Jul 27 2011 by Gregor White, Stirling Observer Wednesday
THE project to create a new Bannockburn visitor centre received major lottery backing.
The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded the scheme £163,000 in development funding and gave it a “first round pass” for a further grant of more than £3.6 million.
The pass gives the project up to two years to submit more detailed proposals to compete for a firm award.
The joint venture by the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland aims to transform Bannockburn Heritage Centre in time for the 700th anniversary of the battle in 2014.
State-of-the-art technology would give visitors a true sense of the battle, from the social history of the time to medieval war craft.
The landscape would also be enhanced to reestablish important historic views, such as to Stirling Castle.
Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “I am delighted that the HLF has given its initial support for the ambitious vision we have for the new centre to mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.
“We announced the £5 million of initial investment from the Scottish Government only last year and the project has come on leaps and bounds since then.
“I am thrilled that this funding will allow us to go even further in using cutting-edge technology to immerse visitors in the experience of the battle while preserving the wider site as a place of commemoration and reflection.”
Colin McLean, head of the HLF in Scotland, added: “To this day the Battle of Bannockburn inspires artists, writers and political thinkers worldwide and is intrinsically linked to Scotland’s national identity.
“We are delighted to give our initial support to a project which will take the visitor experience to a new level, commensurate with the historical significance of this heritage site.
“Through this project, Bannockburn will be reestablished as a significant tourist destination and valuable education resource.”
NTS chief executive Kate Mavor said: “This support will help make a visit to the battlefield a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable experience for families and amateur historians alike.
“It will help us bring to life the historical significance of Bannockburn and its relevance to us all today.”
An artist’s impression of how the new visitor centre will look was unveiled last month, with lead architect Neil Gillespie saying the aim was to “give some gravitas back to the site.”
He said: “It’s about enhancing the experience visitors have when they come to Bannockburn.
“It’s important a historic story like this is told in a way suitable for today’s audience.”
MSP Murdo Fraser said: “I first raised this issue with the then culture minister in September 2009 and was delighted when our pressure on the Scottish Government led to an announcement in October 2010 that a new visitor centre will be built at the site.
“Now we have support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which is a great boost for Stirling and the surrounding area as a new centre will bring in thousands more visitors.
“The Battle of Bannockburn was a decisive moment in the first War of Independence and it is only right that we protect the site as a memorial to the men that fought and died here. With the 700th anniversary of this pivotal event fast approaching, it is important that we have a heritage centre that is fit to reflect the importance of Bannockburn.”