that Shaped Scottish History. He lives near Fife in Scotland."

To be published by The History Press, this looks worth picking up. I hope to publish a review nearer the time of publication.

1 comment:

  1. Having attended a talk by Chris Brown and having bought his book, I failed to see how the blurb could claim that he the author has rewritten the history books.

    The only reason he has put the battle in the correct place (Carse of Balquhidderock) is because Barbour said the English camped there, and therefore it is obvious that the dawn attack was designed to be fought there as a Scottish military tactic.

    However, Mr Brown appears to be unaware that the earliest sources, dating to the period (1314 and about 30 years onward if you include baker) confirm where the battle was fought, and more important, won.

    Mr Brown believes that there are other areas that around Stirling where the Battle of Bannockburn could have been fought and won.

    None of these areas would fit all the details contained within the primary sources (Lanercost, Vita etc) whereas the Carse does, on all counts!

    There are the unique topographical features unique to the Carse and surrounding area and the real size of the Scots army (at least 12-15,000); 7,000 is a paltry number for an army led by the Bruce and the knife edge outcome to would affect Scotland's continued future as a nation as seldom before in Scottish history.

    The fact that the Scots attacked and surprised the English (who thought they were going on a morning fox hunt) who were forced to fight under the Scottish military tactics of hemming them in their camp between the Bannockburn and Pelstream burn which had acted as a barrier to protect them overnight-now the same barrier hemmed the English army in a enormous sheep pen.

    Unable to manoeuvre by the Scots foot-soldiers (they were ALL on foot including the King-the primary sources say so!) who "marched boldly" and cut down the charging distance required by the English Cavalry by a considerable distance and rendered them ineffective.

    This was the beginning.......and the end for the English Army.

    Mr Brown has the correct area of battle (generally, he is too close to Balquhidderock Wood at the West foot of the Carse) but for all the wrong reasons.