Controversy went hand in hand with this event from its inception, to the extent that the Government ordered a hearing into what went wrong. There has been much debate about several issues including the scope of the event, the planning of Armed Forces Day next to it, in both time (the Saturday) and place (Stirling). Many feared that it would become a political football, to be kicked around ahead of the Referendum.
The irony, as many agreed, was that it was a very enjoyable event. The sad thing was that with the expectations so low, the vendors only sent skeleton staff, and so the queues were long and the frustration levels high.
Here is a personal view from The Hon. Kate Nicolson.
I was initially sceptical of the whole concept of the Bannockburn three day event and relieved when it was reduced to two days. I was also amused by the UK government’s decision to award Armed Forces Day 2014 to Stirling, quite clearly not a naval base.
I can only say the organisation proved me quite wrong!
The fact that the site is actually quite small meant that one had the opportunity to see everything. Having agreed to attend the Bannockburn Service of Magnanimity at Dunfermline Abbey on the Friday afternoon it was left to my husband Mark and son Alexander Fraser (who lives & works in Germany) to ‘set up’ our Clan Fraser tent. In spite of it being only five years since the 2009 Clan Gathering in Edinburgh (and in my view much too soon to try to host another Clan Gathering), the powers that be decided that the 2014 Bannockburn commemorative event should include a Clan Gathering – which was promptly cancelled.
This meant that there was always the possibility of Frasers (or indeed anyone else!) from across the globe planning on coming to Scotland and that, although cancelled, coming anyway – therefore we should be polite enough to be there to welcome them. When the family met up in the evening – with very kind friends who had offered to put us up for three nights – the men said that the task had proved simple and efficient (the same for clearing up on the Monday morning!) This was proven the next morning when we arrived having had to dump the car in the nearest village (due to a mass of people on foot queuing for the Box Office) at the behest of a charming police officer. The security staff and the event staff were equally charming and obliging.
The atmosphere of the event on both days was overall calm and happy in spite of a dampish first day. The re-enactment was hugely entertaining and highly popular. The event sold out which must have surprised the organisers, given that they had woefully underestimated the amount of food & drink on sale, resulting in horrendous hour-long queues for both (although at this event there were no queues for the loos!)!
The best moment for us was the sight of the First Minister being ‘buzzed’ by a lone Red Arrow en route home after a spectacular display over Armed Forces Day! The most obvious error was the site’s giant flagpole flying the Saltire rather than the more appropriate Royal Standard of the Bruce!
I think the organisers can be assured that the Bannockburn event was a success and I think most clans present had a steady flow of visitors and our exposure was probably worth the effort.
One thing worth noting – indeed it was noted during the meeting with COSCA and others that followed the AGM – was that there were an encouraging number of Scots – who actually live in Scotland – at the event. Many were surprised to see their clan tent. They thought such things as clans were long dead, and were generally enthused by the fact that they are alive and well. Perhaps we should spend more time promoting clan activities in our own country?