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Dunbar 1296 sets the scene for the 1650 re-enactments and much more ...

Scottish Battlefields Trust hosts Family Day to raise understanding of Dunbar's battles .. with much more to come in September this year

Visitors to Dunbar's Lauderdale Park were transported back to 1296 last weekend (30th April/1st May 2016) as the Scottish Battlefields Trust [SBT] marked the 720th anniversary of the 'First' Battle of Dunbar.

The 1296 battle was the first field engagement of the Wars of Scottish Independence, and was fought near the village of Spott just south of Dunbar. The forces of King John of Scotland were attempting to crush the vanguard of the English army which had advanced on Dunbar, whilst the main body was still at Berwick-upon-Tweed.

But things did not go to plan, and after the Scots came down from the heights at Brunt Hill they were counter-charged by the Earl of Surrey and his heavy horse and were utterly routed. Countless Scots prisoners were taken. King Edward I of England arrived the following day and oversaw the surrender of Dunbar Castle. King John's days were numbered, with Scottish leadership thoroughly discredited by the collapse of any serious resistance in the wake of defeat at Dunbar.

In 2016 it was an altogether more child-friendly affair. The SBT chose to mark the battle with a Family Weekend. Visitors could visit a Medieval Soldiers' Encampment, hosted by Britannia XIV & Friends, trying on an array of armour and feeling the weight of the weapons of the day. There was a chance for children to try their hand at archery, and the Scottish Battlefields Trust held its first sand-box archaeology activity, which proved a real hit with our junior excavators!

Most excitingly though, the children were invited to form their ranks and files and test their courage in battle, which led to a great deal of parental amusement!

Strong winds and bitter rain may have hampered the setting up, but the sun came out for the event days and a wonderful time was had by all. The SBT was immensely encouraged as visitors came in their hundreds, and we are hopeful that we have helped raise the profile of this significant but oft forgotten battle.

The Scottish Battlefields Trust is grateful to Dunbar Community Council for its support of this event - which support will again be present in September when the 'Second' Battle of Dunbar, fought and won in 1650 by Oliver Cromwell, will be re-enacted on a grand scale with the assistance of the English Civil War Society - this time at Dunbar Golf Club on the weekend of September 17th/ 18th. The SBT took the opportunity to foretell the future action, and to recruit new members besides!

Published Date: May 4th 2016

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