In March 1298, following the English defeat at Stirling Bridge, William
Wallace led a punitive raid into Northumberland. In response, later in
1298, Edward I assembled an army of 15,000, including veterans from his
campaigns in France as well as Welsh and Irish troops. In the campaign
that followed Wallace was outnumbered and forced to employ hit and run
tactics, avoiding open battle, and implementing a policy of clearing or
destroying resources in the path of the English army in order to weaken
its ability to fight. In response Edward, who had mustered his army at
Roxburgh, organised seaborne supplies to support his forces as they
marched north to Edinburgh.
Wallace planned a night time attack on Edward’s army near Kirkliston,
just to the north west of Edinburgh, but was betrayed by two Scottish
nobles, who resented Wallace’s rise to power. He now had little
alternative but to face Edward in open battle before he reached Stirling,
with its strategically important castle. He chose Falkirk as the location.
Though outnumbered, Wallace was forced to engage the English, choosing
terrain in which he could use an area of marshy ground to protect his
Falkirk is a battle of international significance involving major
military commanders of the period. It saw the Scottish army destroyed,
leaving Edward I in control of south east Scotland, which he held with a
few garrisons. Thereafter during the reign of Edward I another Scottish
army could not be raised capable of challenging the English in the field.