In June 1314 the Scots, under Robert the Bruce, besieged the English garrison at Stirling castle. Bruce had declared himself king and, determined to oust the English, had already captured and burned many of their castles. Stirling Castle was close to the border and therefore strategically important. The English king, Edward II, determined to restore his waning reputation, led an army of 27,000 English, Welsh and Irish soldiers to ‘crush’ the 6,000-strong Scots. On 23 June, the English crossed the border to find New Road blocked by three rows of Scottish shield barriers. The English cavalry, led by the Earls of Gloucester and Hereford and Baron Robert de Clifford, failed to penetrate the Scottish defences. The English retreated after a bloody melee. On the second day, the English and Scots fought with cavalry, archers and in hand-to-hand combat, with the Scots forcing the English back into the Bannockburn River, where many drowned. The English fled and Bruce now had control of Scotland.
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