Sunday, February 27, 2011

Battle of Ancrum Moor

The Battle of Ancrum Moor, which occurred on February 27, 1545, is well covered in Notes on the Eve of St. John, in Walter Scott's "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border". The note, some of which is contained below, discusses the actions of Lords Ralph Evers (or Eure) and Brian Latoun (or Layton), and how these actions pushed the people in the area to seek the security of King Henry VIII.  Scottish Earls Arran and Angus - James Hamilton and Archibald Douglas - turned this day into a Scottish victory, with Evers and Latoun both being slain.

'In 1545, Lord Evers and Latoun again entered Scotland, with an army consisting of 3000 mercenaries, 1500 English Borderers, and 700 assured Scottishmen, chiefly Armstrongs, Turnbulls, and other broken clans. In this second incursion, the English generals even exceeded their former cruelty. Evers burned the tower of Broomhouse, with its lady (a noble and aged woman, says Lesley), and her whole family. The English penetrated as far as Melrose, which they had destroyed last year, and which they now again pillaged. As they returned towards Jedburgh, they were followed by Angus, at the head of 1000 horse, who was shortly after joined by the famous Norman Lesley, with a body of Fife-men. The English, being probably unwilling to cross the Teviot, while the Scots hung upon their rear, halted upon Ancrum Moor, above the village of that name; and the Scottish general was deliberating whether to advance or retire, when Sir Walter Scott (1), of Buccleuch, came up at full speed, with a small, but chosen body of his retainers, the rest of whom were near at hand. By the advice of this experienced warrior (to whose conduct Pitscottie and Buchanan ascribe the success of the engagement), Angus withdrew from the height which he occupied, and drew up his forces behind it, upon a piece of low flat ground, called Panier-heugh, or Paniel-heugh. The spare horses being sent to an eminence in their rear, appeared to the English to be the main body of the Scots, in the act of flight. Under this persuasion, Evers and Latoun hurried precipitately forwards, and, having ascended the hill, which their foes had abandoned, were no less dismayed, than astonished, to find the phalanx of Scottish spearmen drawn up, in firm array, upon the flat ground below. The Scots in their turn became the assailants. A heron, roused from the marshes by the tumult, soared away betwixt the encountering armies: 'Oh!' exclaimed Angus, 'that I had here my white goss-hawk, that we might all yoke at once !'—Godscroft. The English, breathless and fatigued, having the setting sun and wind full in their faces, were unable to withstand the resolute and desperate charge of the Scottish lances. No sooner had they begun to waver, than their own allies, the assured Borderers, who had been waiting the event, threw aside their red crosses, and, joining their countrymen, made a most merciless slaughter among the English fugitives, the pursuers calling upon each other to 'remember Broomhouse !'—Lesley, p. 478.

In the battle fell Lord Evers, and his son, together with Sir Brian Latoun, and 800 Englishmen, many of whom were persons of rank. A thousand prisoners were taken. Among these was a patriotic alderman of London, Read by name, who, having contumaciously refused to pay his portion of a benevolence demanded from the city by Henry viii., was sent by royal authority to serve against the Scots. These, at settling his ransom, he found still more exorbitant in their exactions than the monarch.—Redpath's Border History, p. 563.

Evers was much regretted by King Henry, who swore to avenge his death upon Angus, against whom he conceived himself to have particular grounds of resentment, on account of favours received by the Earl at his hands. The answer of Angus was worthy of a Douglas: 'Is our brother-in-law offended,'' said he, 'that I, as a good Scotsman, have avenged my ravaged country, and the defaced tombs of my ancestors, upon Ralph Evers? They were better men than he, and I was bound to do no less—and will he take my life for that? Little knows King Henry the skirts of Kirnetable (2):' I can keep myself there against all his English host.'—Godscroft.

Such was the noted battle of Ancrum Moor. The spot, on which it was fought, is called Lilyard's Edge, from an Amazonian Scottish woman of that name, who is reported, by tradition, to have distinguished herself in the same manner as Squire Witherington (3). The old people point out her monument, now broken and defaced. The inscription is said to have been legible within this century, and to have run thus:—

'Fair maiden Lylliard lies under this stane,
Little was her stature, but great was her fame;
Upon the English louns she laid mony thumps,
And, when her legs were cutted off, she fought upon her stumps.'

-Vide Account of the Parish of Melrose.

(1) The Editor has found no instance upon record, of this family having taken assurance with England. Hence, they usually suffered dreadfully from the English forays. In August 1544 (the year preceding the battle), the whole lands belonging to Buccleuch, in West Teviotdale, were harried by Evers; the outworks, or barm-kin, of the tower of Branxholm burned; eight Scotts slain, thirty made prisoners, and an immense prey of horses, cattle, and sheep carried off. The lands upon Kale Water, belonging to the same chieftain, were also plundered, and much spoil obtained; 30 Scotts slain, and the Moss Tower (a fortress near Eokford), smoked very sore. Thus Buccleuch had a long account to settle at Ancrum Moor.—Murdin's State Papers, pp. 45, 46.

(2) Kirnetable, now called Cairntable, is a mountainous tract at the head of Douglasdale. [See notes to Castle Dangerous.— J. G. L.]

(3) [See 'Chevy Chase.'—J. G. L.]'

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