Falkirk commemorates a deadly day of medieval carnage

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It all happened back in the late 13th century, but today’s town centre commemoration of the 1298 Battle of Falkirk may be the biggest in recent years.

Soaring interest in Scottish history has encouraged groups including the Falkirk-based Society of John de Graeme to build on the success of recent events to create a many-sided programme featuring everything from a medieval market to knightly combat.

The centrepiece of today’s activities is the procession through the town to the Faw Kirk (Trinity Church), followed by the wreath-laying ceremony (1.45pm) which acknowledges the sacrifice of the thousands who were killed or wounded during a day of horrific slaughter.

The First Battle of Falkirk marked a watershed in the Scottish Wars of Independence, consigning erstwhile resistance leader Sir William Wallace to the margins and clearing the way for Edward Longshanks to complete his conquest and annexation of Scotland.

Instead Robert Bruce took up the fight in a long-odds bid for kingship, and after many years of desperate struggle achieved decisive victory over Longshanks’ successor, Edward II, and with it Scottish independence.

Prominent in the lists of Scottish heroes who died in the wars is Sir John de Graeme, one of Wallace’s right hand men, who was killed in the 1298 battle and later interred in the churchyard.

The church cafe opens from noon today, and events including folk singing and re-enactment continue until 4pm.