Battlefield Tours of Scotland
A tour of Scotland with a base location in Dunkeld is within easy driving distance to many famous Scottish Battlefields; including Killiecrankie, Sherriffmuir, Stirling Bridge, Bannockburn, Falkirk and Culloden.
Nechtansmere, Forfarshire (20th May 685 AD)
The Saxon King Egfrid is defeated by the Pictish King Nechtan. Egfrid is slain.
Battle of Largs, Date, 1st October 1263, Largs, Scotland.
Combatants; King Alexander III of Scotland versus King Haakon of Norway.
Since the reign of King Kenneth MacAlpin (843 - 937), the Vikings had been attacking and raiding the outer isles of Scotland. By the 1260's, Alexander III was anxious to rid Scotland of the Vikings. After several spectacular raids against the Vikings, by 1263, they were left only with possession of Orkney and Shetland. Angered at having lost another part of the Scottish isles (the Western Isles) to the Scots in August of that year, King Haakon set out to win them back. On October 1st, they landed at Largs, and were subjected to a ferocious assault from the Scots. The Norwegians eventually managed to get some backing from a couple of ships that managed to get to their aid with fresh troops. But after nightfall the weary Norwegians fled to their ships. Haakon had to ask for a truce to bury his dead. He left with the tattered remains of his once magnificent fleet, sailing round the isles which were now lost to Norway forever. One night, when they reached Orkney, he ordered the chronicles of his ancestors, the pirate Kings, to be read to him. Around midnight, as they were being recited, he died.
Battle of Dunbar. Date, 1296, Dunbar, Scotland.
Combatants; Guardians of Scotland versus King Edward I of England (longshanks).
King John Balliol was placed on the throne in 1292. He was a weak King, but he was a King nonetheless, something Scotland hadn't had since 1286. Edward I of England, having already conquered Wales, set his eyes on Scotland. In 1296, he marched North with an army of 30,000 infantry and 5000 cavalry. He invaded Scotland. He first arrived at Berwick, Scotland's main trading town. He sacked the town, mercilessly killing practically the whole town's population. He then marched to Dunbar and defeated a Scots army sent to meet him. Scotland was now in Edward's hands. He marched to Scone and removed the famous 'Stone of Destiny' and removed it to Westminster Abbey, where it remained for 700 years - being returned only recently. He asserted his domination by touring Scotland, removing relics that were special to Scotland, and subduing uprisings. Edinburgh castle was garrisoned with English troops for the first time in it's history.
Battle of Stirling Bridge, 11th September 1297. William Wallace of Elderslie versus. Earl of Surrey (commander-in-chief of Scotland under Edward I). Royal Burgh of Stirling, Scotland.
With many of his Barons hostile, Edward was desperately trying to raise an army to use against France. This situation left him with no troops to send north against the Scots. He therefore decided to release several of the Scottish nobles he had been keeping prisoner since Dunbar. Among them were Alexander Comyn and the Earl of Buchan, who were released on the condition that they quell the disturbances. Battle of Stirling Bridge.
Battle of Falkirk. Date, 1298, Falkirk, Scotland
Combatants; Sir William Wallace (Guardian of Scotland) versus King Edward I of England.
After Wallace's victory at Stirling, he was knighted and given the title 'Guardian of Scotland'. Edward I, on the other hand, was in Flanders, hoping to secure new land for the English crown. On hearing of the defeat of his entire northern army, he headed home. He then marched north with 87,500 troops. Wallace could only muster about one third of that. When Edward arrived in Kirkliston, he considered retreating after he saw the Lothians had become a desert. However, two Scottish knights sent a message to him, betraying Wallace's whereabouts. The following day, Edward's army rode to Falkirk where they attacked the Scots. The Scottish knights also betrayed Wallace, turning and riding from the field at the vital moment. Like most of the Scottish nobles, they would rather have fought for the English where they believed chivalry was best served.
The Scots army suffered severe slaughter. The retreating body of Wallace's men was too small to hold Stirling and had to pass it by. There was little gain in Edward's victory, but he had defeated Wallace. On the banks of the River Forth, Wallace sadly renounced his guardianship. He was now an outlaw again.
Battle of Loudon Hill. Date, 1307, Loudon, Scotland.
Combatants; King Robert the Bruce versus King Edward I of England.
After Wallace's execution in 1305, there was little hope for Scotland. Edward was making the final plans to merge Scotland into England. Edward was an old man though, and would not last much longer. In 1306, something happened that tore the very heart out of Edwards plan's. On the 27th March, 1306, Robert the Bruce, Earl of Carrick, and claimant to the throne of Scotland, crowned himself at Scone. As you can imagine, Edward I was outraged and immediately headed north to topple King Robert. At Loudon hill, King Robert met his first defeat. He was now an outlaw, forced to seek shelter wherever he could. Hardly befitting for a King. Scotland would have been finished then and there if it wasn't for the greatest stroke of luck ever to happen to Scotland. On 7th July 1307, Edward marched north for the last time, his aim - to seek out Robert the Bruce. Thankfully, as he was just about to cross the border, he collapsed and died. Edward was replaced by his much weaker son (Edward II) who had no interest whatsoever of continuing the campaign in Scotland. The army returned home, and King Robert came out of hiding.
Battle of Bannockburn. Date, 23rd and 24th June 1314
Combatants; King Robert the Bruce of Scotland versus King Edward II of England. Bannockburn, outside Stirling, Scotland. This decisive battle was fought in on the 23rd and 24th of June, 1314, between the Scots, headed by King Robert the Bruce, and the English, headed by their King Edward II (Longshanks son). The English were soundly defeated and Edward barely escaped capture. The film Braveheart gave the impression that the Scots only decided to fight instead of agreeing to humiliating English terms, at the last moment. This is not the case. On the contrary, Bruce challenged the English to meet him by mid-Summersday 1314, or Stirling castle (the last castle in Scotland still to be garrisoned by English troops) would be taken. The English marched north, in an attempt to save the castle.
Battle of Harlaw. Date, 1411, Harlaw, Grampian Region, Scotland.
Combatants; Donald, Lord of the Isles versus Lowlanders.
Donald, Lord of the Isles, declared war on the lowlands because his claims to the Earldom of Ross were rejected by the Earl of Mar and the Scottish government. Like his ancestors, some of whom had sided with the English kings against their own, he hardly regarded the Stuarts as his monarch. With a force of 10,000 men of , comprised mainly of the MacLeod, MacDonald and MacLean clans, he attacked the lowlanders army at Harlaw. The fight was so severe (the Battle is now known as 'Red Harlaw'), and the victory so important, that certain privileges were granted to the heirs of the fallen lowlanders. If Lord Donald had succeeded in defeating this army, the history of Scotland would be a great deal different than the one we know nowadays.
Pinkie. (1547) Duke of Somerset destroys the Scots, just outside Edinburgh.
Battle of Killiecrankie. Date, 27th July 1689, Pass of Killiecrankie, Perthshire.
Combatants; Viscount Dundee (Bonnie Dundee) versus General MacKay (under command of King William and Queen Mary of England and Scotland).
This was the first of the Jacobite wars, fought in the vain attempt at trying to restore the deposed Stuart Kings. In this case, it was the cause of King James VIII of Scotland, III of England, who was being fought for. Viscount Dundee stationed himself at the pass of Killiecrankie and waited. On the 27th July General MacKay (acting in the interests of King William and Queen Mary) appeared on the scene. Dundee's men used the famous'highland charge' against Mackay's troops, and routed them. They were defeated before they could even fix their bayonets. Unfortunatly, Dundee himself was killed whilst ordering a charge, and the army fell into disarray.
Dunkeld. (21st August 1689) With their leader dead, the Jacobites defeated by the Coventers. Battle of Dunkeld.
Glencoe Massacre. The majestic grandeur of its mountain landscape, its notorious history and even the dramatic localized weather system combine to create in Glencoe one of the most atmospheric and scenically spectacular places in Scotland. Along with Bannockburn and Culloden, Glencoe ranks among the most famous historic sites in Scotland, notable because of the infamous but incompetent massacre, in 1692, of the MacDonalds of Glencoe, the smallest of the Clan Donald sects. Glencoe Massacre.
Battle of Sheriffmuir. Date, 1715, Sherriffmuir, near Stirling, Scotland.
Combatants; Jacobites versis Hanovarians.
On the 6 September 1715, the 6th Earl of Mar, John Erskine, declared himself for James Francis Edward Stewart, the Old Pretender, and left Braemar carrying the Stewart standard to head south to the Jacobites in England. By the end of the month he had taken over Inverness with twelve thousand men behind him. When November came he had brought the east of Scotland as far as Perth under Jacobite control. While this was happening, the 2nd Duke of Argyll, John Campbell, assembled four thousand pro-Hanovarians to halt Mar moving any further south than the Forth.
Two thousand of Mar's army had been sent with William MacKintosh of Borlum to Edinburgh so that when Argyll was confronted at Sheriffmuir on the Ochils slopes near Dunblane in Perthshire, the numbers were ten thousand to four thousand. Argyll assembled the right flank of his army uphill, with General Whetham administrating over the left flank. The middle and right flanks of the Jacobites were commanded by MacDonald of Clanranald, MacDonnell of Glengarry and MacLean of Duart, who charged their men into Whetham's in an attack so ferocious that 'a complete rout and prodigious slaughter' commenced immediately. Whetham fled to Stirling to tell of the total defeat of the King's men. While he was doing this however, Argyll had swept down into Mar's right flank and battered them back into two miles of retreat and into the Allen Water. The battle ended in this situation with both sides' left flanks defeated. Argyll withdrew to Dunblane, Mar pulled back to Perth, and both proclaimed themselves victorious.
Still with superior numbers, Mar's next move had to be to finish off Argyll, but he did not. When the French and Spanish heard of Mar's indecision, their faith in the Rising was lost and their support withdrawn. Argyll had won the battle in propaganda terms. The Earl of Mar, known also as 'Bobbing John', lost interest in the disintegrating Rising, fled to France, and betrayed many of his Jacobite collegues by revealing their identities.
Culloden. Date, 16th April 1746, Culloden, near Inverness, Scotland. The politics behind the Jacobite rebellions of the 18th century were as simple and as complex as the blood relationships which governed the lives of royal families all over Europe at that time. In 1688 an overwhelmingly Protestant English people grew heartily sick of their Catholic Stuart king and his pretentions to absolutism. James II, whose father had been beheaded on the orders of Oliver Cromwell and whose brother had only been restored to the throne in 1661, was deposed in favour of his sister Mary and her Dutch Protestant husband William of Orange. Unfortunately, they died childless and the throne passed to James' second sister Anne. This poor woman spent most of her life in childbirth and her tragedy was to bear seventeen children in all and see not one of them live past infancy. The next in line were the children of Sophia the Electress of Hanover and when Queen Anne died in 1714, George Elector of Hanover became George I of Great Britain. In Scotland he was known as the "wee German lairdie". All the time the exiled James and his son brooded in their palace of St. Germain in France. Culloden Battle.
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Please e-mail: Paula Ryan