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28/02/14 12:25

FM: Bannockburn is birthplace of the modern nation

Visitor centre marking battle of 1314 opens to public on 1.3.14.

Events to mark the public opening of the Battle of Bannockburn visitor centre were led by First Minister Alex Salmond today (Friday 28 February, 2014) where the First Minister’s message was that “the remembrance of any battle, even one 700 years ago, should respect and honour the fallen.”

The state-of-the-art visitor centre – a joint project between the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland – commemorates the famous battle which took place on the site 700 years ago in 1314 and will officially open to the public on 1.3.14 (tomorrow). The new centre is the first tourist attraction in the world to use state-of-the-art motion capture techniques to immerse visitors in a realistic and historically accurate medieval battle in 3D.

The First Minister was joined by members of the community and groups involved in the project for a ceremony celebrating the successful completion of the project and the opening of the centre to the public.

Ahead of signing the first entry in the visitor book, the First Minister addressed invited guests. The First Minister said:

“Bannockburn secured the emergence of the modern Scottish nation.

“The battle was immediately deemed iconic; a colossal victory despite overwhelming odds and it was fought for the most noble of causes – the defence of king, country and community of the realm.

“As W. Mackay Mackenzie observed in his study of Bannockburn written for the centennial of 1914, ‘history is but a literary and political exercise; a mist of rhetoric has settled upon the field’. This victory was quickly and has been repeatedly chronicled in word, poetry and song.

“All battles have to be mythologized to some extent if their memory is to survive and many much more recent than Bannockburn have undergone this process. However this formative point in our history was not bought at any sort of bargain. The casualties on both sides in the Wars of Independence were enormous.

“When Eddie Morgan became our Makar, his first work was a translation of a poem about Bannockburn, written by an English eyewitness. I want to quote a passage from it now.

“How can I sing of so much blood…

I cannot number the humblings and tumblings of hundreds that fall.

Many are mown down, many are thrown down,

Many are drowned, many are found and bound”.

The poem reminds us that here at Bannockburn are places where thousands, far too many thousands, of men lost their lives. And part of the remembrance of any battle, even one 700 years ago, should be respect and honour for the fallen.

“However the inspirational central myth of Bannockburn, and indeed the essential truth of the event, lies in its preservation of Scottish freedom and independence.

“If the battle did not in itself win the war, it certainly did prevent defeat and six years later inspired the Declaration of Arbroath, to become known as Scotland’s Declaration of Independence

“The highest compliment I can pay to this centre is that it rises to its setting. Through sensitive architecture, modern scholarship and stunning computer graphics, it will enable people from Scotland and around the world to understand why Bannockburn has resonated down these ages.

“It communicates to a new generation the significance of this site as the birthplace of our modern nation. And it helps us appreciate anew that the democracy and liberty that we enjoy today, and indeed the coming peaceful opportunity for freedom, we can in the greatest part credit, to these struggles of seven centuries ago.”

The First Minister and others in the official party also unveiled a specially commissioned stainless steel graphic installation. The award-winning brand was conceptualised and designed by The Beautiful Meme and Dalton Maag, the type designers behind the Nokia brand. Those taking part in the unveiling were chosen to represent groups and organisations with an important connection to the project, or have contributed to the successful creation and delivery of the ground-breaking new centreAmongst the group marking the public opening was National Trust for Scotland Chairman Sir Kenneth Calman, Bruce descendant Lord Elgin, actor David Hayman who voices Sir James Douglas in the centre experience (trusted lieutenant of Robert the Bruce), 14 year old Milton AFC footballer Alyx MacRobbie from Bannockburn High School, and William McDowall, war veteran and IT manager at Erskine Hospital.

Sir Kenneth Calman, Chairman of the National Trust for Scotland said:

“At the cutting edge of design and technology, this fantastic new centre showcases an innovative approach to bringing our heritage to life - one which is engaging, absorbing and encourages a greater understanding of the events of 700 years ago, according to feedback so far.

“Yet, it remains connected to the long tradition of commemoration on this site – visitors can stand in the shadow of the beautifully restored monuments and survey the landscape where the events of 1314 occurred as they have done for centuries.”

Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said:

“With its ground-breaking approach, there has been a real buzz and excitement about the opening of Bannockburn, and rightly so. It takes the visitor experience to a new level using cutting edge technology to immerse everyone in the history and heritage of this iconic battle site.

“We are extremely proud that Bannockburn joins other leading heritage sites across the UK that have reaped the long-lasting benefits of HLF funding. For centuries the Battle of Bannockburn has inspired artists, writers and political thinkers worldwide. It will now inspire a whole new generation as it establishes itself as a significant international tourist destination and a valuable education resource.”

Notes to editors

Images are available via the below contact details.

A new look for 2014: The Battle of Bannockburn project is an exciting partnership between the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland, funded by the Scottish Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund. An innovative new visitor centre, sensitive landscaping and the painstaking conservation of the hilltop monuments will change the way visitors experience Bannockburn, making it a truly world-class site for this defining moment in Scotland’s history.

The new Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre will use state of the art installations to interpret and explain the circumstances that led up to this pivotal event in our history and its consequences. The Scottish Government has committed £5 million through Historic Scotland, and £4.1 million has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The design team include:

  • Architectural Team - Reiach and Hall with Sinclair Knight Merz (Engineer), Turner and Townsend (QS) and KJ Tait (M&E Engineers)
  • Interpretation: Concept and Design - Bright White Ltd
  • Landscape Architects - Ian White Associates
  • 3D Media Research, Development and Realisation - Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation (CDDV)

Tickets are on sale now for the new Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre, opening 1 March. Entry is limited and by timed slots only. Ticket costs are between £8 for a child/concession and £30 for a family ticket for 2 adults and up to 4 children. Trust members go free. Secure yours now by enlisting at

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. Funding for the Bannockburn Centre was made by HLF’s Board who are responsible for awarding grants of over £2million to projects throughout the UK. Grant applications of under £2million are considered by HLF’s Committee for Scotland.

To date HLF has invested over £611m in Scotland’s heritage. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, every aspect of Scotland’s heritage has benefitted.

Interpretation designers Bright White Ltd worked with an Academic Advisory Panel featuring some of the UK’s top historians and expert 3D modellers at the Centre for Documentation and Visualisation, a partnership between the Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studios and Historic Scotland, to develop the new interpretation of the battle set to excite 21st century audiences.