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The public vote for a circle of words on the Bannockburn battlefield

17 November 2012

Ten acclaimed Scottish poets have been asked to write a new poem as part of a project to restore the memorials at the heart of the Battle of Bannockburn site.  

The National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland are working in partnership with Creative Scotland and the Scottish Poetry Library to select a poem to be inscribed into the new replacement ring beam of the iconic 1960s- built Rotunda.

The commission is part of the Battle of Bannockburn project to transform the visitor facilities at the heritage site, including a state-of-the-art visitor centre and a programme of conservation, restoration and enhancement of the flagpole, Bruce statue and Rotunda monuments, which have long been a place of commemoration.

Ten poets have been commissioned to write a new poem inspired by the battle site, and the public will be invited help choose the one poem that will be inscribed on the ring beam. All ten have been published for the first time on:, along with details on how to vote.

Voting is now open and will close on Friday 30th November 2012.

The commissioned writers are from different parts of Scotland and work in a range of poetic styles and languages, including Gaelic and Scots. Distinguished poet Douglas Dunn, who has recently published his 14th collection, was one of the invited poets alongside up and coming Stirling poet William Letford, who published his first collection this year.

The other poets contributing work are: Tom Pow, John Burnside, Kathleen Jamie, Robert Crawford, Robin Robertson, Valerie Gillies, Aonghas MacNeacail and Alec Finlay.

The winning poem will be chosen through a combination of the public vote and the deliberations of a judging panel which will convene in December. It includes some of the UK’s top historians and literary experts, including Liz Lochhead, the Scots Makar.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said:

“This is a really exciting opportunity for everyone to see brand new work by so many of our best poets and have their say on which verse will become an enduring part of the memorials at the site. As well as giving people a vote the new website also gives a fascinating insight into the inspiration and influences that shaped each piece in the poet’s own words.”

Robyn Marsack, Director of the Scottish Poetry Library and chair of the judging panel, said:

“The Scottish Poetry Library was delighted to be approached by the Battle of Bannockburn project as a partner for a unique commission for Scottish writers. Poetry is one of Scotland’s oldest and strongest art forms. Given the long tradition of famous poems about Bannockburn, the idea of contemporary work being developed to provide reflections on the site and its history is very exciting indeed.”

Dr Gavin Wallace, Portfolio Manager for Literature, Publishing and Language at Creative Scotland, said:

“The Battle of Bannockburn is inscribed indelibly upon Scotland’s national psyche, however much we might continue to debate exactly what that psyche is.  How fitting, and exciting, then that the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland have chosen to commemorate the restoration of the site through the permanent embellishment of poetry, the art in which Scotland has excelled for centuries and which speaks directly to our conscious and unconscious minds like no other.  

Creative Scotland is privileged to be involved in this innovative project, and is grateful to the distinguished roster of our leading poets who have risen to the occasion.”

David McAllister, Project Director at The National Trust for Scotland said:

“The Rotunda monument is the central place for commemoration of the battle of Bannockburn. Our intention is to continue that tradition of memorial and contemplation by adding a new, thought-provoking element.

“Work is already underway to restore the Rotunda monument so it looks at its best for the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn in 2014, and the timber ring beam is being completely replaced. The new beam will be carved with the winning poem introducing a contemporary take on the battle and the landscape, while paying respect to the memory of this important moment in Scottish history.”

At the moment, the wooden ring beam has been removed for conservation. The entire concrete structure of the Rotunda will be carefully cleaned and repaired and the space within will also be resurfaced.  The famous flagpole at the centre of the Rotunda is also being carefully restored. Once completed, this work will enable a Saltire to fly proudly over Bannockburn once again.  

These works will be taking place until approximately mid-2013 and access to the area will be limited until then. For more information on the project and its progress, visit:

The Battle of Bannockburn project is funded by generous support from the Scottish Government and a £4.1 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Notes for editors

The judging panel will convene on 3 December 2012 and the winning poem will be announced shortly thereafter. The panel will consist of:

Chair – Robyn Marsak, Director of the Scottish Poetry Library
Liz Lochead, the Scottish Makar
Kenneth Calman, Chairman of The National Trust for Scotland
Scott McMaster, Bannockburn Property Manager
Colin MacConnachie, Interpretation Specialist
Andrew Wright, Heritage Consultant and expert on the History of the Rotunda monument

1.The Battle of Bannockburn Project is a joint venture by the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland, on behalf of the Scottish Government, to provide a new visitor centre and experience for one of the most significant battles in Scotland’s history for the 700th anniversary in the 2014.

2.The new Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre will use state of the art installations to  interpret and explain the circumstances that led up to this pivotal event in our history and its consequences.  The Scottish Government has committed £5 million, through Historic Scotland, and £4.1 million has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

3.The design team include:  
•Architectural Team – Reiach and Hall with Sinclair Knight Merz (Engineer), Turner and Townsend (QS) and KJ Tait (M&E Engineers)
•Interpretation: Concept and Design – Bright White Ltd
•Landscape Architects – Ian White Associates
•3D Media Research, Development and Realisation - Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation (CDDV)
•Contractors – Mansell Construction Services Ltd

4.Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament. For more information visit Follow us on Twitter @welovehistory and Facebook

5.The National Trust for Scotland is one of Scotland’s leading conservation charities, which relies on the financial support of its members to fund its important work of caring for the natural and cultural heritage of Scotland for everyone to enjoy

6.Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. To date it has invested £536 million in Scotland’s heritage

7.Register for media release email alerts from If you wish to unsubscribe at any time, please email

Further Contacts

National Trust for Scotland
Contact:Heather Macpherson
Direct line:0844 493 2456
Mobile:075445 39283

Historic Scotland
Contact: Communications and Media Department
Direct line: 0131 668 8731

Heritage Lottery Fund
Contact: Shiona Mackay
Direct line:01786 870638
Mobile: 07779 142890

                                               Year of Creative Scotland 2012

For further information

Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07920 768 096