The DNA battle lines have been drawn...

Press release   •   Jun 19, 2014 00:00 BST

A genealogical studies team at the University of Strathclyde has managed to trace direct descendants of men who actually fought at the Battle of Bannockburn on 23-24 June 1314 using DNA analysis.

Graham Holton, who headed up the Battle of Bannockburn Family History Project, will explain the research at the Bannockburn Live event (28-29 June), where VisitScotland and Unique Events will stage an intensely realistic recreation of the battle.

The Project identified several male line descendants of people known to have fought at the Battle of Bannockburn, and invited them to take DNA tests to try to locate a close match to another individual in the world, showing that the second individual is also a descendant.

The Earl Castle Stewart, an Irish peer who is known to be directly descended from Walter Stewart – the High Steward of Scotland, who fought at Bannockburn – was invited to take a DNA test for the research. A DNA match was discovered on a database held by American company Family Tree DNA which led the researchers to former London stockbroker Paul Thompson.

Graham Holton said: “Paul was traced back more than 20 generations and he was very excited to learn that he was directly descended from someone who fought at Bannockburn. He was surprised, because obviously the family name was changed somewhere along the way! Genealogy appeals to people because they want to recover a sense of identity. And it’s particularly exciting if they can make links of this sort, when they are descended from a king or someone who fought in a battle.”

The project also managed to trace Lee McDonald, from Canada, back to Angus Og McDonald, another man who fought at Bannockburn.

Graham added: “If someone thinks they might be descended from someone who fought at Bannockburn, particularly Stewarts and McDonalds, we would certainly be able to give them advice and help them to discover whether they have a direct connection to one of the most famous battles in history.”

The Battle of Bannockburn saw the outnumbered Scottish forces of Robert the Bruce defeat the English army of King Edward on the outskirts of Stirling almost exactly 700 years ago.

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland said: “Scotland’s historic past is fascinating and something that visitors from far and wide come to this country to learn about and experience through our people, landscapes, attractions, stories and music. This research project is truly remarkable and has literally brought to life the events of 700 years ago, identifying real descendants of those who fought so bravely for their country in the Battle of Bannockburn.

“We have an exceptional line-up for Bannockburn Live including talented and well-known musicians, authors, artists, clans people, living history specialists, performers, foodies and of course, warriors. We are on track to deliver an incredible, memorable event and we urge people to get their tickets now to avoid disappointment.”

As well as exhibiting at Bannockburn Live, the Project will also be the focus of a special exhibition at the new Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre in Stirling from this Saturday (June 21) to 2 August. From Friday 27 – Sunday 29 June, all eyes will be on Stirling as it hosts a spectacular weekend of events including Pipefest (27 June), the Armed Forces Day National Event (28 June) and Bannockburn Live (28-29 June).

The weekend provides an un-missable showcase of 700 years of history, pride in our armed forces, and will create a significant tourism boost to the city and surrounding area in 2014, the year of Homecoming Scotland. Bannockburn Live, organised by VisitScotland and Unique Events, is expected to welcome up to 20,000 people over the weekend of 28-29 June with a feast of music, battle performances, food and drink and family entertainment planned from 10am – 7pm.

Tickets are available at (Adults (14yrs+) £20; Children (5-13yrs) £12.50; Family ticket £55.00; Children under 5 years go free).

For more information contact: Kate Turnbull, Corporate Press Manager: 0131 472 2324;

Notes to Editors:

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