Scotland has a fascinating history, with tales of incredible battles dating back to the 12th century. People from around the world visit the country to see the battlefields, castles, and monuments that still stand today, for a journey into this nation’s incredible past.
Behind each one of these battles are stories of legendary heroes and heroines, whose names are inscribed into the history books. Here at Parkdean Holidays, we’ve unearthed some of Scotland’s greatest legends and the places you can visit to learn more about them.
One of Scotland’s most celebrated heroes is Sir William Wallace, a truly significant figure in Scotland’s heritage. Wallace was one of the main leaders of the rebellion in the Scottish War of Independence, willing to do whatever it took to win the country its freedom.
In the 1290s, Scotland was enduring a succession crisis – and Edward I, King of England, wanted to take control. This made the country very unsettled and anxious, so William and his army formed a plan for Scotland’s liberation and Edward’s defeat.
In 1297, Wallace and his men attacked the town of Lenark, killing an English Sheriff called William de Heselrig. This murder sparked a full-blown war between England and Scotland, where Wallace became a famous leader as he began to drive the English out of Fife and Perthshire. In September 1297, he managed to defeat a much larger English force at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, weakening England’s hold on Scotland.
This success resulted in Wallace being knighted, and he was appointed “Guardian of the Kingdom”. However, the shock of this defeat made the English more determined, and Edward gained an even larger following than before. This led to the Battle of Falkirk in 1298, which resulted in the demise of Wallace’s army.
Despite his defeat, Sir William Wallace remains a source of inspiration for Scottish pride. The National Wallace Monument near Stirling was created in commemoration of his life. Located just over an hour away from Sundrum Castle Holiday Park, it’s an excellent day out for families and history lovers alike. The monument offers three exhibition galleries to explore, and the view from the Crown at the top of the tower will take your breath away. Look out over the scene of the Battle of Stirling Bridge, and imagine Wallace’s victory all those years ago.
Video sourced from Sky Focus
Robert the Bruce
Along with William Wallace, Robert the Bruce was another heroic advocate for Scottish independence in the 13th century. There’s no denying how hard he fought to regain Scotland’s freedom, and his commitment and drive led him to become King.
When Wallace stepped down from his role of “The Guardian of Scotland”, Robert later took on his ally’s position as the Guardian – although his ambition didn’t end there. He wished to rule his beloved country as its King so he killed his rival to the throne, John Comyn (The Earl of Buchan) – so that he could claim the crown for himself. However, because he committed this act in a church, Robert found himself being excommunicated by the Pope – excluding him from the Christian faith.
Not letting this stop him, Robert proclaimed his right to the throne and was crowned King of Scotland in 1306. However, Edward II of England believed he should be able to rule Scotland, as well as his own country. As a result, another battle took place between Scotland and England. Although Edward’s army was at least double the size of Robert’s, the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 resulted in the defeat of the English Army.
With renewed confidence in their King, the Scottish earls and barons wrote to Pope John XXII in 1320 – claiming Robert was the rightful monarch and Scotland should be an independent country. This was called the Declaration of Arbroath, with Robert finally recognised by the Pope as the true King of an independent Scotland in 1324.
This story is sure to inspire a trip to Bannockburn Castle. The hill on which the castle sits is said to be where the King watched Edward’s army assembling before the legendary battle commenced. This location is a significant landmark in Scotland’s history. Located just over an hour away from Sundrum Castle Holiday Park, it’s certainly worth a visit!
Jacobite heroine Flora MacDonald is one of the most romanticised figures in Scottish history. She became famous for helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape to France, following the Jacobite’s defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, and her bravery has continued to be remembered ever since.
The Jacobites believed that Catholic James VII of Scotland and his Stuart descendants should be restored to the throne of Scotland and England. This was after the Glorious Revolution back in 1688, when King James VII was overthrown by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III – Prince of Orange. Consequently, a series of rebellions, uprisings, and wars took place, known as the Jacobite Risings, which continued over several years.
During the final Jacobite rebellion, Bonnie Prince Charlie – grandson of James VIII – was forced to flee for his life after being defeated at Culloden Battlefield. After almost two months on the run, he reached the island of Benbecula, in the Outer Hebrides, which is where Flora was living, aged just 24.
The Prince’s companion, Captain O’Neill, asked for Flora’s assistance to help him escape. He knew that Flora’s family were secretly sympathetic to the Jacobite cause, and after some hesitation, she agreed. She managed to get a pass to travel to the mainland with two servants and a crew of six boatmen, with Bonnie Prince Charlie disguised in a dress as Betty Burke – an Irish spinning maid.
They first set sail on 27th June 1746, initially to Skye, then landed at Kilmuir, known today as Rudha Phrionnsa (Prince’s Point). They hid in a cottage for the night before making their way to Portree, where the prince could get a safe passage to France.
Charles is said to have given Flora a locket containing his portrait, but they never saw each other again. When the news got out about the escape, Flora was arrested and imprisoned at Dunstaffnage Castle, Oban, and then briefly at the Tower of London. She was released in 1747, and returned to Scotland.
Culloden Battlefield is just 20 minutes away from Nairn Lochloy Holiday Park, and is a great place to visit if you want to learn more about Bonnie Prince Charlie’s defeat.