Battle of Bannockburn Family History Project

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Genealogical Studies Postgraduate Programme


To mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn in 2014, we are running a Bannockburn Project, to throw light on the participants in the Battle from a genealogical point of view.


There are two strands to the Project:

  • The Combatants and their Families
    This features biographical information and coats of arms of 70 of the combatants and genealogies of their   families over four generations.
  • Genetic Genealogy Project
    Genetic genealogy is becoming more and more important as a tool for genealogical research and this strand of the Project aims to show the power of genetic genealogy by revealing living descendants of combatants in the Battle. Having identified several male line descendants of combatants using documentary sources, we invited them to take a DNA test, and then attempted to find another individual who closely matched each testee. If successful, this would show that the second individual was descended from the same combatant, despite having no supporting documentary evidence.

According to our research, the number of combatants in the Battle who are named in primary sources amount to 161 individuals (142 English, 19 Scottish), while the names of another 125 individuals who may have been present appear in secondary sources. The major primary sources used were several chronicles, particularly The continuation of the annals of Nicholas Trivet, the Calendar of documents relating to Scotland and a number of rolls of arms from the period. Full details of sources can be found in the binders of printed materials in the exhibition.

The display of the full exhibition has now ended (see below for further details). Part of the exhibition will be hosted at various other locations. Current arrangements are as follows –

8 December - 31 January - Stirling Castle

Participants featured:

Scottish Army
King Robert I
Douglas, Sir James
Graham, Sir John
Macdonald, Angus Og
Keith, Sir Robert
Randolph, Thomas, 1st Earl of Moray
Seton, Sir Alexander de
Stewart, Sir Walter

English Army

King Edward II
Berkeley, Sir Thomas, 1st Lord Berkeley (captured at Bannockburn)
Bohun, Sir Henry de (killed at Bannockburn)
Clare, Gilbert de, 8th Earl of Gloucester (killed at Bannockburn)
Comyn, John, Lord of Badenoch (killed at Bannockburn)
Stapleton, Miles, 1st Lord Stapleton (killed at Bannockburn)
Tiptoft, Sir Pagan de (killed at Bannockburn)


One display board is devoted to each combatant and features three panels – one providing a brief biography, another illustrating the relevant coat of arms and a third with a four generation genealogical chart. Each chart begins with the combatant’s grandparents and attempts to show all of their descendants down to the fourth generation (great-grandchildren). This gives some indication of the family background of each featured individual plus contemporary family members and those of the next generation. Interesting and significant family connections can be found and could well form the basis for further research on the family structure of the nobility and its significance. 

As well as the display boards relating to the featured individuals, there is also information on the progress of the Genetic Genealogy Project and the conclusions reached. Initially, four families were researched – Berkeley, Grey, Macdonald and Stewart – and living descendants of the Battle combatants from these families were identified. The results from the Macdonald and Stewart families are featured in the display. In the course of the research on this strand of the Project, some interesting features have become evident relating to family names and the persistence or extinction of male lines, which would also merit further study.

Website news
A new website devoted to the Project, including the displays relating to the 17 participants featured in the full exhibition and other information, will be launched in the near future.

For further information please contact Graham S Holton at g.s.holton@strath.ac.uk


The research was displayed in an exhibition hosted by the National Trust for Scotland in their new Bannockburn Visitor Centre, from Saturday 21 June to Saturday 2 August 2014.

The following participants were featured:

Scottish Army
King Robert I
Douglas, Sir James
Graham, Sir John
Macdonald, Angus Og
Keith, Sir Robert
Randolph, Thomas, 1st Earl of Moray
Seton, Sir Alexander de
Stewart, Sir Walter

English Army
King Edward II
Berkeley, Sir Thomas, 1st Lord Berkeley (captured at Bannockburn)
Bohun, Sir Henry de (killed at Bannockburn)
Clare, Gilbert de, 8th Earl of Gloucester (killed at Bannockburn)
Comyn, John, Lord of Badenoch (killed at Bannockburn)
Stapleton, Miles, 1st Lord Stapleton (killed at Bannockburn)
Tiptoft, Sir Pagan de (killed at Bannockburn)


 

Project supported by: