30 Jan 2014
Thursday 23rd January, I had taken the day off work and made my way to Bannockburn for 11 am where I joined 7 strangers to become part of a mixed group of volunteer testers of the Bannockburn Visitor Experience. None of us knew exactly what to expect, but brought our interest in history, story telling and our curiosity, open to the experiences we would have.
In the visitor centre Battlemaster Amy Cassells introduced us to our visit, telling us to keep our minds open, gather as much information about battles as we could, ask questions and listen carefully to anyone that we might meet to prepare ourselves for battle. That was enough for me.... I was on full-on information gathering mode from then on.
I won’t give too much away about what to expect – that’s the beauty of the experience. If you immerse yourself in it, you will find out everything you need to know about the battle and what it felt like to be a part of it. Everywhere you look there is something to see, feel, touch, hear and experience. I absolutely loved the fact that there was so much to take in and learn. Before I went in to the battle room, I had gathered enough information to lead an army into a medival battle!
Which, funnily enough, is what I then had to do... My initial thrill at being named Robert the Bruce in the battleroom quickly turned to sheer terror at the responsiblity I now felt for my 10,000 men! What if I let them down? Our Battlemaster led us through the area, the rules of the game and supported and challenged us as the battle got underway. I managed to get us through the first day of the battle without too many casualties, based on what I had learned earlier. However, on day 2, I got far too excited and ended up leading my trusted commanders to certain death in Stirling. That’s not what I meant to do, but I found myself getting carried away!
So, advice to anyone going into battle at Bannockburn is to gather all of the information that you can, keep a cool head and remember not to lose your head on the battlefield!