Sick as a Dog, but still wielding the sword!

I swear I don’t think I’m going to survive this terrible, evil flu that was parading around the battleground of Bannockburn last weekend.

Hmph. Must have been an English one.

This post is especially for evilfb, because I know he’d like it best, but really it’s for me because I can’t lift my head up to do anything more strenuous. Please forgive the poor syntax and moans of agony. Okay, done bitching, I swear it…

Six-hundred-and-ninety years ago, Mel Gibson’s ‘warrior-poets’ *cough* under Robert Bruce defeated a English army three times its size somewhere near the floodplains south-east of Stirling Castle. Strangely, wee Mel wasn’t around to lend a hand, or even to impregnate anyone useful. Regardless, though after the anniversary of the battle by a few months, every year the National Trust holds a medieval faire and reenactment on the battle-site. What this means is that there’s lots of venison burgers to be had, chunky men in funny hats, and lots of cleavage. Yes, just like home. What this means is that people are the same wherever you go, even at the source. Faires are faires, and that’s that.


Except as far as we know, we’re actually walking around where thousands of men fell for Scotland’s proto-pseudo-sorta-independence.

And the weather was quite accurate, hence the icky-ickies.

So what’s to tell? There were lots of swords, lots of flags, and not a few pipe bands. People in kilts, little kids attacking their parents’ legs, and massive torrents of wind and rain that turned the battlefield into a mudbath. But as we say, better men have died in worse conditions, so we continued on and asked Ralph, our local medieval scholar, all sorts of juicy questions that he was able to clarify for us. One of the things I love so much about our history course Edinburgh and the people I’ve met is that during any one of our outings, there’s usually a budding academic well-schooled in the historical period of any given site. It’s like having your very own tour guide along, who has no ulterior financial motive for drumming up interest in the location. I love figuring that stuff out, and gathering around an effigy, a grave, or a castle wall and trading ideas and thoughts with my mates.

And there we are – the ones who are somehow still excited about wooden swords and plastic medieval armour.

But not quite as excited as this wee host, tramping across the field in search of a phantom enemy. I admire their fearlessness and bravery.

This one thought the fence would be a more formidable foe.

Perhaps one was related to Bruce, himself?

There was real armour there, as well. This particular shirt was hand-riveted – every single link.

During a break from the torrent, I managed to get a pose from Scotland’s newest American ex-pat, Brooke, along with seolta and Ralph.

Here is the commencement of the battle recreation, impressive in that everyone was using live steel and real armour. Some guys even took some large blows. Love the statue of Bruce against the sky, overlooking the battle. He would have been proud.

The English line advancing to contact. James Douglas was to fall, accurately, not long after this point.

The Scots schiltron line, after they flipped around the back side of the English charge. Nice formation. Note that the blue-and-white Saltire would have been yellow and red at this time in history.

The end of the hostilities, just before Robert faced an overweight-version of Edward II in man-to-man combat.

Here’s what stuck out the most to me about the day: before we headed off, I got the sense that much like many onlookers of many battles throughout history, we had a certain excitement about the unknown. Let’s make a day out of it, and let’s hope we don’t get crushed beneath the retreating hordes! It was like going to a football game – a bit of novelty in a much broader battle for regional dominance.

Me: So, guys…who do you think is gonna win today?

Of course, being at Bannockburn, the result was never in doubt. As the Trust boldly emblazoned across the entry tickets:

Scotland -1
England – 0

32 Responses to “Sick as a Dog, but still wielding the sword!”

  1. viscera Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 1:02 am

    Where are the coconuts?

  2. FunkyPlaid Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 1:07 am

    Right up the road at Doune Castle! They actually let you hire them out if you fancy a clomp around the premises…

  3. viscera Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 1:19 am

    As long as there's no bunnies, it sounds enticing 😛
    Seriously, I love the photo posts. Keep 'em coming 🙂

  4. FunkyPlaid Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 1:28 am

    Oh, I've saved the bunnies just for you…
    More photos are on their way…and I miss hearing about you, as well, ya know…

  5. viscera Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 2:02 am

    What, I get half a bunny now, and half 'later', eh?
    Yeah, i'm onto you, matey *shakes fist*.
    Pfft. My lack of verbiosity is a blessing lately, trust me, although you may have just goaded me into proving it. Beware the sentimentality, it's a killer.

  6. FunkyPlaid Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 2:08 am

    You crack me up, Visc.
    I'll be waiting patiently for your meandering words, the other half-a-bunny in my hot little hands…
    *waves festering carcass seductively*

  7. viscera Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 2:18 am

    Are you sure your name isn't Glenn Close?
    Tie a ribbon in your hair, and mayhap one of those nice lads will mistake you for a winsom lass…. but only if you coo 'yoohoo' and giggle a lot. Oh, and pad your bra. *nod*

  8. agntprovocateur Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 1:33 am

    it's the knights who say nih!
    ….love the photos!

  9. thistlelurid Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 1:56 am

    Ive always wanted to be the wounded or dead in a reinactment….one day….one day I shall have the chance!

  10. FunkyPlaid Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 2:03 am

    Wow! You are strange!
    I'll let the organisers know…perhaps they'll contact you and you can lie face down in the mud for an afternoon?

  11. thistlelurid Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 2:08 am

    haha…Ill only lay face down in the mud if Im allowed one of my patented long drawn-out staggering gasping overlydramatic deaths ! :*D

  12. marasca Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 1:57 am

    Anyone who hand rivets a chain shirt in this day and age and isn't getting paid for it is clearly a bit off their rocker (and/or suffers from OCD). 😉
    Nice photos, as always.

  13. FunkyPlaid Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 2:03 am

    You're right in more ways than one. Seemed like a nice chap, though.
    Glad you like the pics.

  14. original_aj Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 3:17 am

    Interesting mixture of periods in the photo – was it a trader, or was that actually supposed to be a display?

  15. FunkyPlaid Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 3:34 am

    Just some bloke pedaling his wares. I'm fairly sure that he made the shirt, and the rivets were smooth and beautiful.

  16. original_aj Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 3:37 am

    OK, my mistake then. How much was he charging for the shirt?

  17. FunkyPlaid Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 3:41 am

    Damn good question! I think I was afraid to ask on the grounds that it would have sent me into convulsions!
    I didn't know you were a mail enthusiast…

  18. original_aj Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 3:46 am

    I've only got four mail shirts, a pair of mail hose and sundry other bits beside as I type – I've actually made five mail shirts and quantities of other bits. All butted, of course. It's fascinating stuff, but I'm a bit bored of mass producing it now!
    We got to handle some period pieces at the museum a few years ago – including their C15th shirt. First thing we did was lift the sleeve to see how the armpit was done!

  19. FunkyPlaid Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 3:49 am

    Ha! Armpit, indeed…
    That's quite an impressive collection!

  20. original_aj Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 4:28 am

    The armpit is the hardest bit to get right, and nigh on impossible to describe. We had a copy of an analysis of the shirt which was published but it didn't say how that bit was done. The shaping in the body was described in detail, but the armpit was still a mystery.
    There is no perfect solution – fundamentally it's a bodge.

  21. original_aj Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 3:15 am

    I'd be inclined to agree – I've made a ton of butted mail but I've never been tempted by rivetted. It would be prohibitive;y expensive to pay anyone a reasonable wage to make one thought.
    The shirt in the picture looks like one of the Indian imported shirts that make up the vast majority of the rivetted mail in British re-enactment. The ones I've seen are really rough 'cos the rivets haven't been rounded back into the ring properly. They actually look less "right" than butted mail. And there's never been any convincing evidence that it's not the product of abusive labour conditions. They weren't very expensive, which made me suspicious. I'll stick with my butted shirts for now.

  22. avalokita Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 2:03 am

    I love your photoposts. NOTHING in America is nearly that cool. At least not in the Tri-State area.

  23. FunkyPlaid Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 2:06 am

    I'm glad you love them, which means more will be coming your way very soon.
    Of course, you're telling me this just before I come back to America for some time. I'm resigned to find as many cool things as possible floating around the States; you'll have to read on and tell me if I've succeeded…

  24. avalokita Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 2:11 am

    what part of the country are you coming back to?

  25. FunkyPlaid Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 2:30 am

    Good ol' SF.
    You ever been?

  26. avalokita Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 3:01 am

    Not since I was 5.

  27. ubernacht Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 2:54 am

    How freakin cool! Sorta puts the SCA to shame eh?
    Oh, and There was real armour there…, You are finally spelling like a Britt…nice:)

  28. FunkyPlaid Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 2:58 am

    Yeah, you said it!
    Finally spelling like a Brit? I can't stop throwing 'U's around to save my damn life!

  29. spiffington Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 6:48 am

    Or nuCLEAR aluMINIum huh?
    Here catch!
    Seriosuly though, cool pics and good reading as ever 🙂

  30. dougygyro Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 7:34 am

    Now were the people putting this on the same sort of drama reject wankers that we have over here? I seriously hope not, because my initial reaction to seeing this was to think that it was pretty cool…

  31. FunkyPlaid Says:
    October 3rd, 2004 at 7:54 am

    Some of them were wankers. The others were literally hobbits, part of the self-proclaimed Irish Society of Archers.
    They had me giggling like a schoolgirl. But I do that, don't I?

  32. evilfb Says:
    September 20th, 2004 at 5:19 pm

    Ahhh…Bannockburn oh how I love thee…. Darren you know I love it the most. Thanks for the great pictures!!!

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