Scottish Battle of Bannockburn to be reenacted locally

A major victory for freedom took place in Bannockburn 700 years ago.

That battle was in Bannockburn, Scotland, but it will be reenacted in Bannockburn, Ill., at noon Sunday, Sept. 7, as the village commemorates the Scottish victory over England.

As part of the community’s annual picnic at Bannockburn’s Open Space, 25 to 30 reenactors dressed in armor will fight with swords and shields. The mock battle commemorates Robert the Bruce and his Scottish army’s defeat of the English forces, securing Scotland’s independence, according to Acting Village President Frank Rothing.

In 1314, the battle lasted two days, but this version will go on for three hours while people watch and visit booths depicting medieval life. The tents will teach about cooking, livestock, music and storytelling of the era.

The music will be authentic as the Chicago Highlanders bagpipe and drum band performs from 2 to 4 p.m.. The day will end on an ecological note with a bonfire burning buckthorn, an invasive species that feeds on oak and maple.

The fact that Bannockburn, Ill., shares a name with the Scottish village is no mistake, according to Rothing. The town was originally laid out by architect William Aitken, who was of Scottish descent. A number of homes designed by Aitken and built in the 1920s still remain today.

“That’s why we have streets named Aberdeen and Sterling,” Rothing said.

When Rothing got the idea to reenact the Battle of Bannockburn, he decided to get an up-close look. He went to Scotland a few months ago, toured the site in Bannockburn and met with the town’s provost, who the equivalent of a mayor or village president.

Rothing also did his research locally, starting with Steven Fratt, the chairman of the history department at Trinity International University in Bannockburn.

“He is quite knowledgeable in the medieval period,” Rothing said. Fratt put him in touch with Nita Lewis at the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) to help arrange the battle reenactment.

“They do a lot of civil war and medieval reenactments,” Rothing said of the SCA. “They are providing the players.”

There will be no public parking for the event, according to Bannockburn Village Manger Maria Lasday.

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