Protesters march to continue the fight in new battle of Bannockburn

HUNDREDS of people have taken part in a march to save a famous hill that is believed to have played a critical part in the Scottish victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn.

Campaigners fear Gillies' Hill, in the village of Cambusbarron, could disappear from the landscape under plans to quarry the site for whinstone.

The Save Gillies' Hill campaign group led more than 700 people – including some who had travelled from as far away as California to take part – from the hill down to the battlefield at Bannockburn.

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The march, marking the nearest Sunday to the 696th anniversary of the combat, on 23-24 June, 1314, recreated a significant point in the Battle of Bannockburn, when servants, cart drivers and camp followers, seeing the tide turn in Bruce's favour, emerged from behind the hill and sparked panic in the English ranks, causing them to flee at the sight of "reinforcements".

The reinforcements, some armed with nothing more than pots and pans, became known as Bruce's Sma' Folk.

In addition to its historical significance, Gillies' Hill is now a favourite location for countryside walks and a habitat for wildlife, including red squirrels, woodpeckers and rare plants.

The people taking part in the march were led by pipers, men in armour and women dressed as Sma' Folk – complete with pots and pans.

Organiser Peter Paterson, chair of Cambusbarron Community Council, said: "Save Gilles' Hill was formed in 2007 after it became clear that quarriers were about to reactivate operations.

"The Gillies' Hill is a local gem with stunning views, rare wild-life and plants, used daily by many people.What's more, it is nationally important for its role in the Battle of Bannockburn. We are not prepared to stand by and let it be destroyed."

Botanist Peggy Edwards, 58, from Santa Cruz, California, said she was marching to save the hill because of its historical role in the battle and its rich biodiversity, which she is recording.

Scottish historian Dr Fiona Watson said Gillies' Hill had played a "huge part in the story of the historic battle in 1314".