Saturday, October 1, 2011

Battle of Largs

‘On the 1st October, 1263, Haco, having arrived on the western coast, commenced hostilities by making himself master of the Islands of Bute and Arran, lying in the mouth of the Frith of Clyde, and then appeared with his great navy off the village of Largs, in Cunninghame. The Scots were in arms to defend the shore, but Haco disembarked a great part of his troops, and obtained some advantages over them. On the next day, more Scottish troops having come up, the battle was renewed with great fury. Alexander, fighting in person at the head of his troops, was wounded in the face by an arrow. Alexander, the Steward, a high officer in the Scottish court, was killed. But the Danes lost the nephew of their King, one of the most renowned champions in their host. While the battle was still raging on shore, a furious tempest arose, which drove the ships of the Danes and Norwegians from their anchorage; many were shipwrecked on the coast, and the crews were destroyed by the Scots when they attempted to get upon land. The soldiers, who had been disembarked, lost courage, and retired before the Scots, who were hourly reinforced by their countrymen, coming from all quarters. It was with the utmost difficulty that Haco got the remnant of his scattered forces on board of such vessels as remained. He retired to the Orkney Islands, and there died, full of shame and sorrow for the loss of his army, and the inglorious conclusion of his formidable invasion.
The consequence of this victory was, that the King of the Island of Man, who had been tributary to Haco, now submitted himself- to the King of Scotland; and negotiations took place betwixt Alexander III. and Magnus, who had succeeded Haco in the throne of Norway, by which the latter resigned to the King of Scotland all right to the Islands on the western side of Scotland, called the Hebrides.
The traces of the battle of Largs, a victory of so much consequence to Scotland, are still to be found on the shores where the action was fought. There are visible great rocks and heaps of stones, beneath which lie interred the remains of the slain. Human bones are found in great quantities, and also warlike weapons, particularly axes and swords, which, being made of brass, remain longer unconsumed than if they had been of iron or steel like those now used.
Thus you see, Master Littlejohn, that down to the period of which we speak, Scotland had been a powerful and victorious nation, maintaining a more equal rank with England than could have been expected from the different size and strength of the two kingdoms, and repelling by force of arms those Northern people who had so long been the terror of Europe.’

Sir Walter Scott wrote of the Battle of Largs in his “Tales of a Grandfather”, dating the event on October 1st, in 1263.

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