New light on the famous Battle of Stirling Bridge, Scotland in 1297

Stirling Bridge over the River Forth

This evening, I am providing new information on the Battle of Stirling Bridge which took place on September 11th 1297 at a location about forty miles N.W.of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Today's Times newspaper reports on work undertaken by Murray Cook of Stirling University who points out that the location of a medieval harbour at nearby Cambuskenneth indicates that the tidal range of the River Forth was up to about six feet higher seven hundred years ago. The water may have risen about twelve feet behind the English army as they slowly mustered on the  north bank thus entrapping them between the Scots in front and the rising water behind. Result was the English broke ranks with loss of about 5000 men. Clearly the English were ignorant of local conditions thus giving the advantage to Wallace and the Scots notwithstanding the superior size of the English force.

The following narrative is taken from a previous blog post and should be interpreted in light of the new information rehearsed above.

The bridge at centre of the battle was wooden and  located a hundred meters or so upstream of the existing stone built medieval bridge (above) which spans the River Forth and is situated on the plain between the two popular visitor attractions of Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument.

This battle arose as a function of the aggressive and predatory attitude of the English King Edward I towards Scotland and his desire to bring Scotland under his (English) rule.

River Forth at Stirling.

The Scots were led by William Wallace (aka ‘Braveheart’) and Andrew Murray. John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey commanded the English forces. The River Forth separated the two forces with Scots to the north and English to the south.

Below is landscape view of Stirling, including battle site, with castle in top right.

On the morning of the battle, de Warenne overslept  By the time he awoke his forces had already commenced crossing the small wooden bridge which was narrow and permitted only two soldiers/cavalry abreast at a Warenne recalled the troops and then  issued fresh orders to cross. This allowed the Scots to control events in that as soon as a manageable number of soldiers had crossed they swooped down and destroyed them, thereby cutting the English army in two.

A route of the English ensued and to compound matters the bridge collapsed. The English lost about 10 pct of their army in the defeat which resulted in a restoration of Scottish pride and Wallace being entrusted with Guardianship of the realm.

View of Abbey Craig and Wallace Monument in intermediate distance. This is where Wallace’s forces were positioned.


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