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Clans charge home to mark anniversary of Bannockburn

MORE than 2000 clan members from around the world have finally "come home" to commemorate 700th anniversary of the historic Battle of Bannockburn.

BATTLE STATIONS: Thousands of spectators enjoyed the re-enactments. Pictures: Gordon Terris
BATTLE STATIONS: Thousands of spectators enjoyed the re-enactments. Pictures: Gordon Terris

The descendants of those who fought in the battle of 1314 when the Scots, outnumbered three to one, defeated the English at moments were solemn in recounting the bloody clash but hailed the weekend's events at the historic site as a great family gathering.

Merlin Hay, 66, the 24th Earl of Errol and chief of the Hay clan, welcomed Tom Haye, 60 from Brussels and Hank Hay, 73, from New York.

The earl carries the office of Lord High Constable of Scotland which was bestowed on his ancestor by Robert the Bruce.

His was among the 40 clans to have fought at Bannockburn who were represented at the event that attracted 20,000 over two days.

He said: "We are one of the few clans with its own pipe band, and the leader is Dutch and the rest are Belgian. Tom paid for the drum in honour of his mother who is 102.

"The sense of kinship is very important and to walk away from it would be wrong. This is a great family event and the links we have very important."

Sir Malcolm MacGregor of MacGregor, convener of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, said the clans first helped unify Scotland.

He said: "Scotland became very much a stronger nation because of the clans and it is the overseas people who help prop up the clan culture."

Clansman and visitor found an affinity, said Mike Boyd, 69, chairman of the House of Boyd Society from Brisbane, Australia, who was joined by John Boyd, 35, from Missouri, US. He said: "I've been meeting new Boyds all day."

Also there was Arthur Graham Murdoch from Renton, West Dunbartonshire, whose ancestor was sergeant at arms for the Bruce.

The sell-out event was hailed a victory by organisers VisitScotland and Unique Events, as rain stayed away on the second day and queueing problems were fixed

Bannockburn Live, a key event in the Homecoming Scotland 2014 calendar and which featured re-enactments of the battle by the 200-strong "warrior" group the Clanranald, was turning a profit by lunchtime yesterday after early concerns over ticket sales.

It stands in stark contrast to The Gathering, the centrepiece of Homecoming 2009, which went bankrupt leaving many exhibitors out of pocket.

The clans will enjoy an exclusive free day at the site today after an earlier skirmish with organisers when the event was cut from three days to two.

Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland/EventScotland said: "Bannockburn Live has been an incredible success.

"The music, the food, the performers, the epic battle and of course the visitors who came in there droves to soak up the sight and sounds resulted in an event that will be remembered for years to come."

Pete Irvine, of Unique Events, said: "We set out to have a feast of food, music and history and to create a unique festival that celebrated culture and heritage in a contemporary way.

"Not only do we feel we've done that, from the reactions of the visitors around us, we know people appreciate and understand what we set out to do."

Singer Dougie MacLean has said he was thrilled to watch an audience singing along to his ode to Scotland - Caledonia.

The Dunblane-born singer closed his set with the song.

He said: "If we had lost the battle there probably would have been no Scotland, so Bannockburn is very special."

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