Local diggers at Scottish abbey discover coins looted from soldiers at Battle of Bannockburn

By Ben Miller | 21 March 2014 | Updated: 20 March 2014

Coins found at Cambuskenneth Abbey could be the spoils of war from the Battle of Bannockburn say archaeologists


A photo of a man in an archaeological trench
© GUARD Archaeology
Ancient coins from the rules of Henry III and Edward I and II, minted in London between the 13th and 14th centuries, could have been the spoils of battle swiped from the pockets of the defeated English army at Bannockburn, say archaeologists investigating 17 acres of land around Cambuskenneth Abbey. 

Working at one of the few places singled out in contemporary accounts of the Battle of Bannockburn, metal detectorists, geophysicists, historians and poets have been exploring the Abbey where Robert the Bruce kept his army’s baggage before the battle. Founded by David I in 1140, the site was originally known as the Abbey of St Mary of Stirling.

One of the 36 coins discovered has been tentatively named as a silver Henry III coin, from between 1251 and 1272. A coin from the time of one of the Edwards, minted in London during the late 13th or early 14th century, could also have been in circulation when the battle took place in June 1314.

The finds have been revealed as the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre opens its doors to the public ahead of the 700th anniversary of the battle which saw the forces of King Robert the Bruce defeated the English Army of Edward II.

Other highlights revealed by the project, which yielded more than 1,000 objects, include 44 musket balls, distorted and jarred by their still-visible impact against the northern and western walls of the Abbey Tower in a similar pattern to the scars visible on Stirling Castle or Linlithgow Palace.

Experts date the ammunition to around 1650, speculating that they may have been used in skirmishes involving Oliver Cromwell, the 1651 assault on Stirling or simply for target practice.

The foundations of the pre-17th century Forth, used by the Abbey to control access from the river, were found alongside carved stone details, floor tile fragments and pottery from the beginnings of the Abbey.

Members of the public were led by archaeologists during the excavations, which aimed to find remnants from the Scottish Wars of Independence.

The Abbey – named the “creek” or “field of Kenneth”, and seen as a key stronghold of Scottish identity – was the scene for several important parliaments during the rule of Robert I, including his initial sanctum, in November 1314, when the king disinherited all land-holding nobles who were not in attendance.

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How amazing we are still finding vital pieces of history buried everywherend how important it is to preserve it for future generations....
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