Scottish History at Bannockburn

So it’s the first of March and I can’t believe that by the end of this month I will be finished with my postgraduate classes! This semester has been incredibly busy, hence the lack of blog posts about fun things. I have one class plus rollover assignments from last semester (long story), a work placement twice a week, and then volunteering on the side, in addition to getting started on my dissertation. So I’ve been a pretty busy gal juggling all of those! On the bright side, I really enjoy the variety in my schedule and the different people I get to meet. My work placement is working with business archives, which is something completely new to me! But I’m learning some pretty helpful skills with digitization, cataloging, and archival research. I’m also volunteering with an archaeological society in a small town outside of Glasgow. I’ve been helping the volunteers to repackage and catalogue their HUGE collection of Roman artifacts that have been gathered over a number of years going field surveying. It completely blows my mind that people are able to just go walking in their backyards and find ancient artifacts. So different from the archaeological record. And yes people, the Romans did make it as far as Scotland. They actually went beyond Hadrian’s Wall and built another wall along the central belt in Scotland and called it the Antonine Wall. Yay for history lessons!

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Since we’re on the topic of history lessons, I wanna tell you about my fun day trip to the site of the Battle of Bannockburn. If you have no idea idea what (or where) Bannockburn is, that’s completely okay because I wasn’t sure either. I only signed up for the trip as a chance to get out of Glasgow for the day and see a heritage site. Thankfully my Scottish friends helpfully enlightened me on some Scottish history. So Bannockburn is the site of the pivotal battle for Scottish Independence in 1314 when Robert the Bruce defeated English lead by King Edward II near Stirling castle. It’s not Braveheart, my friends were quick to mention. A good movie, though it’s just three hours of historic inaccuracies. So sorry, no William Wallace at Bannockburn.

The visitor center sits on the campsite of the Scottish warriors, not actually on the battlefield because, truthfully, they aren’t exactly sure where it all went down, though they have rough estimates. The visitor center for the Battle of Bannockburn Experience is a really unique, high-tech way of presenting history to visitors. The main attraction is an in-depth 3-D movie experience that takes you through the key figures and weaponry and war tactics utilized at the battle. Then you move into the battle room where you watch the battle from a bird’s eye view, with a staff member energetically narrative. Then comes the fun part: you are split into two groups, the Scots and the English, and get to face off in battle! The point isn’t to reenact the actual battle, but rather to work as a team to move your armies against the other team to defend Stirling Castle. This part was actually a lot of fun and thankfully my team (the Scots) came out victorious, almost just barely. After a while in the dark room of the 3-D experience, we took some time to look at replicas of medieval weapons and clothing. I, of course, had to get decked out in full garb. I even put on a chain mail shirt, though I definitely needed help. That thing was easily 30 pounds!

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Finally, after a long day, we were able to head outside to get a view of the Robert the Bruce statue and ceremonial area. It was gloriously sunny out, though a wee bit chilly. All in all, my trip to Bannockburn was really fun and I learned a lot! It also got my travel bug itching to see more of Scotland!

Bonus: yesterday was Marti Gras, or as the Brits call it Pancake Tuesday! Pancakes here are kinda gross. They sell them premade in stores and they are usually eaten with lemon juice and butter. ick. But my friends and I managed to find American pancakes at a little New York-style cafe. And of course we had to wash them done with milkshakes. I think pancake day is my new favorite tradition!

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