2024-03-09 (Day 069) Battle Of Falkirk

The Battle of Falkirk took place on 22 July 1298, between forces led by William Wallace and King Edward I of England. The Scottish army was routed and, soon after, Wallace resigned as Guardian Of Scotland.

What nobody is sure of, is where the battle took place. From contemporary records it appears that the most likely candidates are either the bottom of Cadger’s Brae near Beancross Farm, or here.

This is the confluence of the Westquarter Burn and the Glen Burn. The Westquater Burn is the large of the two, with the Glen Burn coming in from the right of the picture. If it is indeed the site of the battle, then Wallace’s troops would have been at the left of the frame, hugely outnumbered by English troops and forming four schiltrons – formations of large groups of soldiers holding long pikes pointing outwards, making a “giant hedgehog” effect.

These schiltrons held firm as English cavalry swept in from the east (right of the picture) but then were cut down as Edward deployed his archers instead. The soldiers in the schiltrons, undefended from the falling arrows, had no way to escape and the battle was rapidly won by the English.

Wallace, while a great leader of guerilla armies, appears to have had little understanding of how to win a set-piece battle. He fled, possibly hiding out in a rock structure near the River Avon now known as the “Wallace Arch”. I’ll revisit that in a future photo of the day. Wallace’s right-hand man, Sir John de Graham was killed – his tombstone is still able to be viewed at Falkirk Trinity Kirk. Edward’s army raided Perth, St Andrews and towns in Ayrshire, but was back in England by September.