Though William Wallace's heroics were significant, it was Robert the Bruce's defeat of the English on 24 June 1314 at Bannockburn that finally established a lasting Scottish nation. Exploiting the marshy ground, Bruce won a great tactical victory against a much larger and better-equipped force (the Scots were outnumbered by two or three to one), and sent Edward II 'homeward, tae think again' (in the words of the popular song 'Flower of Scotland').
The problem with 700-year-old battlefields is that there isn't much left to see today. There has been much debate over exactly where the main battle took place, but it was somewhere on what is now the southern edge of Stirling's urban sprawl – the Bannockburn Heritage Centre looks for all the world like a 1970s community centre set in suburban parkland. Reopened after a major refurbishment in time for the 700th anniversary of the battle, the centre uses animated films, 3D imagery and interactive technology in an attempt to bring the battle to life – great fun for kids, a little naff for history buffs. The highlight is a digital projection of the battlefield onto a 3D landscape that shows the progress of the battle and the movements of infantry and cavalry.
Outside, the 'battlefield' itself is no more than an expanse of neatly trimmed grass, crowned with a circular monument inscribed with a poem by Kathleen Jamie, and a Victorian statue of the victor astride his horse.
Bannockburn is 2 miles south of Stirling; you can reach it on First bus 24 or 54 from Stirling bus station (£1.80, 10 minutes, three per hour).