Bannockburn medal find prompts search for owner’s family

The medal was found during an archaeological dig at Bannockburn battlefield near Stirling. Picture: Michael Gillen
The medal was found during an archaeological dig at Bannockburn battlefield near Stirling. Picture: Michael Gillen

A First World War service medal discovered on 
Bannockburn battlefield has prompted a search for surviving relatives of its owner.

The award was found by a metal dectorist from Bonnybridge taking part in a public survey of the historic area where Robert the Bruce led a Scots army to victory over the forces of King Edward II of England in 1314.

The First World War medal was recovered from Bannockburn battlefield last month

The First World War medal was recovered from Bannockburn battlefield last month

James Bayne (66) had been hoping to find further evidence of the medieval battle but instead chanced upon a military memento from a more recent conflict.

After initial examination, experts believe the medal was originally awarded to John Davidson - a driver with the Royal Field Artillery.

The National Trust for Scotland, which maintains the Bannockburn site, is cleaning the weather-damaged item and researching the story of its owner.

It is hoped that relatives of Davidson can be traced and the medal returned.

What made it special was the fact that all World War One medals had the recipient’s name stamped on the edge as well as rank and number

James Bayne

Bayne, a retired maintenance engineer, discovered the medal on one of the world’s most historic battlefields by chance.

“I taking part in a dig at the Borestone on July 12 organised by Historic Scotland when I found a World War One Victory medal,” he said.

“What made it special was the fact that all World War One medals had the recipient’s name stamped on the edge as well as rank and number.

“I have no idea how it came to be lost on a famous battlefield - but we do know that the surrounding area was used for training soldiers during the Great War.

“There was a recent example of a war medal returned to its owner’s family after 100 years.

“After speaking with the Bannockburn Heritage Centre manager, Scott McMaster, we both agreed it would be best if the medal I found could similarly be returned.”

Bayne became a keen amateur archeologist after being gifed a metal detector five years ago.

He has taken part in several digs at Bannockburn. The Falkirk Herald previously reported in 2013 on several medieval fragments he unearthed at the battlefield.

His earlier discoveries include a bronze pendant and the remains of a brutal medieval dagger known as a ‘bodkin’.

Bannockburn has been the focus of several large-scale archaeological digs in the past two years to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the battle.

More than 125 members of the public joined a team of National Trust for Scotland experts and volunteers at the event on July 12, which took place on a previously unexplored part of the battlefield

The dig unearthed several pottery fragments which suggest the possible location of Robert the Bruce’s encampment.

“We are delighted at the medieval pottery finds and the discovery of the medal highlights how people have been visiting this site for hundreds of years,” said McMaster.

Despite being a landmark event in both Scottish and English history, archeologists have not been able to definitely say where the battle took place.

It is now commonly presumed the majority of the fighting took place on either the Carse of Balquhiderock, about a mile-and-a-half north-east of the traditional site, or the area of peaty ground known as the Dryfield outside the village of Balquhiderock.

Are you related to the original owner of the medal found at Bannockburn? If you can shed any light on the life of John Davidson, call The Falkirk Herald newsdesk on 01324 690237.