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Bannockburn Revealed: The site of the Battle of Bannockburn Hardcover – 24 Sep 2000

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 525 pages
  • Publisher: Elenkus (24 Sep 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0952191016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0952191018
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.1 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 426,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The favourite sport of William Wallace Cunningham Scott (a native of the Island of Bute) is hashing: jungle running in Borneo at some risk of consumption by snakes, crocodiles and leeches. He has three university degrees and two fellowships, one of them in mathematics: FIMA, Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics, sponsored (among others) by the late Prof Sir Hermann Bondi, Master of Churchill College, Cambridge and Head of the Natural Environment Research Council, a scientist of world class. The certificate is signed by Sir James Lighthill, former holder of the Lucasian chair in Mathematics, once held by Isaac Newton, more recently by Stephen Hawking.
William served on the Scottish Mathematical Council and taught mathematics (and philosophy)in several places in the UK and abroad. In Brunei, Borneo, where he was head of maths in the sixth form college, he loved hashing: orienteering in the jungle, without compass or maps, often getting lost, even in the dark when there was some chance of being some creature's breakfast. Snakes, scorpions, hornets, leeches, crocodiles twenty feet long, thorns and mosquitos, any of which could kill you, were one's companions. He became expert at travelling through swamps and trained hard just to stay alive. A hash lasted about 2 hours and covered about 5-7 miles of unfamiliar terrain in a temperature of about 80-100 degrees and humidity equivalent, as it was on the equator by the South China Sea.
After publishing many articles in journals and newspapers, he began to write novels, an ambition, aged 3. His first novel, 'The Bannockburn Years', published by Luath Press, won the Constable Trophy in 1997 and was judged by Nigel Tranter, a brilliant feat of story telling. This had been well researched. Some historians concluded he had not read their work because it presented a different picture from theirs. But he had read it and rejected it. Realising that the history had been fouled up by the so called experts, Wm undertook, as a reluctant duty, to repair it, thinking it could be done in a couple of years. It has taken about 14 more years, mainly because of their obstruction. 'Bannockburn Revealed'(BR),published in the year 2000, took over 2.5 years full time to research and is an unarguable advance on everything that went before: it has all the reports of the battle, translated and analysed for the first time, the best maps ever seen until then (the first justified maps ever) and a power of argument which is matchless. Eg There was no Scottish cavalry charge at all, every Scot was on foot and Bruce led the entire army on foot. All of this was shown in the year 2000, See p214 and p254 BR.
But investigating at such depth, several important errors were discovered in the works of historians in control of the subject. Not surprisingly, this important new work was ignored and accorded no attention by historians. Who would want to see his errors made public? During the next five years, most of it full time, the research was taken to a deeper level yet. Several proofs of the battle site (one of them a single sentence with a page of quotation) and the tactics were produced and even better maps with elevations for the first time and all the ridging in the ground. By itself, these new maps showed that a battle on the Dryfield was impossible: there are two great depressions there of 75ft and 54ft with ridges that make a battle of the kind the sources report, impossible. The Dryfield is dry and has always been dry; the battle took place among pools of water. The book containing these advances 'Bannockburn Proved' was published in 2005, these improved maps having 27,000 words extra of justification, all confirmed by an independent enthusiast who spent years at the work. In 2012 further research resulted in 'The Genius of Bannockburn'(GB) which carries the proofs to a higher level, using every available source; the proof that two historians have made 2 simple mistakes in translation which were correctly translated a hundred years before, in one case, and once these are fixed, the site of the battle is immediately obvious from two sources alone, though there is a mountain of other evidence and none against, for those who are not ignorant, that is. The highlight of this latest book is Bruce's pikemen formation and the further proofs obtained by even better use of the various sources; the recognition that the single discontinuity in the various 14 sources could be resolved at last after it was first noticed 12 years before. And, most surprisingly, four reporters, some of them present at the battle had misunderstood what they saw: the Scots kneeling. They all thought they were praying. Why? Because they were all clergymen. Not so! The Scots knelt because that was the best way to deal with a cavalry charge, for 14 pikes will strike the knight before his lance hits any of them: no contest. Best of all, the energy of the charge is taken by the ground because the butt of the pike is set there in a small hole made by a dunt. Another most important advance is that the Carse of Balquhidderock is unique in regularly having many pools of water, an invariant for this carse because the road across it has always had to zigzag around them, at extra expense. The explanation of this, which involved many visits to all the pows in the Forth Valley (and many in the borders), is a small miracle. The mistakes in translation were proved by this work and further errors, some of them remarkable, in the work traditionally taken as the best known, established.
A summary of the Genius of Bannockburn was produced and will soon be reprinted, the delay only being due to the writing of a further book which is expected to be read by any Scottish person a century from now, so accessible is it, yet accurate and provably so, even within this small book.
Wm has produced three other books in the last two decades: two novels,'A Bute Crucifixion' which is about how a minister in a small town is subverted and 'crucified' because of the machinations of the local mafioso. Is there a God is a theme; and what is Goodness? 'Honour Killing in Argyle&Bute' is about the Muslim problem: what would you say to a Muslim bent on blowing up himself (and others) to divert him? Finally, a reconstruction (that reads like a novel) to explain the witch burnings in Bute in 1662 and 1673: 'The Bute Witches'. This has all the relevant papers at the end, on which the reconstruction is based. The forthcoming book (complete) is a reconstruction of the Battle of Bannockburn. In this case the historical sources are all in the research of the other books on Bannockburn but the proofs are self contained even in this small book.
William Scott now has few interests apart from keeping fit in gym, pool and forest, 6 nations rugby, test cricket, attending St Giles (occasionally), concerts in Glasgow and reading widely. The insight about the pikemen (an enduring problem from the year 2000) was discovered 12 years later, on waking up at 4am after a concert and 2 glasses of wine. What excitement it was to solve that problem! It took a couple of weeks to sort out the details.
Wm writes a novel in about a month. Every novel he writes is designed to solve a problem that is intractable. Characters are invented who by their conflict reveal the answer in the arguments discovered. This conflict produces the drama which makes the problem solving accessible and entertaining. 'The Bannockburn Years' was about Scottish independence: what arguments pro and con could be found? 'The Gun Genius', a novel that came second in the Constable Trophy in 1991, was not published because MI5 thought it contained information useful to the IRA. In a single week end in Ireland, a lot had been seen and understood: eg that the IRA trained underground, confirmed afterwards. The rest was imagination: what should the IRA do? The problem here was to find arguments against what they were doing, that would compel their agreement.
History takes years to discover, about three years full time per book. Again, the discovery of compelling arguments is the spring, the aim.
The reason why William Scott has been successful in solving the Bannockburn Problems is that he began with no prejudices and applied his training in Mathematics,Science,Philosophy(vital),Psychology(really necessary),Latin and Greek (as well as history, it must be admitted) and taught himself how to make maps and investigate a battle area, the work of years to understand what had taken place over the centuries. Three years full time were devoted to making the maps of 1314 alone. The idea of a fully justified map is crucial: the full justification (within the books mentioned) occupies a volume of 120,000 words. This means that the details of the map are written up like a lab experiment where they can be checked, as they have been independently. The idea of printing all the reports of the battle, translated in one book where they can be analysed for each issue, is matchless: When 7 sources, half of them present at the battle, all tell us (repeatedly!), that the Scots were all on foot, against a single source (Barbour) written 63 years later who alone has a cavalry charge of Scots, you know what happened. The difference between this work and all previous work is that this is science: it is exhaustive. Anyone who does not agree has either not read it or is not equipped to deal with it. This work has been confirmed by many very able men, Sheriffs, Advocates (like Irvine Smith QC), Prosecutors, Ministers (like Rev J Stein, a theologian),Teachers,Military men (like Col Bruce Niven (MA 1st Class Geography, MBE,Ex Chief of Stafff,SAS), editors and historians like the ex Keeper of the Records of Scotland,(Patrick Cadell) who reviewed BR in Scottish Local History and confirmed that the problems had been solved by this work.
Why did historians before fail? They thought it was only a matter of opinion, that the matter could not be proved, and so they never learned enough to try and prove it. As a mathematician, Wm was determined to try and prove it and thought it might be possible, correctly, as it turned out and almost immediately: everything since has been refinement. They never had all the sources: Trokelowe and Baker had never been translated anywhere in the literature until they appeared in BR. They had not seen the Brut y Tywysogyon which is crucial (there are 3 versions, only one is valuable). They never understood the ground and that takes years of labour. They prefer to work in libraries with maps that they imperfectly understand because they will not spend the time visiting the ground [the best known book on this subject was written by a man who visited it for two days; this research has involved a decent fraction of a thousand visits in over two decades) and which, it has been found, even with current OS maps, have important errors. The idea that population calculations can be done is anathema to the historian who usually took up the subject to escape mathematics. When several independent calculations give answers which are nearly identical and when they can be seen to be correct based on the old maps that we do have in which the very houses can be counted, you can say a great deal about the population of the battle area even in 1314. This matters because the very idea that the battle area was devoid of woodland, as most historians believe it was in 1314 (on no evidence) is demolished by the fact that the population of St Ninians then was about 120, only 30 of whom were adult men. Since the woodland increases on every map as we go back in time (and has control even today with 25,000 people living in the area)this means that there were not enough men to cut the hundreds of thousands of trees that were present in that 6 mile area. They could have made no impact whatever. By the time they had cut and used 100 trees, that ground would have been seeded by just as many by all the others.
But the main deficiency is education: the historian is trained in methods which have all failed. No progress was made because of this. None in seven centuries! That should have told them they were on the wrong track. A multidisciplinary approach is necessary: you go on asking questions until there are none left; you solve any problem that presents itself. This takes hundreds of visits to the battle area and even further afield. No historian has time for this. Only the specialist, who is an idealist, in pursuit of the truth and because it matters to his countrymen who deserve to understand the matter, regardless of cost. But the main defect is insight: the ability to see into the past, to see how it once was, the ability to find evidence and arguments to prove it. This takes the invention of original procedures which make it possible. They are all described in GB. The old method of narrative (as if God were speaking) with a single reference nobody reads (or they would see what was wrong with it) is finished. In history, even medieval history as far back as 1314, things can be proved. That this research has made possible the correction of statements by 4 reporters, some of them at the battle itself, at a distance of 8 centuries, is an achievement that was never expected. A hugely satisfying experience to see this. Above all, what has emerged, is that historians are peculiarly limited in their ability to assemble all the sources, get them all translated, investigate their reliability, resolve any minor discontinuities (there are a couple: the resolution is wondrously revealing!) and analyse them all simultaneously, for the same issue, a procedure that is matchless in revealing the truth. This never happened before! It will probably take our historians half a century to absorb this important conclusion. That is because they are arrogant as well as ignorant and stupid in the main. They will not absorb it because they will not take the time to study it. You need to combine the results of the analysis which is the truth, no question: when you have a dozen or so written reports, half of them written within days of the battle, that is what you have.When there is a difference it is because the writer wrote half a century later than these and he could not know what did happen.Eg Barbour whom the Scots have mistakenly revered far beyond his competence just because he was a Scot. You have to know what he said that was correct and what was false, and that takes work. It is not a job for a writer of easily accessible narratives with a few isolated references thrown down. What is needed is every reference that is relevant and reliable on every issue: this the analysis provides. Combine this analysis with the best map of the area with all the elevations and ridges and every stream and hillock and bog and house and you are ready to understand the battle. [You need to know what it was like in very wet weather, as it was at the event]. Most of all, by this stage it makes perfectly consistent sense, something no historian has ever been capable of. And the map, remember has been written up like a lab experiment and can be checked. Given the thousands of insights in these maps of the area in 1314 in this research, if one or two needed to be changed, it would make no difference.
Finally, you need to have the ability to deal with movements of an army and its parts in time and space, another aspect never seen before in historians.
The reader of this will doubtless wonder at it. Consider this: a new study was set up of the battle area in the summer with 12 academics being paid £120,000 to do about 6 weeks work. The press release announced that the work was necessary because there were only 4 sources and they were all 20 years after the battle. What rubbish! Any person of wit who reads Vita, Scalacronica, Trokelowe or Lanercost, knows they were written within days of it. Why? Because of the emotion, the grief still present, as well as the wealth of detail, things that would all have been lost within a single year. The conclusion is clear: our historians are peculiarly devoid of intelligence to make a mistake like that. What is the real reason for the study and expense? To distract attention from BR,BP and GB most of all. Of course the media promote their nonsense, for it takes knowledge and brains to see that is what it is. How many details would you the reader remember of an event like a football match after a year? Would there by any emotion left to convey? Of course not.

Product Description


How did a tiny Scottish army defeat a far larger and more powerful English army at the Battle of Bannockburn? This text provides a new picture of the battle, concluding that the Scots won because they surprised their enemy by using new tactics. The first scholarly book on this subject by this author. Also the first to provide within one volume all the relevant written sources. The first also to provide a well-justfied map of the battle area in 1314. 100 pages are devoted to the study of the topography. The two together, the reports of the battle (some of which had not been seen translated in a book before) and the very accurate map of the area which shows the streams, high ground, woodland etc enable most of the problems to be solved instantly within the book. The place where Bruce killed de Bohun is shown for the first time. The traditional belief that 6,000 Scots beat 20,000 English was demolished by the Charisma-Population Argument which, alas, though it is simple and beautiful, some historians still do not understand 15 years later, though many laymen instantly see the point. Bannockburn is seen not to be a village in 1750, still less, 1314. There would be no houses there at that time. The population of St Ninians, the battle area and the country in 1314 is worked by the author who is a mathematician with a fellowship in the subject. About a hundred visits to the battle area for this first book were made to understand changes to the ground. The traditional book regarded as definitive previously involved only two days at the battle area, which partly explains the success of this work over all previous works. 'Mr Scott has.. definitively established that the main action took place in the Carse of Balquhiderock.' Chris Jackson, Crown Prosecutor, in Slingshot no 230. "Thank you for 'Bannockburn Revealed'. It's quite a while since I felt overwhelmed by a book--especially non fiction. A whole week-end was wiped out for me--engrossed in reading and map referencing, with the occasional twenty-minute trip out in the car to check out this landmark or that. Certainly I found myself delighted by your invaluable meta-analytical approach. It's a storming piece of work." Dr David Simpson, Stirling.

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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Jan 2001
Format: Hardcover
"Bannockburn Revealed" is a scholarly, comprehensive and thoroughly researched analysis of all aspects of Scotland's most important medieval battle. The author reviews and compares the work of the contemporary choniclers and also of all the relevant historians who have tackled the subject over the ensuing 700 years. He distils the material into an invaluable summary of events and topography, and offers his own research and analysis to present some surprising conclusions.
This sounds academic and dull. It is no such thing. It is a damn good read and a compelling story with superbly presented illustrations and graphics. Most useful of all, is the author's penetrating treatment of much of the received wisdom, opinion and myth which has clouded our view of this military landmark.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Stein on 14 Feb 2010
Format: Hardcover
Like a master mariner using different methods to plot his position, William Scott has used the logic of three different disciplines to pinpoint what actually happened at the Battle of Bannockburn.

1 He has brought together all the historical records available, and translated them where required. These indicate, for example, that led by Bruce the Scots fought on foot (not on horseback); that the English camped down in the Carse of Balquiderock (that is, north of the present Bannockburn High School); that the battlefield was covered with pools of water (which indicates the Carse, not the Dryfield, as currently supposed); that the English were over-confident, and were surprised early in the morning by the Scots infantry.

2 He has spent months researching and observing the geography of the site. He has noted the accuracy of the Roy maps, compared with most later ones, and the importance of Balquiderock Wood (just above the true battlefield site). He has spotted the significance of the Pelstream, which in Bruce's day was much bigger than it is today, and explained why that is. He has worked out where Bruce defeated de Bohun, and why the English moved down to camp in the carse, all from the geography of the site related to the historical records.

3 Third he has worked out how Bruce's tactics were brilliant and inspirational, getting the Scots infantry men close enough to the English line so that the English could not use their cavalry to good effect, and could not use their archers without shooting their own cavalry. He has shown how a line of pikemen five or six deep could withstand a limited cavalry charge, after which the English would inevitably be in a dire position.

All that and much much more.

Jock Stein
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Susan Graham on 28 April 2011
Format: Hardcover
Bannockburn Revealed was the first book to bring together all the evidence regarding this crucial battle. It quite clearly establishes what happened, where and how.
It is the only book of its kind I have read which actually proves what happened, in the process debunking many myths about the battle.
There is an absurd critique of it by an anonymous contributor ( Could it be one of the authors whose work has been proved wrong by Scott?) which says it is a mish-mash of evidence which Scott uses to support his view. This is patent nonsense. Scott has spent approximately two decades researching the subject and has uncovered much more evidence than anyone else.
It is, frankly, along with his follow-up book, Bannockburn Proved, the only book on the subject worth reading. The first time I read it I breathed a sigh of relief. I had actually read something which made complete sense.
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