Bruce yourself: Battle of Bannockburn anniversary prompts series of films


THREE films about the Battle of Bannockburn are being made ahead of the 700th anniversary of – including one blood-soaked production being filmed in Canada.

Broadcasters are fighting their own battle to produce the most authentic account of the June 1314 conflict, which won Scotland its independence.

A gory, two-hour spectacular is being made for the History Channel, filmed with Scottish actors, but with the Canadian countryside standing in for Stirlingshire.

Robert the Bruce astride a white horse in the Canadian production
Robert the Bruce astride a white horse in the Canadian production


TV archaeologist Neil Oliver, meanwhile, is working on a BBC spectacular devoted to the battle.

And a Fife film company is also joining the fray, making a DVD aimed at schoolchildren about the life of Robert the Bruce.

The battle saw as many as 11,000 English troops killed and was spectacular victory for the smaller Scottish force.

Arcadia TV and Sky Vision are producing a two-hour docu-drama for the History Channel, filmed in Nova Scotia.

Pictures from the set of Bannockburn show grim scenes of bodies lying in lakes of blood while dirty, gore-streaked troops swing giant axes and swords.

The film-makers, who are keeping their budget under wraps, also show the Scots’ famous use of pikes to throw English horsemen from their mounts.

Producer John Wesley Chisholm promised the film would be the grittiest portrayal of the battle audiences had ever seen.

“It’s a story of juxtapositions: chivalry and violence, light and dark, loud and quiet,” he said.

“Our story will be darker and messier – more mysterious – than what I’ve seen before.

“There will be no manicured green lawns in our story world. I can’t speak to the BBC upcoming [show] – I don’t know what it will look like – but I’m happy that everyone will share this story in 2014.”


Mr Chisholm said there were still questions over where exactly the battle was fought, how many knights turned out, and how many were in the field armies.”

Robert the Bruce is seen astride a white horse in the pictures.

“White horses have a special significance in the mythologies of cultures around the world. They are often associated with warrior-heroes or an end-of-time saviour.

“In Bannockburn our Scottish hero Robert The Bruce rides a white horse.”

Members of the Stirlingshire-based Clanranald Trust, who perform medieval battle re-enactments, were used to carry out stunts for the show.

The BBC’s offering will be fronted by Oliver and fellow archaeologist Tony Pollard, and will also offer recreations of the battle as well as the results of an excavation which took place recently.

But the corporation refused to provide more details.

Fife-based Herald Events and Films was mostly filmed in Fife and stars Jock Ferguson as the Bruce.

It will include vignettes from his life to help teachers discuss the king’s life.

Mr Ferguson said: “It is unfortunate that Hollywood has portrayed Bruce as a coward and a betrayer of William Wallace, which is complete twaddle.

“Both Wallace and Bruce were fully supported by the church in Scotland, particularly in Fife by Bishop William Lamberton, and where one began a process along with Sir Andrew de Moray, it was Bruce who finished the job.”