Date – 22 July 1298
First Major Battle of First War of Scottish Independence.
English Armies Led by King Edward I of England
Armored Cavalry – 2,000 strong
Infantry – 12,000 Strong
Longbowmen – 11,000 Strong
Scottish Armies led by William Wallace.
Result – English army Victory.
Interesting Fact – The English Longbowmen dominated the battle – 14 arrows per minute were fired on Scottish Forces.
The English army would meet up on 25 June at Roxburgh
The English armies which included a large number of Welsh Crossbowmen marched to Scotland led by King Edward I.
During the journey, their supplies became low they were almost forced to retreat, however King Edward I received surprising news that indicated William Wallace and his army was only a short distance away from his current location in the in the woodlands of Calendar near Falkirk.
On hearing this wonderful news King Edward I marched his troops to the location and was soon confronted with the Scottish Force of Wallace.
The Scottish army was mainly made up of spear-men who formed a ‘schiltron’
The ‘schiltron’ was a commonly deployed Scottish fighting technique in which a thousands of troops holding 12 foot spears (Pike Weapons) would form a massive circle or similar shape that would be very difficult for enemy forces to breach, it is described as looking similar to a ‘giant hedgehog’ when in formation!
The Battle commenced on the 22nd of July 1298 as the English cavalry separated into four heavily armored battalions – The English army was commanded by the Earls of Norfolk, Hereford and Lincoln, Bishop of Durham and the King himself. The Cavalry of the English army charged the the left and right flanks of the Scottish army.
The Scots under the command of John Steward of Bonkill were ordered to stand their ground and the schiltron formations were successful in thwarting the English attacks.
King Edward on witnessing this decided to change his tactics or maybe he had planned this all along, but in any event he stopped the cavalry charges and brought forward the long-bowmen who would now be the focus of the attack on the Scots.
The English longbowmen sent over an unending stream of arrows as many as 14 arrows per minute were fired by around 11,000 longbowmen! This was backed up by crossbow and slingshots.
The once UN-breakable schiltron formations of the Scottish troops began to fail as the soldiers were picked off by the arrows leaving gaps that the English foot soldiers and Cavalry could not exploit.
An English victory was assured as the Scots retreated and fled into the nearby forest of Torwood – The Scottish army suffered large casualties however William Wallace was able to escape.