by Robert Aitken 7th March 2008


James III was born in1452, crowned at the age of eight at Kelso, he assumed power late in 1469 and emerged as a confidant, imperial and aggressive king, things soon went awry, his progressive faults were plans for war in Brittany, huge expenditure on cannon, refusal to hold parliament outside Edinburgh, a failure to hold justice circuits, the debasement of the coinage, his refusal to reward his followers, taxation and repeated attempts to seek peace with England. By June 8th 1488 a large coalition of disaffected nobles with the rebel son of the king at their head met James III at “the field of Stirling” later known as Sauchieburn.


The Old Well which marks the spot where James III was murdered

This is the only battle where the Scottish royal standard flew on both sides. James III was defeated and was either killed in battle or killed whilst fleeing. Reputedly he fled to the ford on the Bannock at Milton near to Beatons Mill. According to local tradition, the wife of the miller Beaton was drawing water from the well when the king’s horse frightened her, she dropped her bucket and in turn the horse was frightened and threw the king and he was carried into the building.

Help came from three travellers one of whom said he was a priest and being shown into the building he stabbed the king to death. Whether this story is true or not James III was dead and his son was king of Scotland.

The young James IV was hurriedly crowned at Scone and his father buried at Cambuskenneth Abbey the day after the coronation. James IV went on to become one of the most successful rulers of Scotland.

Beatons Mill was described in 1880 as a dwelling house with crow-stepped gables; it appears on the 1897 map of Bannockburn, on a photograph of 1904 and also on postcard dated 1917. In 1950 it was noted that two corbel stones projecting from the front of the building were inscribed 1667. One source says rebuilding took place in 1677 and that it burnt down in 1950 and another that it was damaged by fire in1952. It is not thought likely that it existed in 1488 nor that it was ever used as a mill.

If anyone has more information on this building, eyewitness to the fire, photographs, postcards or information on who stayed in the building we would be happy to hear from them.

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