Battle of Falkirk I
Battle of Falkirk I
22nd July 1298
Name: Battle of Falkirk I
Date: 22 July 1298
War period: Medieval
Start time and Duration: Unknown
Outcome: English victory
Armies and losses: The contemporary chronicles give impossibly large numbers up to 80,000 English and 30,000 Scots and it is clear the Scot’s were outnumbered by the English. Other authors have suggested 15-18,000 English and 5-14,000 Scots
Location: Unknown, sites north and south of Falkirk have been suggested.
Map details: OS Explorer Map 349; OS Landranger map 65
Betrayal by Scottish nobles jealous of his power forced William Wallace to fight the English at Falkirk resulting in the destruction of his army.
In March 1298, following the English defeat at Stirling Bridge, William Wallace led a punitive raid into Northumberland. In response, later in 1298, Edward I assembled an army of 15,000, including veterans from his campaigns in France as well as Welsh and Irish troops. In the campaign that followed Wallace was outnumbered and forced to employ hit and run tactics, avoiding open battle, and implementing a policy of clearing or destroying resources in the path of the English army in order to weaken its ability to fight. In response Edward, who had mustered his army at Roxburgh, organised seaborne supplies to support his forces as they marched north to Edinburgh.
Wallace planned a night time attack on Edward’s army near Kirkliston, just to the north west of Edinburgh, but was betrayed by two Scottish nobles, who resented Wallace’s rise to power. He now had little alternative but to face Edward in open battle before he reached Stirling, with its strategically important castle. He chose Falkirk as the location. Though outnumbered, Wallace was forced to engage the English, choosing terrain in which he could use an area of marshy ground to protect his deployment.
Falkirk is a battle of international significance involving major military commanders of the period. It saw the Scottish army destroyed, leaving Edward I in control of south east Scotland, which he held with a few garrisons. Thereafter during the reign of Edward I another Scottish army could not be raised capable of challenging the English in the field.
A REPORT ON THE BATTLE, PREPARED FOR HISTORIC SCOTLAND BY THE BATTLEFIELDS TRUST, IS AVAILABLE FROM THE DOWNLOAD AREA ON THE LEFT