IT is revered as the place where Scotland won its freedom from the 'auld enemy', with a victory in battle that has resonated down through the ages.

But now people wanting to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn this weekend have been banned from carrying replicas of the very weapons used in the historic clash as they make their way to the battlefield.

For decades a colourful rally has been held on the site of the battle, near Stirling, with a procession through the town beforehand. In recent years, many of those taking part wore traditional Jacobite or medieval costumes complete with swords, axes, daggers and shields.

However, following reports of an "incident" at last year's march, where a car on the route was allegedly hit with a shield and a Union Flag was burned, Stirling Council ordered those taking part to lay down their arms, saying no weapons would be allowed to be carried during the march, even if they were safely sheathed in a scabbard.

Council chiefs say it is a safety issue and the public has a right to go about their lives with "minimal inconvenience".

However, the decision has been criticised, with some claiming their historic rights were being trampled on.

Others accused the council of double standards, pointing out that Scots law allows Shetlanders to dress up as Vikings each year and march through the town armed with battleaxes during the Up Helly Aa festival, while Scots are allowed to carry the sgian dubh knife.

Tom Chalmers, who set up a Facebook page Allow traditional Weapons while Kilted at Bannockburn, said: "These weapons are part of our traditional dress and people were not going to be waving them about. It's a peaceful march with banners.

"It's similar to what happens in Shetland, so why is it allowed in one part of Scotland and not another?

"This is totally different to someone arming themselves with a weapon and causing trouble. Dozens of people have done this for years and there has never been a problem before."

Once a mainstay of nationalist activity, the annual rally at Bannockburn began in 1932 after Scottish patriot Wendy Wood entered Stirling castle and replaced the Union Flag with a Lion Rampant flag.

The gathering has been held in various forms since then, and was once a high point on the SNP's calendar.

However, the party's influence and involvement in the parade and memorial ceremony has declined in recent decades as they have taken centre stage at Holyrood. In recent years, events have revolved around the procession, a wreath-laying ceremony to remember fallen Scots, speeches, lectures on the area's history and traditional music.

Last night a compromise emerged, when the National Trust Scotland, who manage the battlefield, said they would allow weapons to be carried during the ceremony.

A spokeswoman said: "People bringing swords and other weapons will be allowed to keep them in their cars and take them out when they arrive at the battlefield.

"After the ceremony, they will have to put them away again if they want to go back into Stirling."

A spokeswoman for Stirling Council said: "Stirling Council respects the rights of organisations and individuals to celebrate their history and cultural traditions, but it also needs to balance this with the rights of the general public to go about their daily lives safely and with minimal inconvenience.

"As with all other public processions held in the Stirling Council area they must comply with the Council's standard conditions, one of which is that weapons are not carried on public marches."