Review: The Bannockburn Experience

PREPARE FOR BATTLE!!

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A couple of months ago we were lucky enough to visit Bannockburn for a wee day oot. Although I loved the thought of visiting the newly refurbished Bannockburn experience, I was a little skeptical about the new fangled technology  added to jazz up the overall experience of visiting, what really is a bloody and grizzly battle site.

The ‘new fangled technology’ I am referring to is the 3D battle experience, which allows  two teams to go head-to-head, in a battle of wits and strategy via an interactive hologram re-imagining of the Battle of Bannockburn,1314.  As I say, I was very skeptical that all this technology would remove the historic integrity of what is an extremely  important part of not only Scottish history, but also British history. Keep in mind, the outcome of  Bannockburn could have changed the future of the UK forever! Not something to ever forget.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to be introduced to an animated re-telling of the circumstances leading up to the battle including the main characters (John Comyn, Robert the Bruce, Elizabeth de Burgh & King Edward II)  and detailed overview of the social and political causes of the civil unrest. All of this information was beautifully presented in a film which lasted less than 10mins. It was fun, engaging and accessible to a wide range of audiences.

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Our friend, Ross, all dolled up with nowhere to go.

Once the beautiful wee video finished, the gamers were escorted into dark room which is enclosed by floor to ceiling video screens.  In the middle of the room sits a selection of weapons and armour from both sides.  Suddenly, the video screens sprang to life and the gamers were trapped in the middle of the two warring camps. Not only a video, but 3D holograms throw spears, daggers and arrows via their long-bows over the heads of the gamers. I would challenge anyone not to duck! Overall is it a very educational experience, as it not only allows the visitors to become familiar with the weapons, armour and the Stirling terrain but also creates an intense feeling of claustrophobia and foreboding.  There is truly nowhere to escape!

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The Bannockburn Experience game board.

Once the gamers have become accustomed to the weapons used, armour and terrain, they are escorted into the game room which is like something out of the Crystal Maze (if you are old enough to remember the Crystal Maze. If not, it was a game show hosted by Richard O’Brien – Probably best just to google it) . A large irregular table sits in the middle of the room, radiating a pale blue light from around its rim. A hooded figure approaches the table. The games master is now in control – The battle is about to begin! Allegiances are chosen; friends against friends, brother against sister, work colleague against work colleague.

The strategy of the battle is entirely up to the players, allowing the outcome to be different each time the game is played. The conditions of terrain, booby traps and weather on the day in 1314 are replicated in minute detail. The only element which is different is the strategy and wit used by each army to determine who the victor of the Bannockburn experience truly is!

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Interpretation panels demonstrating the different fabrics and materials used in soldiers dress.

Overall the Bannockburn Experience is very well executed reinterpretation which is both interactive and filled to the brim with informative details. Small nuggets of academic charm such as presenting the different fabrics used in the soldiers dress and armour, the engaging cartoons and the  wonderful commentary by leading academics Dr. Tony Pollard and Dr. Fiona Watson all make for a lively and educational day oot.

For tickets or more information go to www.battleofbannockburn.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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