Sieges of Stirling Castle


Sieges of Stirling Castle

There have been at least eight sieges of Stirling Castle, a strategically important fortification in Stirling, Scotland. Stirling is located at the crossing of the River Forth, making it a key location for access to the north of Scotland. The castle changed hands several times between English and Scottish control during the Wars of Scottish Independence (1296-1357).

In 1299, the castle was in English hands, when the constable, John Sampson, was besieged by the Scots. In 1304, Edward I of England besieged the Scots, deploying siege engines to force the garrison to surrender. In 1337, a siege by Sir Andrew Murray failed to retake the castle. Between 1571 and 1585, the castle was besieged three times by Scots factions during the reign of James VI. In 1651, Oliver Cromwell captured the castle during his invasion of Scotland. The final siege took place in 1746, when Charles Edward Stuart besieged the castle during the final Jacobite Rising.

iege of 1304

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Siege of Stirling Castle
partof=the First War of Scottish Independence


caption=
date=April 1304 – 20 July, 1304
place=Stirling Castle, Scotland
result=English victory
combatant1=

combatant2=

commander1=William Oliphant
commander2=Edward I of England
strength1=30
strength2=12 siege engines, unknown number of troops
casualties1=
casualties2=

After the defeat of William Wallace's Scots army at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298, it took Edward I six years to gain full control of Scotland. The last stronghold of resistance to English rule was Stirling Castle. Armed with twelve siege engines, the English laid siege to the castle in April 1304. For four months the castle was bombarded by lead balls (stripped from nearby church roofs), Greek fire, stone balls, and even some sort of gunpowder mixture. Impatient with lack of progress, Edward ordered his chief engineer, Master James of St. George, to begin work on a new, more massive engine called Warwolf (possibly a trebuchet). The castle's garrison of 30, led by William Oliphant, eventually surrendered on July 20 after Edward had previously refused to accept surrender until the Warwolf had been tested.

Historians disagree on what eventually led the garrison to surrender. One explanation says that Edward succeeded in filling the moat with earth and stone and prepared scaling ladders and ropes, and the garrison saw their fate and offered their surrender. Another says that Edward managed to breach a wall with a ram, which convinced the garrison to surrender. A different possibility is starvation. Despite previous threats, Edward was comparatively lenient with the rebels. He only executed the man who had previously betrayed the castle to the Scots. William Oliphant was imprisoned in the Tower of London.


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