Who were they?

Many of the 15,000 infantry in Edward’s army were archers. They were a potentially lethal force - an archer with a 2m longbow could shoot an arrow up to 250m. However, many of the archers on both sides were ill-equipped and untrained.

The archers in Edward’s army were mostly recruited from Wales, the north of England and the Midlands. The Scottish archery force would have been much smaller.

Archers on either side would attack each other in a deadly rain of arrows and were also used to clear the way for a cavalry charge by attacking spearmen from a safe distance. So feared were the archers that James Douglas was said to gouge out the right eye or cut off the right hand of any archer he captured.

At Bannockburn

Perhaps surprisingly, at Bannockburn the full power of the archers was never released. On 24 June archers from both sides shot at each other; the small Scottish group of archers pulled back but this first encounter had little impact on the battle.

Edward’s archers began firing fast and furiously from the flank of the English line, seriously threatening the Scottish schiltrons, but were scattered by the Keith’s small Scottish cavalry force.