Making the Map

What is Wrong with Scottish History?

By William Scott BA, BSc, MEd, FIMA, FSA Scot

Revised on Monday 10th May, 2019

Two things are necessary to prove what occurred in an event like a battle.

  1. A map of the battle area and every relevant source, translated in one volume, where every statement pro and con an issue can be counted. The results are dazzling in this case: BR p254; GB p31,32. In the main battle, the Scots all fought on foot.
  2. Get the best map possible. Roy's two maps of Stirlingshire c1750 are superb as to details. To make a map of the battle area in 1314, first make a single map (there is an overlap in the originals). I called mine: 'Roy Maps Joined: RMJ'. The join I made in 1999 is not perfect but nearly so. Plate 30b and 31 after p408 BR. The first is not quite perfect but good enough, the only imperfection in the join seen there. Then remove every detail from the map which occurred after 1314 and before 1750. Exhaustively trawl every paper and book in the history of the place for every necessary change. One thing more is necessary, never seen before: make a fully justified map, an important first. That is, every detail on the map created is carefully explained and justified in relation to the ground and other maps like OS 1860, and revisions, Grassom's, Thomson's, Miller's, Munro's, Edgar's, Jefferys' and Pont's (not much use, a little only) etc. and more modern maps like Christison's, Bartholomew's and Harveys: some of which are invaluable. I have about 60 OS Explorer maps; and Landrangers, which are less accurate: dead wrong in a few places, only seen on the ground. The justified map can even be triangulated approximately, despite Roy's being untriangulated. This problem took years to solve in BP; could not be done in BR. Note: woodland can be added for 1314. A technique was tried in BR p 405-409. Later maps of mine are more accurate in BP, GB.

Compare Roy's map of Bute c1750 with a modern OS map of Bute and prepare to be astounded. It is very close to the best OS map: only in the W Kyle is there a difference. Take some measurements. Roy's intended scale was to be 1000 yards to the inch. One measure across Bute is 1400 yards to the inch. It is mathematically impossible to join untriangulated maps, or bits of maps, perfectly.

But an approximation can be very good, as here (Bannockburn), and is good enough. [The important measurements can be very accurate, as here. What matters are the details.] The justification of the maps of Bannockburn occupies 100 pages in BR, 22 A4 pages in BP and far more than 100 pages in GB, a volume altogether of about 240 royal Octavo pages. The justification, with its amendments, can be checked and confirmed by others, as this has been. It can even be repeated. That makes it science. When the landscape is constantly being altered, more and more concrete added every year, the importance of the justification and the great effort to make it is worthwhile. That was obvious: drove the rigour and the effort. It took at least six years full time. That is why I did not grudge a decent fraction of a thousand days spent at the battle area and many other related places. You need to travel back and forth, time after time, until you understand what happened to the ground. You need to talk to long-time residents. The ground itself is the best resource there is. Of course you must not be diverted by what mistaken people believe. You seek the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That demand is a duty. Sacred, in my case. I knew no one else would manage it. The landscape was changing rapidly.

I remember lying down on the ground in the rain on the Dryfield, trying to understand the original line of the Pelstream and the extent of the slope with a camera and a level. School was out. A child came by and asked what I was doing. I explained: Investigating the Battle of Bannockburn. 'It wis here. Where the school is. Oor teacher telt us,' was the response. The one place it could not be because of the serious ridges and depressions all over it which made camping (no water) and a cavalry charge, over sharp, steep ridges, impossible.

© Elenkus: The Bannockburn Area 23rd June, 1314

© Elenkus ~ Map of the Bannockburn Area, 23rd June 1314 about 4am. Click to enlarge.

© Elenkus: The Bannockburn Area 23rd June, 1314 about 4:15am

© Elenkus ~ Map of the Bannockburn Area, 23rd June 1314 about 4:15am. Click to enlarge.

A few important details in the ground. Why? Wait and see. Gold dust follows.

The line of the Pelstream. The Pelstream rose on Gillies Hill in 12 springs (some may have been removed since by the quarry company). This matters! Halbert's Bog, shown brilliantly by Roy in 1750, before any drainage of marshes anywhere in the Forth Valley had taken place (after 1767), received a huge quantity of water falling as rain on the W half of Coxet Hill and the ridge up to Gillies Hill from the Bannock. This means that the ground (which falls to the north in the top third of the bog) made the Pelstream a formidable torrent at times. Confirmed by the deep wedge about 100ft high and the same wide, cut out of the ground by it, after crossing St Ninians Main Street. The direction of that wedge is the line of the original Pelstream. Go and look, the main defect of our medieval-minded historians over the centuries who prefer to argue (in a library) the number of teeth in a horse, than do so. The Pelstream was an open stream until 1945. A man who lived beside it on Main St then, Mr Joseph Borek, told me. He saw the effect of culverting the stream under the street. A water spout forty feet high because the torrent was underestimated. That makes it significant during the battle, for it had rained heavily just before. How do we know? Because two sources, one of them written in 1314, report the pools of water that cover the Carse at such times. Pools so important that the road had to be led around them, as every worthy map back to Roy's reveals. The road zigzags across the Carse. See it on GB p 141,142, 143 and aerials at the start red 2,5. [It even zig zags around the Knoll from Falinn, when, without it, it could have gone straight to St Ninians. The Knoll existed in 1750 and therefore in 1314 (no reason not to).] There was one tributary of the Pelstream to the south, a foot wide and a yard down, out of sight, of no significance (P1 in BR p82). Even a genius like Roy missed it: hard to see. There was no tributary to the north (Barrow, p213, 3rd Ed; p279 4th) for Livilands Bog (which Barrow forgot) occupied a large area [750 yards by 250 yards] in OS 1922, shown beautifully by Bartholomew (made for Miller's paper in 1931; See a copy on BR p390). Thus, Barrow did not understand the significance of the wedge cut in the ground by the Pelstream, that this gave the original line and thus did not see that the two bounding streams of this Carse (Balquhidderock) where the English camped among the pools around the Knoll, [photos at different occasions: BR: plate14-18; BP 33 red-37; GB 6-9, 11-12 red, 130, 36-140, 337-338] could be used to imprison the English in their camp. The two lines must be joined to show the original line of the Pelstream [on BR p82, P2 joins P1 because the slope of the ground demands it: water in the wedge goes into the Carse following its direction and the slope]. See the blue line in GB p96: that is the course of the original Pelstream. Once the map is correct, the strategy is obvious: The English MUST camp in the Carse because it was the best place for miles around and it had a Knoll in the centre, for the King to camp on (and overlook his army), and pools of water (as Barbour tells us BK12, 395) and bounding streams to water animals and men on a midsummer day. They usually camped there because of it: 1298, 1304 etc. Vita 51: 'The day being spent, the whole army met at the place where it was to bivouac that night.'

Once the Pelstream and the Bannock burn are drawn correctly, the Scottish move is obvious: attack the English in the Carse and imprison them between the streams. If the Scots get really close, the English cavalry will be deprived of space to get up speed and easily halted. Then they are cavalry no longer.

For centuries, historians have bleated about peat bogs in the Carse and even that an English camp there was impossible. Why? Ignorance and stupidity, as usual. General Roy was a brilliant map maker. He shows, 1754/5, four great bogs in the battle area with phenomenal detail, never equalled. But not in the Carse! Besides, no drainage took place anywhere in the Forth Valley until after 1767 (Hansom& Evans, 'The Carse of Stirling, p71, Scot. Geog Journal 116 (1)). So Roy's rendition is doubly confirmed. Because they were all speculators who knew nothing, of course they reinforced each other's prejudices. It never occurred to them to go and look at the ground and study all the maps and read all the papers. This information was all available in 2004 BP; a lot of it in 2000, BR. That is twenty years ago. Why was it not taken up? Arrogance, snobbery and a wish to suppress what was inconvenient to those in control. No map before BR ever showed the Pelstream rise on Gillies Hill, or even crossing St Ninians Main Street! This matters because of the force of the torrent in the conditions just before the battle. Barrow's Pelstream (p213, 3rd ed; p279 4th) does not even reach as far as Main Street, as if it could start there: impossible: where would the water come from in flat ground? Of such elementary errors do great mistakes arise. That is what happens when only two days are spent walking the ground, which he thought was a lot. Without drawing the Pelstream accurately and understanding its width, depth and torrent, after heavy rain, (without modern drainage) in 1314, the tactics that led to the triumph cannot be understood. Why is this right? Because the Pelstream leaves Gillies Hill, crosses Ninians Main Street, enters the wedge and heads directly down it to the Carse and goes to Kersemills. Any local knows this; the farmer, Mr Oswald, for one; and it is shown on some old maps and the slope demands it. Efforts were made to turn the stream and send it to Stirling as the Town Burn. There were signs of it in 1999. But the original line of the stream is obvious: out into the Carse to Kersemills directly. Anything else is impossible. The information about Halbert’s Bog decanting into it after rain makes the extent of the torrent plain, even though it cannot be seen as much now, due to drainageand culverting.

The Bannockburn: in seven centuries, several important things were never noticed by any historian. The first is the wedge cut by it. This is wider and deeper than that cut by the Pelstream and defines the original line, etched out and permanent because of it. Notice the occasional places clear of trees. These occur at oxbows in the burn, where, at times of severe rainfall, the stream would overrun the curve and kill any trees that had rooted there. This tells us that the Bannock burn was at times torrential. Even today, this is still the case. At Milton Ford, the only crossing place on the road to Stirling from Falkirk (and Edinburgh), after some rain, the ford is quickly impassable to foot travellers who would be swept away by it. Photo GB 18 red. Thus, before the first bridge in 1516, Spitall's, a mile below Milton Ford, when rain had fallen and the burn was in spate, travellers would have to wait at the Ford until the water level dropped before trying to cross. To while away the time they would light a fire and cook bannocks. Hence the name of the burn. There would be a clearing on each side for the fires, wood chopped; but the woodland in 1314 would have control elsewhere. It still has control in places close by with 25,000 people living near. In 1314, there was a handful; about 100 at St Ninians, the only village in the battle area. GB p383-390. Today, there is a reservoir which makes little difference, since the burn rises miles away, about six miles SW of Kippen at Earls Hill. Thus all the water that falls on these many hills would make its way then, as it does now, into the burn before it reaches Milton Ford. Why the difference in width and height of the wedges of the Bannock and Pelstream? They are roughly proportional to the different areas of catchment of rainwater, the first much greater.

The line of the Bannock in the Carse is important: at the Great Bend, it turns and goes back on itself before heading NE again. After heavy rain, the burn crosses the bend, making a wide moving pond on the former grassy salient. BP red 18, GB p332. Roy shows this as having trees which can still be seen: they are spaced out and not above twenty feet or so. The ground there slopes to the burn and serves to preserve the roots which can drain into the burn. GB p110. The rest of the Carse is very flat, about 35 ft above sea level. Only the coloured copies of Roy's map show these trees. Barrow used B&W, though advised by me to buy the coloured, all that Scottish libraries had to start with till about 2004. Shading in Roy is of four types: as above: very light green/brown of small trees spaced out in the Carse near the burn BR plate 9: W side of the burn; darker brown on the Dryfield, some of it whins, but light woodland too; big trees shown dark, spotted, honeycomb, because spaced out on Balquhiderock Wood and Gillies Hill and a band of shading like that in BR Plate 9 at Greenyards; BP plate 18, red, light/dark brown. Barrow thought Roy's shading meant high ground. He would not admit that there was so much woodland in the battle area, despite the proof: Shading around the base of Coxet Hill means woodland because the top is unshaded: BR plate 3; GB p87, p203. Had shading meant high ground, the top of Coxet Hill should have been shaded, being higher still. A second proof is in BR plate 3, GB p90,203: two bands of shading are in the Dryfield where the parallel lines of slope do not change across them. If shading were high ground, they would have to change! His failure of understanding and refusal to be shown were fatal. Playing god was more important to him than the truth.This was his only criticism of BR: what he took to be my mistake about shading being woodland. He was wrong. He had nothing good to say about BR. In 20 years, he never admitted his error. He refused to support my election as FRHistS in the year 2000 because of this alone. Wrote that a few published papers were what was required. He made sure none of mine were published. His many errors would have been exposed then. Historians for centuries (except Christison) have ignored woodland, which does not appear in their maps, as if it were a modern invention: not so. BR was worth 50 papers,100 even: more progress in this one book than in seven centuries. BR p254, et prior, is worth a Phd. What Phd ever did something like that? The procedure solves almost every issue in almost every history subject! BR p157,158, another; Ch19, a third; Ch20, a 4th; Ch24, a description of the battle.

I never met Barrow. We spoke on the phone briefly two or three times and corresponded rarely. I sent him an analysis of the battle area to show the extent of woodland and offered to show him on the ground. He denied receiving it; refused discussion: could not hold up his end and knew it. He had never returned to the battle area since his two days in the early 60s. He never understood that Barbour (1375-8), on his own, was a useless source (too late: 1375-8) or that Lanercost, Scalacronica, Vita, Trokelowe and Brut y Tywysogyon, all counted from 1314 (because, partly, of the work of Sir F.C. Bartlett FRS at Cambridge on undergrads.) and were far superior to Barbour on many issues. Only when supported, was Barbour worthy. Even, that Le Baker, with bad Latin, still has gold dust: the failure of English archers explained by him. That Barrow thought he could show that Bannockburn was a place in 1314 by a load of documents all much later, some of them centuries later, was a sign of serious ineptitude. BR plate 30b after p408, shows a detail from Roy's map which means Bannockburn was not even a village by 1750: 4 houses (one of them down a steep slope in another world) 150 yds apart is not a place! The place in 1750 was at Newmarket, half a mile away to the south, where there are a dozen houses, on both sides of the street. He read that in BR in 2000 and learnt nothing. Not the worst of his errors! Duncan was also asked to support my election: no reply. I knew of no one else in history. [I had been invited to apply to the Institute of Physics in the 1990s when I attended some of its conferences. Prof Munn (he of the famous report), a fellow, et al, had read some of my papers and articles: saw my enthusiasm for Maxwell; my best students could prove his equations by 16, as he would know from the papers and the many prizes won. My doings on the Scottish Mathematical Council would be known and in the British Association for the Advancement of Science, whose conferences I had often attended (with Michael Atiyah et al); knew I had read the Einstein papers. Worry about finding the fees but mainly, failing to realise the extent of my own insight, before all these discoveries in history, I reluctantly declined. A pity. I might have been harder to obstruct had I become an FInstP. At that time it might have been possible. They seemed to want me; it was their idea. Now more difficult. I would have been able to bring them onside and that would have made a difference: the kind of logic in my history research, they would have absorbed instantly. I would not have been a lone wolf, but one in a pack driven by ideas and truth, so unlike our history community.]

The Great Bend was an important problem for the Scots. If they could not reach it in their march across the Carse, they would have to defend a line across the Carse about 100 yards more. [The English had to camp out of bowshot of Balquhiderock Wood] Narrowing the space the Scots had to defend against the English cavalry charge was important. But it was crucial for Bruce set his pikes close to the English cavalry lines to cut down the space for their charge and deprive them of speed. That is why Scottish casualties were light: only two knights killed. GB Ch 12 p297-300 shows that the Scots set their pikes TWICE! Another Phd. Like others, that one was unlikely to be discovered by anyone, at any time in the future. Historians are devoted to the notion that nothing can be proved (so they make no effort, the landscape changes out of recognition and error prejudices become increasingly embedded); mathematicians think that everything can: that that is what scholarship is about. [Except for indeterminate propositions: Godel Theorem territory, 1931 etc; Paul Cohen, 1963, Continuum Hypothesis]

Where did the woodland end in the Carse in 1314? GB p90-93. Roy shows the woodland (a triangle) along the mill lade in the Carse from the Bannock burn in 1750. In 1860, there is less woodland in the Carse: GB p91, p92. The line of the lade is the same. Roy's map points to magnetic north, not true north, as OS 1860 does. So that kink is important. The two tell us that there is less woodland in 1860. The woodland in 1314 is likely to be similar in 1750 because of the low population in the area between the dates: not enough people to cut many trees; enough trouble just staying alive; just enough for firewood, easily replaced by natural seeding. You have to turn Roy's map, p90, about 18 degrees counter clockwise to make the line of St Ninians Main St match the line of it in OS1860. This sort of reasoning is almost unknown among historians; among scientists, especially the mathematical variety, it is natural. Mathematicians spend their lives making beautiful arguments to prove things. An argument for the improved education of the historian. There are thousands of such arguments in these books. They are decisive. Many historians are not equipped to understand them; many laymen are. Connect this with the report of Cowan's failures in his review of my books in the 1314 Bannockburn Conference Report (2016) where, on 236, para 32 line7-8, he shows that he does not understand the Charisma-Population Argument on BR p157-158, p266; BP p94,95,108,132,205,212; GB p41. And connect further to Duncan's failure even to reply to my request for his support in an FRHistS. These three (with Barrow) distinguished professors have shown a failure of insight which is disastrous for progress in their subject. Mistranslating 'pulis' as streams: (Duncan, 1997, BK 12 p467 line 395. It should be pools, is a phenomenal error that itself held up the proof of the battle site! They do not understand short, simple arguments that are decisive in solving problems in history. The C-P Argument BR p157-158. The Scots on foot Argument BR p254. That Roy's shading means woodland, not high ground. The Woodland in the Carse, GB p90-93. That Bannockburn took its name from the stream not the place because there was no place Bannockburn in 1314, not even in 1750! That it could not be proved to be a place in 1314 with a pile of documents, every one of them dating from after 1314, some of them centuries later (Barrow, p214; BR, 83-102). History cannot progress until the minds of those in control are capable of dealing with such simple arguments which are decisive. No wonder they obstruct new work, new procedures (like counting every statement pro and con and tabulating results of all relevant documents), new discoveries (like Bruce leading the entire Scots army on foot because he had to, to decide where to set his pikes) as seen sources tell us GB p31,32 [Never seen before in seven centuries!]. And because of their intellectual shortcomings, there is no progress, because they obstruct its dissemination! And pretend, as Cowan does in Bannockburn: and Legacy p236, footnote 65, that Duncan's error is a minor matter (translation slightly modified!) as if he had understood all along, the tactic for denying credit in overturning catastrophic errors children should not make. If he did, why did he never overturn it himself in 1997? He wrote about the battle in the Scotsman ten years later and showed he knew nothing. That error of Duncan’s was a catastrophe! It held up progress in the subject for 20 years and Cowan had nothing to say: he swallowed it like the rest. Every historian who saw this error should have been up in arms against it! It is childish, stupid; children should not make such errors! It is a tactic we saw before in Barrow, now Cowan does it: makes it seem nothing much. It means they can all go on playing at being historians who make progress. They do not! Contrary to Cowan, the population of the battle area and St Ninians and Scotland in 1314 and 1750 is essential for the C-P, for the woodland on the map (to show that so many trees shown by Roy could not be cut previously because of the lack of people to do it. p236 para 3 line 7.) He just has no interest in calculations. They are essential and he still does not see why. The C-P depends on the whole population. It only has no force, if and only if, the population of Scotland in 1314 is under 320,000, far less than any other figures ever given but justified by 20 years of war, famine and disease. [Rel chs in BR,BP,GB]. Numbers really do make sense. They must be consistent. 6,000 Scots at Bannockburn makes no sense when Bruce is a charismatic leader with the whole year to collect and train his army for a battle in front of Stirling. But Recognise this: THERE IS NOEVIDENCE WHATEVER THAT THE SCOTS FIELDED 6,000 (or the English 20,000). They divided 20,000 by three because Barbourhad 30,000 Scots to 100,000 English, when they did not believe Barbour’s figures! And the English figures belong to a different battle years later. That is not evidence.

Why does Cowan et al not view these various arguments (of mine) as crucial, intellectual gems? Partly because they do not appreciate such things, have no experience of finding them, still less, proving them. Partly, it is a failure of understanding: Barrow really did not understand that Roy's shading meant woodland and the sheer economy of the arguments to prove it were an irritant. He was angry at being contradicted; offended. He expected me to defer to his gravitas as the professor with the authoritative book on the subject. IMPOSSIBLE! No able mind could. He had not been educated to think that way or to see the beauty of them. But a lot of it is sour grapes. They could not do it, so they do not want anyone else to succeed where they failed. Least of all an outsider, poaching on their territory. That is a lot of it. The ambition to acquire status and keep it is basic to them all. They do not really care about the truth; only that their current version of it is dominant and them with it. They will bury anything which casts the slightest slur on their work. The public, mistakenly imagine that a professor of history is decent, moral and highly intelligent, none of which are true in many cases, as here, as the foregoing shows again and again. That he would be incapable of intellectual dishonesty of any kind. That is nonsense. Read the Appendix in GB p414-439. Stupidity reigns in history. Consider this. Barrow wanted to know what the weather was like on 24th June 1314, the day of the battle. He decided it would be a good idea to ask Professor Bruck, the astronomer, in 1965. What answer was given? Sunny. Since it was midsummer it was probably a nice day. Bruck had no way of calculating such a thing. He just fobbed Barrow off with the obvious answer. Stupidity. And generations have been swallowing this mush for half a century.

Where was the battle line? It is defined by the pond in front of the Knoll shown on Roy's map as a finite, black line, in dead flat ground, which is what it should be at about 1,000 yards to the inch. The English camp had to include the pond but not much further: arrows could be shot 400 yards in expert hands. In a paper of about 2002, I had found 14 parameters which precisely defined the battle line. It was never published: black balled. Several elegant proofs have yet to be published. Bruce fought in the centre which is at the pond. He would have known all about it beforehand: what to do. Bruce led the entire army on foot. GB p31,32. Closing off the Carse was the first objective. But against the dark background of Balquhidderock Wood on its steep 60 ft slope, few saw his advance across the Carse. Having set his pikes, he realised the English were so overconfident they were mainly drunk, singing or asleep. He got his men up, led them closer and reset the pikes. King Edward, Umphraville and Gloucester et al, up on the Knoll 60 ft high, could see them from there but they could do nothing: no command and control. So the Scots march was very close because there was nothing they could do to prevent it. Gloucester tried but his men did not recognise him and did not follow him. A brave but futile move. Every Scot had, ideally, a 15ft pike and a hand axe on a string on the wrist [Trokelowe, Annales p84]. GB rear cover shows the formation: kneeling, pikes over the shoulder of those in front; butts given a dunt into the ground an inch or so. Then 14 pikes, 7 each side, hit the charging knight, momentum taken by the ground, not the man. The pikes were expected to break and did. No problem: successive charging knights were stopped by those ahead of them. The cavalry, not out of a trot, was halted and then cavalry no longer: pulled down and slain. Bruce planned it and knew it would work.

Until the publication of BR in 2000, Scottish historians believed the same thing that their ancestors believed in the early14th century: that 6,000 Scots beat 20,000 English, on the Dryfield (Duncan confirmed this in writing: Watson, in her report, 2001, agreed, Barrow, taken to be the authority, still believed it in 2013 (classic edition) p273) and Keith’s Scottish cavalry charge chased the English archers off the field as Barbour said. How this was achieved was a complete mystery. It was all wrong and is all clear now. It has all been proved, all the errors demolished in BR and the books that followed: BP,GB,GS,BGB and Bannockburn: The Poem, in all of which there are original discoveries and advances in the maps. The Scottish History community will respond as before by gradually adopting the discoveries as if they were their own opinion, without mentioning the reason for the change. The value of proof and of justified maps and novel procedures for solving problems in history will be ignored, as if these never existed. That way, they can continue to present a face to the world that suggests they were of some use. Not so. They were all utterly useless for all the years of this research and did nothing but obstruct it. A supporter of BR went to a history conference c2002 and asked Prof Watson about BR. 'I know the book you mean,' she replied, 'but we don't mention it.' It never appeared in bibliographies, nor did the other books BP,GB etc. Cowan's heavily biased review of 2016 is the first mention.

PS: A few people have complained that my map cannot be correct because it is different from Barrow's made in 1965. Imagine the frustration of one who gave up years of life to producing the best map of the battle area there is ever likely to be, because the ground is changing all the time, making it increasingly impossible! I believe I caught it just in time. Knew it was a duty. Of course they are unaware that Barrow only spent two days walking the battle area and 'mainly in the 100ft and 200ft contour areas', as he told me (as if to say, 'I confined my attention to these; if there is an error, that is why it is.' Nonsense! He should have dealt with the whole area.) And that I spent several years, full time, visiting it and related locations a decent fraction of a thousand times, one reason why mine is better. But the main reason is that I made a fully justified map: everything explained in terms of the ground, the documents and the maps, old and new, which could be examined in years now past and to come. Did anyone notice Barrow's errors between 1965 and 2000? No, not the done thing. They all took it for granted. That bad map of his made understanding the battle tactics impossible but became embedded. That is why it was essential to correct these errors and prove everything, for otherwise, he would have called it a difference of opinion: not so. With the landscape changing, because the historians do not know where the battle was and where important skirmishes were, and the Council getting money to build everywhere, it was vital to get everything understood and proved. David Torrie of DC Thomson's, Dundee, offered to find and pay for a professional to draw my maps for BR. The man assumed Barrow's were correct (because never challenged). He had to be fired. I learned to do it myself.

Our Historians worship at the altar of 'consensus'. Cowan says so in his review in Bannockburn: Battle and Legacy, 2016 p237 para 2 line 3. Watson [i], when commissioned to determine the site in 2001, made no effort: she took the six sites and stuck a pin in the middle 'where her schoolteacher said it was': on the Dryfield. Duncan wrote to me in the 1990s about the beliefs of the Scottish History Community: the 500 Scottish light cavalry demolishing thousands of English archers, the 6,000 Scots beating 20,000 English, the battle in the Dryfield where Barrow put it - all of them impossible - that 'we all believe this'. What good is consensus when it has been utterly mistaken for seven centuries? And the actual truth, which would inspire the entire country for every generation, had it not been buried to save the faces of the consensus, kicked in the face and rolled in the mud out of sight for twenty years? Consensus is seen to be a poor sort of God. They should take up courses in learning to think: mathematical-science would be a good start, philosophy would help and psychology too. For they have already, that much is clear. Logic and cartography and what to do with sources, these too. And Latin, if they are too proud to ask for help, as some are.

Time they gave up consensus and worshipped the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And took up proof, a condition of which is idealistic, energetic work for years, head down on the job, day after day, regardless of expense or other matters. And insight, for which many have no aptitude, lacking the education. Barrow's two days at the battle area, he thought 'a lot', Watson spent six weeks at her report: no wonder it was useless: error riddled. Tipping's recent exploit in the Carse was begun in April and over in a few months, published by November 2014 after months wasted passing it around all these folk for their approval, with a dozen names on it, each being paid for a day or so a week. That achieved nothing and they said so: 'The thesis.. could not be tested..But the approach is not wrong.. the need for science led reconstructions has not lessened. These are the only types not capable of hyperbole.' [ii] Their map had P1 parallel to the escarpment! Impossible. The name 'Cockspow' had been added to a stream in 2014 that never had a name before on any map because it came out of a bog drained in the 18thC. So they had not noticed because they did not examine the old maps. What was the paper for? Not to draw a map of the battle area, to exclude the Dryfield where Bruce slew de Bohun and defended the road, was a gross fundamental error. How can you investigate a battle when it takes place over two days in several places by leaving out nearly all of them? You could not see the bounding streams of the Carse, of where the Scots were to attack from. To suggest that mine was not science and theirs was, because they are attached to universities, when, instead, they have too many duties there to have the time to investigate anything properly is foolish. My science is infinitely superior as many have seen. It is correct and they have done nothing to show that it is not because they cannot. Had theirs been science, they would have done that.

Their idea of how to do history has to change! No wonder there is no progress and papers are worthless. Getting a dozen names on it is no advantage: it means the progenitor (Barrow, probably) was really worried: He got the name Cockspow put on it to try to support his failed theory that pow means stream. He had to get a lot of academic support so that no one would dare to criticise it. What a mistake: of course they get in each other's way and some, unknown to them, are not the experts they appear. How could anything useful be done in that time? They were children at play, not scholars seeking the truth, the one thing now available, that will inspire the people of Scotland for every generation, if they ever get to hear it.

What this catalogue of elementary failures by history professors shows (this list of stupidities!) by Barrow, Duncan (any Scottish child should know that pulis=pools and not streams!) Watson, Cowan et al is that they are not equipped to discover the decisive insights necessary to advance the subject. That there has been no progress in understanding what occurred at Bannockburn in June 1314 in seven centuries till now. But there is another factor just as important: dishonesty. Covering up their mistakes by burying the messenger.

How often has this happened before? Duncan's error in mistranslating pulis is a catastrophe, not a minor change in a footnote 65, p237. [iii] Bruce's Genius Battle 2013, a reconstruction (not a novel), did not set out to prove the battle site: 3 earlier scholarly books did that: BR, 2000, BP 2004/5, GB 2012. Some proofs were given in BGB for the sake of those who had not seen them. I was not the first to 'suggest' that Scots all fought on foot. I was the first to prove it, when everyone else, for centuries!, believed in a Scottish cavalry charge. Cowan is dishonest and does not even realise it. This is what they do to try and diminish the effect of the advances which they do not want because they do not want the truth. Cowan was judge of the Saltire Research Award in 2005 and BP was entered and proved the battle site and what took place, not once but several times, in different styles of proof. Irvine Smith QC who taught history at Glasgow University for 12 years, wrote on the cover of BP that its author should get a doctorate from every university in Scotland. But Cowan did not read it, showed it in an article (in the Scotsman) full of errors, all disproved in BP, angered supporters of mine who told me of it. That is why he is dishonest. Trying to save face! Cowan would have been too busy trying to save his university campus at Dumfries to have the time to read it; probably read none of the entries. He should have withdrawn as judge but needed the status conferred by the job. And held up the discovery of the proof of the battle site by 15 years more, all by that one action.

This is the most important page ever written in this research of thirty years. There has been no progress in understanding Bannockburn in seven centuries because the history professors involved do not have the skill of identifying the kinds of insights necessary to solve the problems. Why not? Because they were never educated to do so: never saw any, never made any and so do not appreciate them. Yet they are, at root, elementary logic. Worse, they are dishonest. When the skill is available, they bury it because it shows them up. Tell any lies necessary to get out of trouble and tell them publicly because they can, since they control what is published. They care far more for themselves and their reputations than for the truth. God forbid that their mistakes should ever come to light! That is their God, not Truth. Yet the solution is simple: when a mistake is made, correct it and apologise. That is all it takes. Then the literature does not get filled up with the mistakes of speculating professors who could not admit them and remains free of impediments to researchers who do have the capacity for making fresh insights and proving results. And who alone have the ability to make progress in Scottish History.


[i] A critique is in BP p152-175. Asked to determine the site of the battle of Bannockburn, she assumes only a consensus is possible; has the Pelstream rise within the Carse like a rabbit out of a hat: no understanding that water pressure must be generated in high hinterland i.e. that water does not run uphill. Of course Bruce's brilliant tactics are a complete mystery because of this. Bannockburn is shown as a town in 1314, quotes a few words from the Chronicle of Melsa, 15th century, with no detail to indicate knowledge and Habbakuk Bisset, 1626, which contains nothing but a name: irrelevant, then. Far too late. At her report in Bannockburn H.S (See Stirling Observer, 26.2.2001) she said her school teacher told her it was on the Dryfield. The editor heard it. That is why he printed it. He knew it was correct. She mentions Bannockburn Revealed but did not read it. She could not have absorbed it in the six weeks she allowed for the project. She was commissioned to determine the site, which BR had done already, by G Thomson, Planning Official, who wanted to build in the Carse, where I showed the battle took place. She denigrates the Roy maps which she knew nothing about, saying they were not met to be accurate. She never saw Roy's map of Bute in 1750 which is indistinguishable from the latest OS map! She will still not have read BR. The Critique will be too painful.

[ii] Landscapes 2014 Vol 15 part 2 p130. Reconstructing Battles and Battlefields, Scientific Solutions to Problems at Bannockburn, Scotland, Tipping et al. The paper is not science.

[iii] Bannockburn: Battle and Legacy, Cowan, p235-238. ISBN 978-1-9977030-50-4, Shaun Tyas, 1 High St, Donington, Lincs PE11 4TA