The 600th Anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn in 1914

BannockburnThe  700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn is imminent and many activities are taking place to celebrate and commemorate the anniversary. There is, for instance, the Battle of Bannockburn Project, a partnership between the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland, funded by the Scottish Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Project seeks to create an innovative new visitor centre and sensitive landscaping around Bannockburn that will change the way visitors experience the site, ‘making it a truly world-class site for this defining moment in Scotland’s history’. As part of the Project the public could vote on the poem to be inscribed to the new replacement ring beam of the iconic 1960s-built Rotunda monument at the Bannockburn site.

Given the flurry of activity this year, however, it is worth remembering that, a century ago when the 600th anniversary took place, Scots all around the world engaged actively with the Bannockburn legacy. Sentiments are captured well in this poem written by an Isabel Ewing of Wentworth Falls, New South Wales; the poem was published in the Scottish Australasian in June 1914:

Stands Scotland where she did?

 

In Freedom’s foremost rank they stood,
Our Fathers, true and brave;
For freedom left their native land
And crossed the stormy wave.
To worship God—to hear His Word—
In lonely glen they hid;
Say in the cause of Christ the Lord:
Stands Scotland where she did?

 

When leagued oppression threatened them,
Those warriors of the past
Feared not to leave their hearths and homes
And face keen winter’s blast.
They dared to stand for liberty,
Nor crouch as tyrant bid.
Oh, brothers of my heart and blood,
Stands Scotland where she did?

 

Remember glorious Bannockburn;
How on the dewy sod
Great Scotland’s army knelt in prayer
And cast their care on God.
And He, the Lord of battles, heard;
The oppressing hosts he chid,
Till Bannock’s stream ran deep with blood.
Stands Scotland where she did?

 

Sons of those mighty men of old,
What stand take ye to-day?
Hath this world’s God ensnared your hearts?
Own ye His tyrant sway?
Would ye, for kirk and covenant,
Fight ruthless foes amid?
Or has our glory vanished?
Stands Scotland where she did?

 

When, ‘mid the crash of battle loud,
Ye lead the hope forlorn,
And proudly on to victory grand
Old Scotland’s flag is borne,
Say—shall the brave old banner blue
Your fathers loved be hid?
Shall foes have cause to whisper still,
Stands Scotland where she did?

 

Dear land of heath, and sweet blue bell,
Where freedom loved to stray,
Wake up thine ancient glorious deeds,
Thy father’s God obey ;
Faith’s mighty sword again gird on,
From foes He will thee rid.
Then answer clear, with trumpet voice,
Scotland stands where she did!

Elsewhere, in New York, the poem would also have been well received as the city’s Scots planned their celebrations. As the New York Times reported, the Scots of the city may not be going back to Scotland ‘to take part in the commemoration of the greatest event in their history, but they will certainly celebrate with enthusiasm here in their adopted home’. Clans gathered in Carnegie Hall, and the event was framed, as the planning committee observed, ‘to be a celebration of the spirit of Scottish nationality and that principle of liberty dear to a people noted the world over for their patriotism and pride of country.’

The event in New York was part of a plethora of events that took place worldwide. In the US, celebrations were also held, for instance, in Bridgeport and Jersey City. In New Zealand too a number of celebrations were held. In Dunedin, for instance, the local Burns Club had organised a gathering at the city’s Garrison Hall (click here for the full report), while those connected to the St Andrew’s Society of Auckland gathered in the Town Hall there. The New Zealand Free Lance ran a full page with fitting images.

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