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Archaeologists search for medieval evidence at Bannockburn

23 February 2011

                            Property Manager Scott McMaster surveys the trenches during the recent dig

Excavations have taken place at the National Trust for Scotland’s site at Bannockburn to see if there are any medieval finds from the famous 1314 battle.  

Archaeologists have investigated areas which are due to be planted with new trees. The planting is part of the advance landscaping works for a £5m joint project between the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland which aims to revamp the visitor centre, creating a state-of-the-art world-class visitor attraction at the site of the battle. The new centre will open in 2014, the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, the next year of Homecoming.  

Lindsay Macdonald, Historic Scotland’s Project Director said:  “Historic Scotland is delighted to be involved as project manager in this partnership project and is excited about what is being developed for the immersive interpretation of events in time for the 700th anniversary of the battle.”

Metal detectors have been used to help recover both copper alloy and iron artefacts.  So far investigations have located mainly 19th century field drains with clay drainage pipes and the bases of furrows perhaps belonging to the 16th-18th century.  A small number of green-glazed post-medieval pot sherds have also been found in the furrows.

The National Trust for Scotland commissioned Glasgow University’s Centre for Battlefield Archaeology to carry out the works.

Dr Tony Pollard, Director of the Centre said:

“Borestone could have been the site for the Scots camp prior to the famous Battle of Bannockburn.  If a large number of Scottish spearmen and camp followers stayed on this spot in the first half of June 1314, it is possible that artefacts and rubbish pits may have been left behind.”

Derek Alexander, the National Trust for Scotland’s interim head of archaeology said:

“We have to be sure of the archaeology which is onsite, before any work begins on the ambitious plans to revamp the visitor centre. While the trenches have yet to yield any significant finds, we felt it was vital to take this opportunity to explore the site further. The tree planting can now progress and we can be confident that we’re not disturbing important remains.”

The work comes as the current visitor centre prepares to open for the visitor season once again. Opening on 1 March, the Bannockburn Heritage Centre provides visitors with an overview of the events surrounding the Battle of Bannockburn and enables them to experience the sights and sounds of medieval warfare with an awe-inspiring HD movie.

Property Manager Scott McMaster said:

“We’ve got a packed programme of events planned at Bannockburn this summer which will give visitors of all ages the chance to better understand the battle, why it was fought and what the implications were for the development of the nation. It also gives people a taste of what medieval battle was like, its tactics, techniques and weaponry. And we’ll be able to keep everyone up to date with the latest plans for the revamped centre.”

Over the course of the summer, the centre will run a series of guided walks around the property, activities for children and Easter activities begin on Friday 22 April. For more information, visit  

Editor’s Notes:

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. It is a four-year project with a £5 million budget which is in the form of a grant from Historic Scotland to the Trust.

2. 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 consultant – Bright White
  • Landscape Architects – Ian White Associates
  • Digital Design - Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation (CDDV)

3. 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.

4. 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.

IMAGE: Property Manager Scott McMaster surveys the trenches during the recent dig.

For further information

Lisa Nicholson
Communications and Media Manager, Historic Scotland
Communications and Media
0131 668 8852 or 07500 065 438

Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr, NTS
0844 493 2483 or 07713 786 277