IT was the last time they set up camp before a victory, but since 1746 the exact location of the Jacobite Army camp before the Battle of Falkirk Muir has been lost.

Now the first survey of a potential site for the lost camp is planned for the first weekend in August, and archaeologists are looking for volunteers to help find the site.

In the summer of 1745, Prince Charles Edward Stuart arrived in Scotland to raise an army and march towards England to reclaim the throne. On his way south, Charles spent the night of September 14 at Bannockburn House near Stirling. It was owned by Sir Hugh Paterson, who had been sent into exile after supporting the Bonnie Prince’s father in the 1715 rising.

Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Highland army left Bannockburn the following day and on September 16 took Edinburgh before their brilliant swift victory at Prestonpans.

Perhaps it was the association between Bannockburn House and the positive early part of the Rising that led Charles to return there in early January 1746 following the retreat of the Jacobite army from England.

Located so close to Stirling, this mansion made for ideal headquarters for the prince and his staff to prepare for the siege of Stirling.

Even though the city surrendered on January 8, 1746, the attempts of the Jacobite army to take Stirling Castle were unsuccessful. Meanwhile, the Hanoverian army, tasked with bringing the Jacobite army to battle, marched from Edinburgh to Falkirk, planning to advance on Stirling.

The Jacobite army set out to meet the government forces, led by General Henry Hawley who had set up camp at Falkirk. The ensuing battle on January 17 was a victory for the Jacobites, who first of all repulsed Hawley’s mounted troops and then smashed through the Hanoverian lines with ferocity.

However, the day was ruined for the Jacobites by a storm and torrential rain so that they did not realise the extent of their victory – more than 300 of their opponents dead and the same captured, againt 70 Jacobites lost.

The end result was clumsy and unsatisfying and marked the beginning of the downturn in their fortunes, which culminated in their defeat at the battle of Culloden on April 16, 1746.

GUARD Archaeology Ltd, which will be involved in the new search, says: “The Hanoverian victory resulted in the banning of tartan and the suppression of Gaelic culture across Scotland.”

It is known that during the Jacobite siege of Stirling, Charles became ill and was nursed by Clementine Walkinshaw, the niece of Paterson, at Bannockburn House.

She became the mistress of the Prince and followed him into exile in France in 1752, where they had a daughter Charlotte in 1753, the Prince’s only recognised child. The house itself became forfeit following the defeat of the Jacobite cause.

GUARD stated: “It is thought that some of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s troops camped in the grounds of Bannockburn House.

“For the first time an organised archaeological survey is planned, by the community trust that bought the 17th-century house and its grounds in late 2017.

Willie McEwan, vice-chair of Bannockburn House Trust, said: “We hope to establish the location of the camp and to find examples of both daily camp life such as cooking utensils and of the equipment men and horses would have used in battle.”

Archaeologists from GUARD will guide metal detectorists and diggers in carrying out the archaeological investigations at the site adjacent to Bannockburn House.

John Atkinson of GUARD said: ‘This is a unique and exciting opportunity to try and resolve the mystery of where the Jacobite army camped in January 1746 before marching to the battle of Falkirk Muir.”