Histrionics in Stirling

The Scots army pose for pictures. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

The Scots army pose for pictures. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

 

If not the quite centre of the universe, Stirling felt like the place to be in Scotland this weekend.

 

A Scottish soldier looks for a fight. Photograph ¸Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014, all rights reserved.

A Scottish soldier looks for a fight. Photograph © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014, all rights reserved.

 

England's King Edward II awaits the battle. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

England’s King Edward II awaits the battle. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

 

On Friday evening, Pipefest kicked three days of festivities, with around 1600 pipers and other musicians from around the world marching from the castle through the city’s streets. The following day, Bannockburn Live competed for attention with Armed Forces Day, the latter having been somewhat controversially arranged to coincide with the commemoration of local hero Robert the Bruce’s epic victory over the English army on a boggy field in the year 1314.

 

A family feud gets resolved. Photograph ¸Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014, all rights reserved.

A family feud gets resolved. Photograph © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014, all rights reserved.

 

An English soldier is dragged out of the arena. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

An English soldier is sent homewards, tae think again. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

 

Document Scotland photographers Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Colin McPherson joined the throng as a sell-out crowd of 20,000 made their way to Bannockburn for two days of music, entertainment and re-enactments, the backdrop of which was to commemorate the battle and to show a bit of partizan patriotism.

 

Grubs up, 14th century style. Photograph ¸Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014, all rights reserved.

Grub’s up, 14th century style. Photograph © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014, all rights reserved.

 

An impromptu umbrella. Photograph ¸Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014, all rights reserved.

An impromptu umbrella. Photograph © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014, all rights reserved.

 

Clans gathering at Bannockburn Live. © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014, all rights reserved.

Clans gathering at Bannockburn Live. © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014, all rights reserved.

 

The event itself reflected many aspects of Scotland: rather than a sombre commemoration honouring the dead, the tone of the re-enacted battle scenes were sometimes irreverent and inadvertently humourous. Informative, colourful and at times bloodthirsty yes, but also laced with a healthy dose of sarcasm and surrealism. Meanwhile outside the main arena, the 14th century had been lovingly recreated by an assortment of characters fashioning weapons, cooking gruel and making clothes.

 

The Scots show their deadly shilterns. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

The Scots show their deadly shilterns. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

 

Robert the Bruce and Alex Salmond come face-to-face. Photograph by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014, all rights reserved.

Robert the Bruce and Alex Salmond come face-to-face. Photograph © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014, all rights reserved.

 

With visitors from every corner of the Scottish diaspora in attendance, it took every inch of famed Scots resolve to remain cheerful despite the rain. The weather on the Saturday was more evil than medieval, but the crowds endured it, mindful no doubt that their suffering was pitiful in comparison to that of the soldiers and their families on that fateful day seven centuries ago. In the end, souvenirs were purchased, pints sunk and a few songs sung and the crowds shuffled off for another 700 years.

Two modern-day Scottish warriors. Photograph © Simon Roberts 2014, all rights reserved.

Two modern-day Scottish warriors. Photograph © Simon Roberts 2014, all rights reserved.

 

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