© 22 June 2019
Historians make two [i] kinds of errors. Procedural errors and errors of insight. The primary, procedural error is the belief - stated to me with all the gravitas at his command - by Professor Barrow, that nothing can be proved about Bannockburn: the site of main battle, other sites, the road, the strategy and tactics, the training (if any), the numbers of adversaries, the nature of the ground: a map was 'impossible, too much changed in seven centuries.' Thus, there was no concerted effort at any time to collect all the sources or to deal with the question: how can these be used most successfully? Since no one ever collected them, what to do with them was never an issue. There is a fundamental error in all of this. That what is past is past and no one can know anything about it. Especially when it is an event that occurred seven centuries ago. All historians can do is speculate.
Not so! This research proves it time and again. If you do collect all the sources and get them translated, you can count every statement pro and con every issue (EVERY ISSUE!) and tabulate the results, one of which is the date assigned to the source and its conditions of writing (if relevant). In the issue of Scottish cavalry, seven sources [ii] tell us that, in the main battle, the Scots were all on foot, even the king. Most date from 1314 (as Professor Watt, for one, stated about some of them [iii]). Against this, was a single source, John Barbour, who wrote between 1375-1378, over sixty years later. That weight of sources on one side and the late date of the single source against, compared with the closeness to the event of the others, is utterly compelling. It is impossible [iv] to believe now that Scottish cavalry were involved in the main battle. The Scots were all on foot.
Thus, there, in one new procedure in the year 2000, was the first important insight in seven centuries. Note: Barrow still has a Scottish cavalry charge on p296 of his Classic edition published in 2013!, and they scatter the archers! Shown to be impossible. Bannockburn Revealed (BR) p254 & Ch 12. Barrow had read BR, Bannockburn Proved (BP) and The Genius of Bannockburn (GB) where seven sources, half of them written within days of the battle, said every Scot was on foot! (GB p31,32) He ignored them all and preferred Barbour, who wrote over sixty years later than 1314. One may sympathise with a professor who makes a mistake but when the compelling evidence has been around for 20 years in three different books, all of which he has read, and he refuses to learn, that is desperate for the country. It defames the concept of the Scottish history professor. Yet he is the one everyone believes is the expert. The one applied to because he is supposed to know what ground must be protected.
The immediate question is: why were the Scots all on foot? Progress in discovering the history depends upon finding answers to such questions. In this case, there are several: The Scots were on the Dryfield, which they had held successfully the day before, very easily, because the only road from Falkirk to Stirling in 1314 had to cross the Bannock burn into the Dryfield via Milton Ford, the only crossing place for a mile up and downstream, because of escarpments on both sides (especially downstream) and trees all along the banks of the burn and even a steep drop to the burn in many places, on one side or the other, of six feet or more: too much for a horseman in armour who falls and must remount. Since the Dryfield is a natural fortress, with escarpments and woodland (obvious even today), it was easily defended at the Ford, which was Scotland's Thermopylae [BR p366-368; p418-420, 377; BP p34; p31-36, 38-40-41; 64-67; GB p203-2011, 212-214; 215-222 (where Bruce killed de Bohun [v]) photos and maps galore] a bottleneck only a few English at a time could cross, with a fine flat area about 25-30 yards from the burn before the road began to wind right and then left to ascend the escarpment on the N side. The Scottish defence of the road had to take place in that area on the N bank. English cavalry were in the van, because travelling faster than their infantry, and were easily repulsed by Scottish pikemen, in a semicircle between the Ford and the escarpment. [vi] Thus, it was inevitable that the Scots would retain the Dryfield on the first day and also that the English would camp in the Carse of Balquhidderock. Note: That the English camped in the Carse, as Barbour tells us, means the Scots held the Dryfield (Barbour: XII, 390-395), but Barbour tells us that too, (XII, 25+, 130+ and Scalacronica 53-54, Brut y Tywysogyon p123 et al). That was where they were accustomed to camp and where, Vita 51, they had arranged to camp. And, most important, the English cavalry took the best places to camp, just out of bowshot of Balquhidderock wood which was on a steep slope, eager for individual glory in the obvious, expected, foxhunt of rebels the next morning; and proceeded to get drunk: 'Drinkhail and Wassail' [Le Baker, 8; BR p196] were soon the prevailing activities of the cavalry, while their infantry, archers and all the wagons (miles of them) and hangers-on, gradually arrived to find places for themselves behind the cavalry. Overconfidence of the English was so high that there was little organisation, command or control, difficult in any case, but worse here because the King, his retinue and commanders were on the Knoll, a sixty foot high mound, a quarter mile by an eighth in the centre of the Carse. What was the Carse? A flat area, about a mile long, and a thousand yards wide, tapering towards the centre in front of the Knoll (where there is a pond [vii]) and bounded by the Bannockburn in the S and the Pelstream in the N. What was in between? On this day, 24th June 1314, the very flat ground had many pools of water, some 100 yards long and a yard deep, in the undulations [Photos BR, 14-19, p327; p350-359; BP, p33-37,44-46, 50,60,61,67; GB p136-140]. Two sources tell us this. Barbour XII, 395, BR p350 and Brut y Tywysogyon [viii], p123, GB p159 (the first is confirmed by the second, which bears the date 1314, a few weeks after the battle). This Carse has always been like this, as every worthy map back to the first, Roy's, (1750) shows: the road having to zigzag around the pools [GB red 6-9, 12; p136-140, esp 138-139]. Bruce knew in advance that this was going to happen: he would defend the Dryfield, the English cavalry would be easily repulsed and go off to camp, as so often before, in the Carse, out of bowshot [ix] of Balquhidderock Wood.
The question asked above can now be answered. The Scots were all on foot because on horseback they could not descend Balquhidderock Wood to attack the English in their camp unless they did: horses cannot get down steep slopes through woodland without falling and getting in each other's way. But more important, what good would Scottish cavalry be against far bigger, better trained, English cavalry when there were likely to be three or four thousand [x] of them to 500 Scottish light cavalry? Scottish cavalry was a useless asset in the circumstances. So what did Bruce do to deal with this problem?
Many people have approved of my books: Bannockburn Revealed (BR), published 2000, Bannockburn Proved (BP), published 2004/5 [xi], The Genius of Bannockburn (GB) published 2012, The Genius Summary, (GS) 2012, Bruce's Genius Battle (BGB) 2013, Bannockburn: The Poem (BTP) 2014. But some have been critical of my pointing out the errors in historians' work because it made acceptance by historians less likely. The fact is, it would have made no difference. Beside my books, all theirs look stupid because they made no progress. [xii] In the year 2000, they all believed that 6,000 Scots beat 20,000 English because of a cavalry charge of Scots that chased the English archers from the field and that the battle was fought where Barrow sited it, on the Dryfield. Only Christison, who agreed with them about numbers, put it in the Carse and he proved nothing, even made mistakes with sources (Vita, BR p86 para 4) which did not help. How could he [xiii] prove anything in a paper of 10 pages? The only other [xiv] historian of note was Mackenzie who put the battle down near the R Forth, as if the English would camp down there in an Oxbow, nearly two miles from the Scots on the Dryfield, and as if they would not have wanted the glory of the foxhunt of rebels and been close to get started! The English feared nothing so much as the idea that the Scots would escape and deprive them of glory. Every knight lived for it, spent his life training for it. Unaware of the Pelstream, Mackenzie put the English down in an Oxbow, so that they could be imprisoned there! As if their intention. Impossible. The battle then made sense to him, for he had forgotten the Pelstream.
What none of them see is that historians have never believed proof possible. In twenty years of my books, which are full of proofs, they have never mentioned the word, as if it is anathema. Thus, if I were to ignore their errors, because they think it is a matter of opinion, they would think theirs is better than mine because they have titles and status I do not. I know it is not a matter of opinion because I proved it. Many minds, far abler than any historian's, have agreed. But no historian of this event has any experience of proof: never saw one, never made one, never tried to make one. What has happened over the centuries is that not only is proof taken to be impossible, but historians have adopted a culture of not correcting the errors of those in control. A defence by those in control to protect their speculations, all they were ever capable of. This is why some of the appalling mistakes in their books have been unchallenged for over half a century. How does it work, this culture? It is just not done to challenge the work of historians in control. To do so, is to court refusal of degrees, honours, publication, awards and jobs. Burial, in brief. In a recent report of 2016 on the conference about Bannockburn in 2014, [xv] Cowan, for the first time in any history book, mentions mine (after nearly twenty years). He accuses me of lambasting historians. Cowan was the judge of the Saltire Research Award in 2005 when Bannockburn Proved (BP) was entered for it, but Cowan did not read it as he showed to supporters of my books who read an article on the battle he published in a booklet produced by the Scotsman a couple of years later. They were very angry! For he could not even draw a modern map of the battle: had Gillies Hill south and not west of Coxet Hill and still had a Scottish cavalry charge that defeated the English archers, despite my proving that the Scots all fought on foot on BR p254, in the year 2000, the best advance ever made in seven centuries, BP p xxvi, xxviii footnote 45, xliii-xliv. When I taxed him with this, he turned to me, with a face red with shame, and said: 'Who reads everything?' He should have resigned as judge. He had missed the best book on the subject in seven centuries. Why should he not be lambasted? It would be a crime not to do so! How are things ever going to improve if he is not lambasted? He ought not to have been a judge; should have disqualified himself. BP has several proofs of the battle site and they are all utterly compelling, as many have stated BP p19-67; 69-77; 83-88. So has BR Bannockburn Revealed where they are rated for compulsion and many are alpha plus: proofs. BR Ch 19 p265-289. The proofs in GB are the best, several of them. All the sources are combined with the fully justified map. It is obvious that no historian has yet read GB, even the proofs. Still less, the justification of the map. There is too much work in it for any of them. In time, better minds will take the trouble.
What I intend to do here is to list all the errors in the recent books, explain them and why they were made and, if possible, how such errors can be avoided in future. The short answer is that historians need to develop the kinds of skills necessary to solve problems of this kind. No progress in this subject (Bannockburn) and others no doubt, has been made because of the literature being inundated with errors of reasoning. What we are going to see again and again are decisive insights [DI] which combine to prove conclusions. Focus on these. You can, at least in principle, become a poet by reading great poetry often, hearing its music and feeling and understanding its sentiments: and try to do it yourself. Great effort and much practice are likely to make you a poet, of a kind, at least. The same with this. You make decisive insights by looking for them, savouring them when found, anybody's. They have an objective value we can all enjoy. It is like a child learning chess. Your experience is transformed by noticing the intense beauty of some sequences of moves: a queen sacrifice, say, followed by mate in four or five. Soon, you look for nothing else: it is not enough to win the game; you seek to do it with beauty, style, economy. Besides making false statements, historians have a discernible penchant for dealing with objections to their work by throwing off a trifling riposte as if it is good enough. Often, it is just a noise, has no value whatever. All it does is save the historian from having to think. Because of his status, he does not believe he has to deal with it properly. Watson's response to an objection that the Roy maps showed things differently to hers, was: 'Roy's were not meant to be accurate.' Roy led sixty soldiers around Scotland making maps for about ten years. The map of Bute is almost indistinguishable from a modern OS map nearly three centuries later. Her statement was obscene. She [xvi] knew nothing about them; was just making a noise, as if it was good enough to answer the challenge. What they are interested in is dominance, not truth. Any lie will do if it gets them out of a hole. Far better to say: I do not know. And when an error is made: apologise.
Why errors have been made and what they are is important. It makes us see how to rate the work of the future, not be taken in by the gravitas of professors whose main concern is their status and authority. History professors, I assert, should always respond to challenge by calm, pure reason and references. Never by pulling rank, still less by stupidity masquerading as knowledge. A willingness to learn, no matter the teacher, is fundamental to scholarship.
Consider BR p45. 'It is not absolutely impossible that the intention (of Bruce) was to lead the Scottish pikemen right up to the English lines of cavalry.' (B) (made in the year 2000)
This is not a proof. But it is an invaluable insight in answer to the question: if the Scots are all on foot, what ought they to do? Why? Because there is less ground for the horses to get up speed, (A) the sentence just before. That should save Scottish lives.
What extras must be found to make a proof? We need to understand what form the Scottish defence against the cavalry charge would take. How would the men be deployed? How would they be armed? What documentary sources tell us that this was Bruce's intention? And that it worked? How would it be commanded? Even, how would you train for this? Yet, we are not far from a proof. We need to find the sources that tell us. There are four. GB Ch XII has them. For seven centuries, historians believed these sources when they said that the Scots (under the eye of the English commanders up on the Knoll, 60 ft high [xvii]) knelt to pray. As if praying right before the battle was worthwhile! But they were all clergymen. They took kneeling to mean praying. Not so! Kneeling was the way to defend against a cavalry charge. GB rear cover, Ch 12. Each man gave a dunt to the pike at his right heel and sloped it over the shoulders of those in front. A foot or two between each to aim the pike, but otherwise bunched. Then 14 pikes (of about 15ft) hit each equine tank, 7 each side. It was like hitting a tree trunk: 14 times an inch and half is nearly two feet wide. Because the Scots were close, the cavalry were hardly out of a trot. No contest. They were stopped dead in their tracks, cavalry no longer. No wonder Scottish lives were saved: only two knights slain. What has happened here is that mistakes made by reporters (3 of them present) at the battle have been corrected! That is a miracle. That is why Bruce took his men very close to the cavalry and what he did when he reached the place. The English were too overconfident, drunk, asleep and surprised to be able to do anything about it. There was no command and control because not deemed necessary. 'Scottish peasants? What could they do?' How very stupid of all those historians for seven centuries not to realise that the Scots would not kneel to pray under the eyes of the enemy. They had to be doing something useful to win. They were! Setting their pikes.
All of these things are shown in the books. There are lots of proofs in BR, though the use of the word was not adopted there. Any argument there rated alpha plus is a proof: impossible to believe the contrary. Here is the first use of it in BP pxxv. An elementary proof, in one sentence, for a beginner: 'The main Battle of Bannockburn took place in the Carse of Balquhiderock because the Scots who held the Dryfield of Balquhiderock attacked at dawn and surprised the English in their camp.'
The proof consists of a few premises:
Since these statements are obviously true to anyone with sufficient knowledge, the matter is already determined. For anyone else, the second level of proof is on the next page where 4 other things are proved: Did the Scots hold the Dryfield? (Anyone knows this, victory impossible otherwise, Barbour, Scala, et al). Did the English camp in the Carse? (Barbour and Brut y Tywysogyon tell us they did). Could the Scots attack the English in the Carse? (Yes, if they all went on foot) Did the Scots attack the English when they were still in their camp? (Scalacronica 55 tells us: yes: They 'mounted in great alarm'). The next pages xxvi - xxx have all the answers. [xviii] The short answer is that the Scots held the Dryfield because it was a natural fortress, easy to defend at Milton Ford and English efforts by Clifford and Beaumont's 800 cavalry to outflank the Scots were defeated by Moray, as Barbour and Scalacronica et al tell us. More powerful proofs occur later in BP, as referenced above.
Here is another. Where was the road across the Bannock burn in 1314? Historians have never understood this in seven centuries. There is one essential question: when was the first bridge across the burn? 1516, [xix] built by Robert Spitall, tailor to the King. Why would Spitall build a bridge, at his expense, if there was one already? (A point we return to). This bridge is down a steep hill from the first village at Bannockburn, about 80 yards upstream from Telford's bridge (1819).
What did people do before that bridge? They crossed at the ford, Milton Ford, about three quarters of a mile upstream from Spitall's. The burn is impassable for about a mile up and downstream because of escarpments, woodland and banks of over six feet on one side or the other, fatal to horsemen; and a horse and cart, essential for moving goods. The road from Falkirk can be seen on Jefferys' map of 1746 of the Battle of Falkirk. It curves through Torwood and at Snabhead on the top of the hill, Stirling Castle comes into view. The road to the Castle is an almost dead straight line, except that it must curve to the Ford and then curve back again onto the straight. The clinching fact is that the Kirk was built on St Ninians Main Street in 1242 [xx] and the road went along that street. Because there was only one road from Stirling south to Falkirk until 1930 and it always went along St Ninians Main Street. Where did the road across Spitall's Bridge go in 1516? In a wide curve across to the R Forth, through Airth and curving back to Falkirk. [See Jefferys map on GB p74]. How do we know there was no bridge in 1314 where there is one today (Milton Bridge)? We do not: evidence lost in a fire. But the south bank is about thirty feet higher than the north bank which made it the worst place to try and bridge. The historian eager to throw dirt now says exultantly, as if in triumph: but you can't prove this. I do not need to! If there was a bridge there in 1314, Bruce would have burnt it, destroyed it for sure. Then there would only be one route: across Milton Ford. His defence there was elementary; success guaranteed. So Milton Ford definitely is where Bruce killed de Bohun. At the Ford, N bank. But the probability that there would have been a bridge in the middle of nowhere miles from Stirling and Falkirk, after twenty years of warfare, in 1314, with no one to maintain it, is zero. The road is dealt with in BR p359-368; 377-378. BP red 4-18; GB p198-222; 223; 344. There was only one road. It went along St Ninians Main Street in 1242 beside the Kirk. So the English came along that road. (How do we know they did? Because they thought it was their road! Why ever would they not use that road, the only road? They were even late and in a hurry: of course they used the road.) Thus Bruce defended it at Milton Ford, the only bottleneck, where a few English knights at a time could cross over. The ideal place. QED! (as mathematicians say, following Euclid) Three sources confirm it, not that they are needed.
BP has a proof with 25 conclusions (proved before) listed on p64-67 of the site of main battle. Its status as a proof is also shown. There is another proof on p83-88. GB has even more proofs, Chs 8,9,10 (p273-286) some very long and complete, answering every possible objection, and others which quote independent sources several at a time which are utterly conclusive. GB Ch VI is essential in demolishing the false translations of Duncan and Barrow: Pulis = pools! Polles = pools! Barrow's theory about pows being streams, as if it could be anything but pools has no evidence whatever and no sign of any acquaintance with the many places listed by him in Robert Bruce (3rd ed 1988, p212; 4th ed 2005, p277; Classic ed 2013, p277). He made his theory in a library and assumed that 'pol' was an old Celtic word [xxi] meaning stream. Not so! Pol means pool, just as pow means pool. A careful reading of this passage (long overdue!) in these editions should be a revelation to every historian. There is no evidence whatever for it. Progress is still held up! And may continue to be held up for years to come, Maybe even forever! Pow, pol, pul, pal, polle all mean pool. Why ever would they not? How could they possibly mean stream? There is always along with them another word 'burn' or rarely, 'stream'. Polharrow burn, would have to mean 'stream-harrow-stream': a tautology! Pleonasm it is called. People do not make such mistakes over and over again! There are hundreds of streams with pol in the name. The very idea that pol could mean stream is idiotic! A level of stupidity that ought to be impossible. Should I be saying this? Of course! Barrow was well-liked. He even got a festschrift. [xxii] But these mistakes are catastrophes. They held up progress for half a century! That is intolerable! He got away with it for so long because no one challenged his work. When I did, he buried mine and refused to discuss the issues. The research that proves it (this) is still buried and may remain buried forever! That is how bad this is!
There are many photos taken on the ground, in my books, visited many times, GB Ch VI is full of them, which establish this completely. Easy to show. Polmoodie burn about ten miles NE of Moffat NT 172143 Explorer 330 comes from two sources in a col between two, 2,000 ft, mountains, GB p175,176. In summer, the water table falls between the mountains and when it gets below the sources, the burn dries up and becomes pools. The 'pol' conveys this fact. Polharrow burn NX567865 Exp 318 comes out of a loch, Loch Harrow GB p171. In summer, the level of the loch falls. When it falls below the exit level of the burn, the burn dries up: hence pol conveys the fact that Polharrow burn is reduced to pools. GB Ch VI proves this (and a lot more) in about sixty pp with photos. A third paradigm case is seen at Pulwhinnrick burn NX 118379 Exp 309 at Kilstay, GB p178-9, Rhynns of Galloway, a peninsula in the Solway with no hills to provide water pressure. There is one very large pool in the burn with not enough movement to cross the foreshore in ordinary weather. Water is absorbed in the sand. However, an exhaustive paper, yet unpublished, deals with almost every instance in Scotland showing that pol = pow = pul= pal = polle = pool in every case.
Thus, Barrow's speculation without a shred of evidence that pol means stream has been shown to be false. GB has many examples with photos, places galore, arguments conclusive. That really is evidence.
Note: the 60 pp Ch VI GB can be replaced by a proof with six lines of text. Even so, it must stand as it is illuminating. However, the six line proof is important. Economy is a worthy aim. The effort to find elegant arguments continues. No point in sending my papers to Scottish journals. Dishonesty and indecency is rife and anyone can see why. They think only of themselves; the truth is hurtful to them. None of them understand any of this. They probably will not believe it. Why? Because they were brought up to believe the speculations of those in control. The culture of the Scottish History Community is subservience to authority. The idea that these things can actually be investigated and understood fully and exhaustively has been educated out of them. The other thing their 'work' reveals is the utter absence of anything resembling adequate effort. Scholarship is hard. Pause and consider what the foregoing means. It never occurred to Barrow that he had to give evidence for his speculation that pol is a word meaning stream! That is a catastrophe! And when evidence against it was given (by me) all he tried to do was bury it. Get all the books that proved it withdrawn from Oxfam where they were selling for a fiver! Why did I give away so many copies of GB free to Oxfam? At least 250. Because it was my duty to try to overcome the stupidity of historians. I have by now investigated in maps almost every relevant case and very many on the ground, often many times. There are no cases where pol means stream! None whatever. Or pow or pal or pul or polle. They all mean pool! How could Barrow be right? Why did no historian correct this error half a century ago? When the book was on their shelves? When there was no evidence of any kind? Why was the book not read critically? Duncan gave a glowing review of Barrow's book in SHR. It was insane to think that a word like 'pulis' could mean stream but Duncan translated it that way in Barbour's Bruce. [xxiii] Absolutely crazy! Anyone who thinks after this that historians' errors should not be pointed out and corrected, must be delighted to see no progress in Scottish History, for that is what it means. The Scottish History Community must be reformed. It is not a collegiate society for the discovery and propagation of the truth about our history, it is a protection racket to bury the work of anyone who discovers and tells the truth! This is at least the case in the Bannockburn subgroup, as I know them. The truth is not what those in control want. Only what supports their speculations. The truth is the last thing they want! To this day, it is very likely, none of these historians have read BR, BP, GB and the other three that follow, each of which have advances. Or even, that they will ever do so. They are not used to so much work or having to think. That is a measure of the effort to perform this investigation and write it up and publish it.
Note. Many people must have seen Barrow going around in a panic in case someone actually read The Genius of Bannockburn. It should have been impossible for him to get the books withdrawn from Oxfam. That is a scandal and it must never happen again! That is how to get important discoveries into the public domain where they can be used for the good of the country, when the folk affected who have made all the mistakes want them buried: Offer them to Oxfam free. That Barrow succeeded in getting them withdrawn by Oxfam and the Saltire Society and The Society of Antiquaries and The National Trust for Scotland and even the Royal Society of Edinburgh, is a disaster. All these organisations need to mend their fences. Will they? Probably not. Somehow, he got the message spread that this book must not be read. Remember what Fiona Watson said about BR circa 2002: 'we don't mention that book.' Why ever not? It was the best book on Bannockburn in seven centuries. Go and read it and you will understand! She never did read it. It would have taken her too long to digest and absorb. It was above her intellectual level. Many able laymen have read it more than once and enjoyed it; some several times, so that it is in tatters. They get copies for nothing, then.
Barrow makes many important errors in his Robert Bruce and elsewhere. We have just seen one of them. Pol is not an old Celtic word meaning stream. Barrow: Robert Bruce p211-212, 3rd ed; p277, 4th: 'The streams were known by the Celtic word pol ('pow' in later Scots) which applied to burns….Polmaise, Cockspow, Drypow, Powdrake, Powside, Powbridge, Pow Burn…Polmaise… means 'sluggish stream in the plain,' … Nonsense! Polmaise means a pool of fish (often herring), the pool being beside the R Forth where the fish can be kept alive for use. If you lived there, that is the kind of thing you would have above all! There is a right hand bend in the river which naturally carries all the fish into one place. You could collect them and keep them there for use throughout the year. See Red 10 GB. Pow means pool. The most common example is not those above but Powmill. There are several Powmills in Scotland. Why? Because there was a mill and the miller wanted people to know that even when the stream dried up, in summer, the mill could still operate. So people would still come to him with grain to be ground. How? Because he had dug a reservoir (pool) upstream, which would run the mill for hours when necessary, even when the stream was not flowing. I went to them all, (all the places Barrow mentions and far more) more than once. To Drypow several times over the years because it is a borderline case, with hidden depths to be understood. Where is the Drypow? I once asked the owner ten years ago. He showed me exactly where the pool was, (Red 10 GB, beside the Forth, low left) when it existed, which it does regularly. There was no stream or line of a stream anywhere in such dead flat ground. The question: why is it a pool only some of the time? exercised me for years. Recently, I understood. You should be able to see that I have visited these places many times. Drypow is on Roy's map. No sign of a stream. A huge bog, after much rain, would decant briefly into the R Forth half a mile away and then stop. Fences had been put up to keep cattle from getting enmired. See the map: Red 10 in GB, Drypow is shown near Skeoch Bog and R Forth: the 3rd building, right. There is no stream anywhere nearby, on any map. The ground is dead flat, so there is no water pressure to drive a stream which would have to come from hills three miles away.
So there is a place to begin: before a historian writes pages like those referred to in Barrow's book, he must not just give a long list of examples; Drypow, Cockspow, Powdrake, Powmill… and assert that they all refer to a stream without any evidence. None of them mean that. What is truly pitiful is that since 1965 when Barrow wrote his theory, his books in their various editions have been on every historian's shelves! And this is all wrong and no one ever noticed! Half a century of rubbish which actually holds up progress. Duncan, another Scottish professor, swallowed Barrow's mistakes and translated 'pulis' as streams in Barbour's Bruce in 1998. That was a catastrophe! The two professors together exercised a united front against criticism and the demand for evidence. However, it was never voiced! Had it been, there would have been a debate and signs of it. And Duncan's appalling error of translation was never questioned in 1997! Because of the culture of not challenging or correcting historians' errors. Their work was assumed to be above question and actually dangerous to risk causing offence for men anxious about their careers.
The word 'polles' appears in Brut y Tywysogyon on p123 in the Peniarth Ms. 20 version where Prof Thomas Jones of the University of Wales translated it as 'pools' in 1952. Barrow ignored this translation. [Why did he think he was superior to Jones in medieval Welsh? How could he be? How could he translate 'y gyfranc en y Polles' [xxiv] even if 'Polles' is not medieval Welsh but Norman French? Barrow had a duty to explain his difference from a clearly superior source. He did not bother.] Another catastrophe! It says the battle took place among the pools. See a copy of the very page on GB p159. Note: Jones looked for a Scottish source in Mackenzie; not good. I produced far better reasons in GB p161-168. Barbour tells us the English camped among the pools. Since GB p146 shows that the Carse is unique in having regularly formed pools after rain in the undulations because it is enclosed, unlike the others, a proof of the site of battle is immediate from these three sources alone. Many others combine to give it greater force but these are sufficient. Brut y Tywysogyon was written in 1314, soon after the battle. Barrow's mistake (about pol being pow and stream) is pure speculation. No evidence, no sign of acquaintance with any of the places. He told me he had spent two days at Bannockburn and he thought that a lot. This tells us he spent no time at all at any of these places, for it would have taken him a day each to reach them. They all came off a map or a list in a book and he knew nothing about them. Look at this closely. Barrow and Duncan get together and decide that pows = pols = pulis = streams. Nobody is strong enough to query it. Yet it cries out to be questioned! And, according to Cowan (who is however untrustworthy, as seen: will massage the 'truth' for his own ends) some historians thought pulis did mean pools, (as any Scottish child should realise). But no cries of objection were heard! From 1965, Barrow's mistaken speculation, which had never had the slightest investigation or evidence at any time was effectively unchallenged. [xxv] Duncan followed him and by 1997 had even translated Barbour's Bruce Bk XII line 390-395 'Tharfor thai (the English) herberyd thaim that nycht doune in the Kers, and gert all dycht. And maid redy thar aparaill Agayne the morn for the bataill, And for in the Kers pulis war.'on p466
As: ' So they (the English) lodged that night down in the Carse, and had everyone clean and make ready their equipment before morning, for the battle. And because there were streams in the Carse.'
A mistake as diabolical as that for so long a time deserves the most careful consideration. How is it to be prevented in future? Hiding its existence is absolutely the wrong thing to do. It was a catastrophe that held up progress in the subject and when the truth came out in BR, BP, and GB, it was buried by them and their followers who did their bidding, as usual, for the usual reasons: loss of awards, degrees, funding for research, jobs, honours. They controlled all that and no other professor was powerful enough to challenge it. One way to proceed is to make sure this is common knowledge. Then if it happens again, quieter professors might challenge it and be damned to the effects upon their careers and honours. If Barrow and Duncan are successful in burying the work in BR, BP, GB, as many historians would like because they have been educated to think that way, it means that Scottish Medieval History cannot progress. Mistakes and the dishonesty that goes to any lengths to conceal them, will ensure that the subject is moribund. Historical scholarship in Scotland, cannot progress so long as catastrophes like these are inevitable! The truth and honesty must prevail, once again, if it ever did. Nonsense by professors must be challenged even if they conspire to make it. Of course this is inconvenient when none of them know how to deal with sources or maps or have any talent for the thousands of insights necessary for a full understanding.
One of the horrors of attending the annual meeting of the Society of Antiquaries, mainly archaeologists, was to hear a lecture to a thousand people declare that nothing had been discovered whatever. Everyone laughed. An hour had been spent, a thousand travelled to hear it and (because of rigour, was the assumption) nothing new could be asserted. As if that was a fitting conclusion. All these self-important people did not care that their speaker and associates had spent a lot of time and money and achieved nothing whatever. As if it is a game people amuse themselves with to seem important.
The culture of not challenging those in control of the subject must be destroyed. The refusal of publication of papers, books and reviews of them for spurious reasons must be abolished, especially where a single referee is involved. The assumption in history that someone from another kind of life has nothing to offer and should not be read but dismissed, should be given up, for, in this case, it is the very fact that my life has been engaged with mathematics, philosophy and psychology that I have found it possible to do what no historian could do in seven centuries. Worst of all, is the assumption, the well embedded snobbery, that a schoolmaster like me is not worth reading. Schoolmasters have a long history of creative success. Karl Weierstrass was a maths teacher in a school like me. He became a star a mathematician of world class, celebrated in all the textbooks as the founder of Analysis. Alexander Solzhenitsyn was another maths teacher. Einstein could not get a job teaching and ended up in the Patent Office, Berne. Ramanujan did not pass his university exams and was deemed unemployable, yet GH Hardy, one of the finest mathematicians in the world at that time, thought him in the same class as Isaac Newton. Snobbery about school masters is outrageous. Their very different experience and insight is what every historian lacks. The only people who can provide progress in history are the outsiders who alone are unprejudiced and honest to a fault, in most cases. That I should have been asked to co-author a book with Prof Sir Hermann Bondi, Master of Churchill College, shows that my school mastering was exceptional. I also used to attend lectures with Michael Atiyah at conferences. Some of which he gave. Snobbery has no place in scholarship. You ask: am I in their class, any of the above? Of course I do not think so. It does not matter. What matters is that I have solved the Bannockburn Problems, the first to do so in seven centuries. A fair number of very able people agree, some of them historians, some of them abler than any historian. Why don't I wait for the History Community to announce this? Because they have shown themselves over the years to be selfish, mean spirited, obstructive and tied to their well embedded prejudices that the problems cannot be solved, certainly by an outsider like me. That precisely was the objection to Ramanujan: 'you are not one of us. You could not do it.' Most of them will not have read the books BR,BP,GB and, being no better equipped than Barrow, such books would not be easily read by them, though many non-historians have understood them fully. Yet many will not deign to read them because they would rather not leave the comfort zone of their own prejudices. They enjoy playing at Bannockburn, even though they know very little about it. It is hugely inconvenient to some of them that the problems have been solved. They would rather they were not. So they won't read the books and will make no announcement about their value and importance.
What does a historian learn to do? Mainly, it is to write narratives about events in history, often repeating what has been believed and written before. Why else, are there thousands of books about Bannockburn which do not differ? They all regurgitate the same rubbish. No wonder ꟷwhen books that start from first principles as any scientist should and solves the problems, having spent years making a map, assembling every relevant old map, book and paper, and visiting the ground for years, several hundred times and travelling all over the country, investigating related matters, also the work of years ꟷthat they get lost among the mass of half-baked books full of all the usual false assumptions and mistakes. Nobody bothers to make a proper map and justify it [The very idea that you ought to do this, is deeply original!] or visit all these places Barrow had names for but never understood or visited himself. Nobody really tries to understand the events in time and space on the ground. Time and again, Barrow & Co do not understand how everything in a two day battle is connected and one thing leads to another. But a lot of the failure is lack of sufficient effort. Of course you have to understand the entire battle area (not just part of the Pelstream, which Barrow got wrong because he never looked hard enough). Having all the elevations and ridges on the map, which is very accurate and rigorous, is marvellous! These alone are enough to disprove all that folly of Barrow and Duncan. Wait and see.
The fact is that historians are not taught to solve problems like the Bannockburn Problems because none of the professors knows how to go about it; have no idea of the effort necessary and that the investigation must be exhaustive. It takes many years, not two days, as Barrow thought. So that is another thing that must be changed: history students need to understand the procedures for solving problems. They need to see the proofs, all the various insights that led to the illumination. Especially, all the little arguments that resolve difficulties, people like Barrow could not understand. That is why this essay is worth writing. That Barrow could not see that shading in Roy's maps of Stirlingshire meant woodland and not, as he thought, high ground, is typical. If it were true, the top of Coxet Hill would be shaded. It is not! Only the base of the hill! QED. And there is a second example just below on the Dryfield. GB red 25 shows this. Roy shows slopes by parallel lines. They have to change if the slope changes. There are two separate areas of shading but the lines do not change. They slope right through both areas of shading. That means they show woodland. If the shading were high ground, two separate bits of high ground must have the slope changing from one to another! Because there was no really high ground anywhere there. Barrow's mistaken belief was his only criticism of BR in the year 2000. The only reason he gave for refusing to support my election to FRhistS. He had nothing to say about the huge progress made in that book that was beyond anything seen before in depth and rigour. So that mistake of his mattered!
There are worse errors by Barrow to highlight. We will get to them. Let us look at the earliest in p215, Robert Bruce 3rd ed. p214 para 3:'Bannok was the name of a place not of a stream. The stream' known as the Bannock Burn was named after the place, not the other way round.' His reference is to a charter of 1660. p368. No dates are given to his other citations. This is demolished by Roy's map BR plate 30b after p408. Bannock Burn is not even a place in 1750 when Roy made the map! Three houses, one of them down a steep slope beside the burn, 150 yards apart is not a place. The place in 1750 is at NewMarket (same map) where there are about a dozen houses on both sides of the street. Bannock Burn refers to the stream not the place. There is no place then. How could these three houses spaced out with Bannock Burn stretched right across half a mile of space, showing the burn, refer to a place? Newmarket is the place. What few realise (none of them historians) is that there is a reason why the village is at Newmarket in 1750 and not at what is today Bannockburn village. Red 23 GB, Plate 30b BR. Do you see how important this is? Because of what follows, we do not have to read any of Barrow's duff references to show that the battle took its name from the place for there was no place in 1314. Roy has shown us that there was not even a place there in 1750! Red 23 GB. Plate 30b BR. Notice that what Barrow would say, if he could, would be: 'Roy's maps were not accurate or even, Roy's maps were not meant to be accurate.' As we have seen already, Roy's maps are miracles of accuracy and details correctly recorded. But we can do better. We can go and look (which Barrow never did) at this place today and what we see is that the road shown by Roy across Spitall's bridge bends down left towards the bridge from the south (where Newmarket was). That bend is a very steep hill: GB p113, far steeper than this looks. What does it mean? Since there is no water on that steep hill or close to it, anyone in the two houses up that slope has to collect his water from the burn every day, twice a day, and carry it uphill. Think of it: carrying pails of water back and forth. Water weighs 62.4 lbs per cubic foot! The one house near the burn is not so badly off. But these two are terrible: carrying water, endlessly uphill. No wonder there are no others anywhere near in 1750. Not only was it difficult to build a house on such precipitous ground (go and look) there was no water anywhere except in the burn. That is why the village was at Newmarket, half a mile from the burn: it was flat there, so you could build easily and there was water there: a well and a stream, as the first OS map shows in 1865. The well is in the middle of the street between the houses; the stream crosses the street and goes through St Peter's well, another well. What we have just done is understand why Roy's map is accurate at that place. For centuries, it has been impossible to build houses on that slope down to the burn at Spitall's bridge because of the steepness. Only in the last ten years has it been attempted. Bannockburn only became viable as a village after Telford's bridge in 1819 overcame the problem of the steep escarpments on either side of the burn. Until then, there was no village there. Do you see how stupid it was to assume that Bannockburn was a village in 1314? Roy's map told us it was not a village in 1750. How did Barrow react to my criticism of his book? No reaction. Nothing to say. Just went along as before as if nothing had changed. Never changed anything in his book in its various editions. Barrow does have a few references which look as if there could be a place there in 1314. None of them refer to a place, only to the burn: the Bannock burn or just the Bannock. None of them have a date, which tells you they do nothing for his case, like all the rest. Roy's maps of Stirlingshire are brilliant. The detail alone tells you. It is terrific. Look at Halbert's Bog. Phenomenal! Why did he go to so much trouble? Because he could do so. Few people today, could do it; would have the patience, the eye or hand. His map of Bute is decisive: nearly identical to the best OS map. Here is another statement from Barrow's book:
'None of our three best early chronicle sources, the Life of Edward the Second, the Lanercost Chronicle and the Scalacronica, refers to the battle by name. even Barbour, whose account is much the longest we have, does not give it a name himself, although this is supplied in a chapter heading added much later.' Barrow, Robert Bruce, p215,3rd ed; 281, 4th. This is demolished in BR p84-89, which includes Bannockburn mentioned on the cover of BR which is a page from Scalacronica and on p87,88 BR where another is shown and three times on p 89 BR where pages from Lanercost are shown. Bannockburn is the name of the battle and it appears three times in Barbour. [xxvi] The name of the battle is mentioned on all but one of these sources and more than once. The author of the Life of Edward Second (Vita Edwardi Secundi) also means the Bannock burn. He just did not know the name of it. Why should he? He was a monk [xxvii] who had never been there before or ever again.
The battle took its name from the stream and not the place. See BR p212 which shows it clearly enough: 8 to 2. Trokelowe sited the battle on Bannokmora: the moor near the Bannock burn. By the moor, he means the Carse, the flat ground, the only such ground there is. He would not have a word in Latin for Carse. The concept did not exist then. Geography, the subject, was invented centuries later. He was right. So the score is actually 10-0 for the stream for Baker and Vita both have 'ditch' which is a stream, the Bannock burn, not a place. Notice that Barrow read all this in BR in the year 2000 and it did not change his mind. He did not see that his belief had been disproved: it was unreasonable to believe it thereafter. Why? Because Barrow was using his titles and clout to protect his 'work.' He thought he was above such trifles as evidence. His word was law. That is why he never did produce any evidence for anything [pol= stream = pow, both wrong, for example]. It never occurred to him to be necessary. And Barrow was a university professor teaching the historians of the future! That should never have happened. It must never happen again. Between the pair of them, Duncan and Barrow, pulis was wrongly taken to be streams (and not pools) and Polles was taken to be streams (and not pools).
Translate them correctly and Barbour says: the English camped in the Carse because of the pools [Bk 12 395] and Brut y Tywysogyon says: the battle was fought among the pools: ie in their Camp. [p123 Peniarth MS 20 version trans with notes by Professor Thomas Jones]
The site is instantly determined. Thus, the two mistakes by these two professors made the proof of the battle site unreachable. And when they saw their mistake, they buried the work and the messenger; tried to conceal the truth: it was too painful to admit their mistakes.
How did Barrow react to challenge? Nothing to say. Ignored the question as if it is irrelevant; refuses discussion. Even begins to respond by refusing to debate the issue, satisfied with whatever trifling reply he offers. His only interest is maintaining his authority, his status. The truth was of no interest to him, especially if he did not have it in his book. He did not think that he had any duty to answer the challenge, still less, to change the book to keep it free of error. So he was content for it to be read by thousands who were reading his mistakes as if they were getting the truth. Not good enough!
Two errors by Barrow are disastrous. One is in his Robert Bruce (3rd ed p205, 4th ed 270). See GB p160. This is a map of the battle area. Notice the five gaps in the streams shown in red in GB p160. These should not be present. What are they there for? To multiply the number of streams, for at that stage he is trying to argue that the area is an area of streams. By confusing them with the contours, he has made the map look as if it really is an area of streams. There is even a contour in dead flat ground south of Cockspow which has no business to be there and other lines just as mysterious. But focus on the five gaps. 8 pages further on, (p 213, 3rd ed; p279, 4th) the same map is shown again, except this time, there are no gaps. How could these two maps represent the same areas, as they do? The fact is, the first map should not have these five gaps. They are so mightily convenient to an author trying to prove that the area is an area of streams. Could these gaps happen by chance? Not a hope! They are deliberate! That is dishonest. Scholarship has no room for that offence. GB p160-167 show very clearly that the area is not an area of streams and, indeed, is remarkably free of streams compared with the other areas round about. Indeed, the Carse of Balquhidderock which has no streams in it, is an area of pools, regularly formed after heavy rain. Photographed on several occasions.
Anyone who has read this and has not absorbed the obscenity of the error committed, should read it again until he does. Progress in history cannot be made if things like that go unchallenged and uncorrected.
Another error by Barrow is in two maps in an article by Barrow in 'The Uses of Place-names and Scottish History' in a book edited by Simon Taylor. The maps show many streams and many place names. See them in GB p169,170. Barrow's assumption is that all these places received the syllable 'pol' in the place name because of the stream shown not far away. Instead, the maps show the complete opposite! Why should a place take its name from a stream when it is a decent fraction of a mile or more from it? In most cases, the stream would not be observable from the place because of hills, dips and trees between, but far worse, where there is a place, it is put there because there is water, the first requirement of any place, even a campsite. Why would anyone build a house a decent fraction of a mile from the nearest stream? He would have to carry water back and forth every day! These maps are so small that the scale is very large. Many of these places are miles from the nearest stream! How would anyone there even be aware of them? Probably, in many cases, they were not, not ever! What the places on these maps mean is that they were built there because of a pool that would supply water, especially valuable when animals must be watered easily. Humans would use it too initially.
Barrow's mistakes in his version of the map of the battle area are:
What this shows is that the map must be very accurate. Not perfect, but everything needs to be understood correctly. It must be justified. Barrow acted as if he never did understand this. He thought his maps were good enough. Not so! Since my map has been confirmed by others, the work of years, that makes it science, for it can be studied carefully and verified by anyone at any time who can read the justification. There are thousands of insights in it. If one or two were incorrect, they can be repaired. But they will make no appreciable difference. Nobody, in twenty years has made any correction. Few will have read all of it, because of the time and effort required. But it exists and will overcome the building allowed by the Council which goes on all the time, if it is in a place against the interests of the Scottish people, because, say, of the history. Given the superlative intellectual performance of the Scots at this battle, it is likely that they will one day demand that the battle area, or part of it, be returned to its state at the time of the battle, to increase understanding and appreciation.
How must the History Community (Bannockburn Group) avoid making mistakes in the future? The first thing is that the culture of not correcting the errors of 'great men and women' should be ended, destroyed, killed totally. Instead, challenging errors in the literature should be encouraged. And the challenges should be properly addressed by those involved. The failure to answer a challenge should be anathema. If there are disputes, they should be settled in debate or an exchange of views in writing which is public. Then, if a challenge has any mileage, it will be dealt with. A theory like Barrow's about pol = pow = polle = stream, would not stand up for a moment: someone would ask for evidence. Barrow would never have led the Community astray as he did for half a century by it, in that improved culture. He would himself have noticed that the lack of evidence must produce a challenge. It is appalling that neither he thought evidence necessary nor the others so much as suggested it was deficient. It would not have lasted half a century without challenge, if it had.
Another factor is the return of honesty to all statements. Telling lies, which has been seen to be a factor in all the errors here to protect those who made them, must be ended. Lies should be exposed and expunged. Scholarship demands, honesty and decency. Where it is absent, of course the challenger will realise that dishonour is in charge.
The philosophy of history should be a constant concern. What is happening in history? Being attempted? Is it credible, valid, illuminating? How does it relate to other forms of knowledge? All my books compared my conclusions with science. What new procedures can be devised to widen and deepen the extent of proof? What is the status of proofs in history? What good examples are there to study? What are the limitations of these procedures? In different areas of history?
A good place to start educating historians would be with the work of the four professors mentioned here: Barrow, Duncan, Watson and Cowan. Begin by analysing them and making them widely known so that every student understands what is now expected. The other articles herein convey the other errors well enough.
Can Watson and Cowan be expected to agree to this? They are not asked to. It is expected of them! Their feelings are of no importance beside the progress of the History Community. That comes first and they should see that. It is their own fault that they themselves are to be the subject of the study to make things better.
Note: What if none of these suggestions are carried out? Then the Scottish History Community (medieval group) will continue to make no progress. Both are very likely.
© William Scott, June 22, 2019.
[i] There is a third, even more fatal, discussed later, observed many times: dishonesty.
[ii] BR p254 (six) but also GB p31,32 which has seven.
[iii] In the preface to Scoticronicon. In fact there are better reasons than the authority of Watt. The documents themselves and, better still, the work of Sir F.C.Bartlett, FRS with Cambridge undergraduates. This tells you how to date sources in comparison to others, based on detail, transposition, conflation, omission and error.
[iv] But not for Professor Barrow. As late as 2013, in his Classic edition of his book Robert Bruce, he still has a Scottish cavalry charge p296/7, but 'the English cavalry was repulsed by mere foot soldiers,' p273. He still has not understood these seven sources which say that the Scots were all on foot. Unable to understand what did happen, he still wants to believe that the Scottish cavalry charge invented by Barbour was 'so fierce that the whole body of archers broke and fled.' P296/7. BR begins by showing that a charge of 500 Scottish cavalry, lightly armoured, if it had been attempted, would have been shot flat before it reached the archers. But it could not reach them because the English cavalry was in the way. Moreover, Scottish cavalry would not have reached the Carse from the steep wooded slopes that lie between the Scots on the Dryfield and the Carse. Even with the advantages of BR(2000), BP(2005) and GB(2010), he still does not understand the battle.
[v] De Bohun slain on N bank of Milton Ford, the first time shown, let alone proved, as here, in seven centuries. The space identified precisely and desecrated by building approved by Stirling Council in 2010.
[vi] How they were deployed was worked out fully in GB Ch XII. It is explained, briefly, hereafter.
[vii] Shown now and on every map right back to the earliest map of any value, Roy's c 1750, GB p97, where it appears as a thick black line in dead flat ground, just what it should be at about 1,000 yards to the inch. This map is brilliant. Only years with his maps reveal this. But there are important signs of it. Eg BP pxx, xxi, red 68,69,70, 71. GB 87-89 1.The disappearing stream near Cambusbarron: amazing that Roy shows, accurately a stream only a foot wide and an inch deep in ordinary weather that falls underground! 2.GB p 83 Newmarket, the one village in 1750 other than St Ninians. The last house on the SE is off the site line! That is what Roy saw! And take a look at Halbert's Bog, plates 31, 3 BR; red 6, 25, BP, p203 GB. That rendition is so detailed it has the size, shape, orientation and appearance of the surface: genius that is! Unimpressed? See Roy's map of Bute, plates 59 & 60, The Great Map, Birlinn 2007. Almost identical to a modern OS map. Roy did not have triangulation then! (He was the prime mover of it later.)
[viii] Peniarth MS 20 version published by Wales Univ Press, 1952, trans with notes by Prof Thomas Jones.
[ix] In expert hands, a long bow with a bodkin arrowhead could reach 400 yards with a 150 lb bow. See Prof Pratt's chart on p231 of Robert Hardy's book: Longbow. Even a 75 lb bow can shoot 310 yards. These are draw weights, not actual weights. Prof Pratt was a professor of Physics at Imperial Coll. London.
[x] There were in England at this time about 7,000 knights. Bannockburn was the biggest event in their lifetime, like a Scotland v England football match. Of course many of them would be present. Several were from Germany, some from Aquitaine and Pontieu, regions belonging to Edward II. Any knights allowed to go to the battle would go because of the chance for glory, like no other. They would not have missed it!
[xi] A copy of BP was lodged at the National Library in 2004. A paragraph on mining was added in 2005 to the second copy.
[xii] The only person to make progress is Lt General Sir Philip Christison, a general not a historian, in a paper in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries in 1956/57, Vol XC, number XI p170-179. 'Bannockburn: 23rd and 24th June, 1314. A study in Military History.
[xiii] He showed woodland and that was an advance. Every other historian has ignored it as if it were a modern invention. Not so! He also thought the battle occurred in the Carse. That was a first but he gave no compelling reasons. He did not see that the road of 1314 had to go across Milton Ford because the Kirk was built beside it on St Ninians Main Street in 1242. This defines the place of Bruce's defence of the Dryfield which was a natural fortress and where he slew de Bohun. Only the 50 and 100 ft contours were on the maps drawn for him which meant the precipitous escarpment on the north bank just south of the Ford was not noticed because it is only 34 ft high. Alas, he believed that 6,000 Scots beat 20,000 English, like everyone else, which, as a general, he might have been expected to see was at least unlikely. The C-P argument he would have understood had he seen it. His place of defence of the road was impossible, for it would have enabled the English to penetrate the Dryfield. A battle in the Carse the next day would then have been impossible.The English had to be able to get to the Carse easily to camp there, as arranged (Vita 51). The Ford had to be defended on the north bank and it is a perfect place for what occurred. Had the Scots defended Christison's line of ¾ of a mile in the Dryfield, the Scots would have lost because the English would have overcome them there: archers arriving and infantry. Because the defence was at the Ford, the cavalry attacked immediately and were repulsed easily, which made their move to the Carse immediate. Attacking the English in their camp in the Carse was essential to the Scots. The victory depended upon it: imprisoning them between the bounding streams in torrent, a torment for men in armour pursued by lightly armed Scots with hand axes. The cavalry, out of bowshot of Balquhidderock Wood, were easily halted by the set pikemen who were taken very close to cut down the space for the charge.
[xiv] Miller is, of course, a historian of note but his valuable work on the New Park (seen on GB p349) missed the fact that, to any arriving Englishman, the entry is Milton Ford. He failed to realise that the New Park is bounded by the Bannock burn in the south as far as the ford, though he did say that it is a boundary near Chartershall. Confirmed by an unusual fact: the New Park was fenced in, in 1289, by 2,200 yards of fencing: almost exactly the distance to fence the road from Milton Ford to St Ninians to keep travellers out of the park. The rest of it needed no fencing. BR 446 footnote 2 ie. Exchequer Rolls of Scotland Vol 1 pub 1878 p38; Rotuli Scaccarii 1288 on; it reads: Item, eisdem parcariis, racione noue, conuencionis facte cum eisdem ad faciendum cccc particatas palicii circa nouum parcum etc. A new contract with the park keepers 'to build four hundred rods of fencing around the New Park etc'. If a rod is 5.5 yards [Chambers Dictionary] this would be 2,200 yards. Note: the statement by Miller in SHR 1915 Vol XII p63 refers to 7,200 ft of fencing, which is a mistake. Miller has miscalculated the length. To the north, the New Park was bounded by the Pelstream, to the west by the severe ridge from the Bannock burn to Gillies Hill and by the burn as far as Milton Ford. At St Ninians Main Street, the fence would go as far as the Pelstream or the house south of it bordering it on Main Street. Like the Bannock burn in spate, the Pelstream would be a formidable torrent, impassable till the waters went down. Miller did not consider the fencing as being only on the road. In fact he did not wonder what it was that was fenced. The New Park did not need fencing because of the burn, the Pelstream and the ridge from the burn to Gillies Hill. Even if Miller's map of the New Park is correct, in terms of title deeds available to him, the ground to the south as far as the burn and the Ford would be taken by hunters in the Park as part of it, as well as by travellers on the road. Probably, some title deeds were missing, at least for the period up to 1314. The ground itself, about which we now know a great deal, is decisive on this issue. The English, for sure, would regard the beginning of the New Park as the Ford. That is what they are describing as the Scots in their wood, when first seen. Scala 53 'the enemy had blocked the narrow roads in the forest….the advanced guard… entered the road within the Park, where they were immediately received roughly by the Scots who had occupied the passage': Milton Ford N bank.
[xv] Bannockburn: Battle and Legacy, ed Penman, 2016
[xvi] Her map 'one', between pp 9,10 in her report on the site of the battle of Bannockburn shows the Pelstream rising in the Carse and Halbert's and Milton Bog each as a dot. Roy's are shown on BR plate 31. The detail in Roy's is phenomenal. His Pelstream rises on Gillies Hill, as it does. Her map 2 shows Bannockburn as a town in 1314. Roy shows it as not even a place in 1750, BR plate 30b. The place is at Newmarket. Three houses 150 yards apart south of the burn are not even a village in 1750. No one can call themselves a scholar who does not appreciate the absolute superiority of Roy's maps of Stirlingshire over any other of that place until OS 1865, and not even then.
[xvii] Barbour, Bk 12, 447-495 esp 484: 'yon folk kneel to ask mercy'; Vita 53: 'while they disputed in this fashion, and the Scottish forces were approaching rapidly'. And three others,
[xviii] Bannockburn Proved, Elenkus, 2004/5.
[xix] Stirlingshire: An Inventory of The Ancient Monuments, Vol II, 1963, art No 457 on p411/412, also known as the King James Bridge. Robert Spitall's name and the date is on the bridge.
[xx] Stirlingshire, Royal Commission Vo 1 p140, ibid; Lawrie's Charters no. CLXXXII; built on the site of an earlier kirk. GB p428
[xxi] It matters not whether pol is an old Celtic word, but Barrow did not show it. A guess, as usual.
[xxii] A book of essays by scholars in honour of someone.
[xxiii] Published by Canongate 1997 BK XII p467 line 395
[xxiv] Or 'gyfranc yn Pollys' in a different Ms.
[xxv] Cowan's review in Bannockburn: Battle and Legacy, Cowan, p235-238. ISBN 978-1-9977030-50-4, Shaun Tyas, 1 High St, Donington, Lincs PE11 4TA, published 2016
[xxvi] Why would the name of the battle have to be 'The Battle of Bannockburn'? Bannock burn is the name of the battle, the only name that applied in the district in 1314, Bannock burn: the name of the stream which made victory possible, because of the severe escarpments, wooded, cut by the stream, which made passage across it possible only at the Ford and which, after heavy rain, was a death trap to men in armour trying to escape across the burn. Roy's map tells us there was no place Bannockburn until after 1750, 1819, indeed, when Telford's bridge made a village viable when for the first time, a horse and cart could manage then to cross without difficulty, not before. That some ran the two words together after the battle means that for them, that day, there was a place: they lost a battle there or won it. They gave it the only name available: the name of the stream that caused all the trouble. No standard spelling then, not for centuries. The battle did not occur at any place known as Bannockburn: that place had no name in 1314. That place became The Carse of Balquhidderock, long after the idea of a Carse was formulated (no degrees in geography in 1314). The battle was named after the stream beside which, in a flat area, the battle was fought and into which so many Englishmen drowned or were killed crossing to escape back to England.
[xxvii] John Walwayn or the Monk of Malmesbury, near Gloucester, the earl of which was killed in the battle, causing the author much grief. He was an escheator who had to decide the transfer of the five earldoms. BR p58-60.