Old Stirling Bridge

Old Stirling Bridge is not that old.

I mean, it’s old compared with lots of things: the state of Virginia, USA; the Wallace Monument; sliced bread.

But compared with real old Stirling bridge, it’s not that old at all.

The real old Stirling bridge was the site of the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. In this battle, the troops of English king Edward I advanced on the massed ranked of William Wallace’s Scottish army. They thought they would easily defeat this rag-tag group of Scottish peasants, which is why they weren’t really concentrating on the whole *strategy* thing.

As it was, the other side of the bridge led to a vast swamp. This particular part of Scotland is strangely flat, and the mud is gooey and thick. The  advancing force got stuck, and the terrifying horses of the heavy cavalry turned into terrified and dangerous horses. The foot troops, too, were largely marooned and, into this mess, the Scottish forces attacked.

What followed could possibly be described as a massacre, and at the very least a slaughter – over half of Edward I’s troops were killed. Defeated, they retreated back over the narrow bridge to safety. The English king eventually won this war, and took William Wallace to London to be hung, drawn and quartered. They then paraded his entrails around the country as a warning to any other hopeful rebels.

But all of this happened 20 miles downriver from Old Stirling Bridge. This bridge was built around 1500, which was basically yesterday, which is why we didn’t pay it any attention at all.

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