Fought on June 24, 1314, Bannockburn was a stunning piece of defense for a Scotland fighting for it's independence from Great Britain. With Scotland's popular Rebel Leader William Wallace defeated at The Battle of Fallkirk in 1298 (and his capture and execution by The English), Scotland needed another “Leader” to continue to press for their liberty. This Leader was Robert, Bruce (Ruler) of Scotland. After eventual “intrigue” in Succession to the Scottish Throne, Bruce formed an Army and again threatened to invade England. King Edward I (personally commanded an English Army) – headed North. His death enroute would transfer power to his Son – Edward II. He soon marched North towards Stirling Castle. Bruce besieged the Castle with is 9,000 men briefly.
When news of a Army of 25,000 English coming, he stopped his assault. Bruce knew he was outmatched, he decided to used the natural surroundings to his (and his small Army's advantage).Bruce ordered hundreds of small (3 to 4 foot) holes dug in front of the positions he had established for his Infantry. Each hole was partially filled with irregularly cut branches of tree wood. Carefully disguised, his plan was to prompt an English Cavalry assault against his Lines. The English (who, as most Armies of The Era – relied on), would naturally “start off” with their Heavily Armored Cavalry. The field chosen was nearby Bannockburn. This was a partially marshy (swamp) area that was no wider than a mile. Bordered by trees on either side, it was Bruce's plan to cause The English to “funnel” into his Lines.
Taking his smaller Force, Bruce gathered them into modified “Schiltrons” (or Squares). Often debated as a form of the much more ancient Roman “Tortoise” or “Tusdio” Formation, his men were armed with Spear, Bardiche, Axe and Sword. They had not long to wait. The English arrived on the morning of June 24th. They had sent advance guards of Light Cavalry, but The Scots eliminated them. With the onslaught of the Heavy Cavalry (as predicted) – falling for Bruce's ”holes”, the field was littered with dead and dying horses and Knights and mounted fighters being hacked to death quickly.
The resulting confusion caused the English Archers (so deadly), to bunch up and hide behind their advancing Infantry. Shooting wildly, they overshot The Scots. In many cases, the Archers hit the backs of their own men!. Unknown to The English, Bruce's “Reserves” were no more than Camp Followers and Servants (armed no less). Hiding in the right flank of the woodline, they rushed out into the advancing English. The mere sight (thinking no doubt that they were part of a “larger” Military Force), caused them to crumble and fall back (unclear as to just WHAT lay in the “woods”). The Scots did not rest on their victory. They doggedly pursued The English on their retreat. The English lost over 11,000 at Bannockburn. The Scots fared only a little better – with the lost of 4,000. There would many more battle, many more “truce and Treaty” until Scotland achieved it's eventual (short lived) independence in 1328.