Circa AD 84
Battle of Mons Graupius
Publius Tacitus, the historian of the Roman Empire, recorded that
Gnaeus Julius Agricola, when Governor of Britain, marched on and
defeated a great force of Caledonians in an as yet unidentified
location between Strathmore and Moray. The Romans, with 8,000 infantry
and 3,000 cavalry, were allegedly greatly outnumbered, the strength of
the Caledonians being estimated at 30,000. After this event
it was claimed that Agricola had finally succeeded in subduing the
tribes of Britain.
Circa 603 Battle
Such information as exists comes from the chronicles of the Venerable
Bede, a Northumbrian monk who lived at the start of the 7th century.
The location of this battle is thought to have been in Liddesdale. The
Venerable Bede tells us that King Aidan of Dalriada was defeated by
Ethelfrith of Bernicia, King of Angles, and almost all of the Gaels
taking part in the action were killed.
Kirkyard 8th century Pictish stone, depicting the nearby Battle of
20th May 685 Battle
of Nechtansmere (or Dunnichen)
Near Forfar, in Angus, King Brude of the Picts defeated Angles under
Egfrith, King of Northumbria.
In today's East Lothian, Angus (or Oengus) King of Picts is said to
have won a great battle against Athelstane, King of
Northumbria. Tradition has it that on the eve of the battle,
King Angus prayed to Saint Andrew, Patron Saint of Scotland, and, the
following morning, a cross of white cloud against a blue sky was seen.
According to Walter Bower, a Scots Augustinian monk
(1385-1449), King Athelstane fled from the battlefield, but was killed
close to today's village of Athelstaneford, where now stands the
Scottish Flag Heritage Centre. Legend also has it that he was
decapitated and his head placed on a pole on an island in the Firth of
Forth. However, a major dilemma exists concerning Bower's account in
King Athelstane is also on record as having existed at the end of the
following century, and that he won a great battle against the Scots
under their King Constantine at Brunanburh (see below).
This King Athelstane, a grandson of Alfred the Great, was allegedly the
first King of all England. In 937, King Constantine II of
Alba invaded England with Welsh and Danish support and, according to
the Annals of Ulster, was conclusively defeated. The exact location of
the battle is unknown but it is thought to have been on Merseyside.
Circa 1018 Battle
(sometimes known as
Battle of Coldstream
This battle was fought at Carham-on-Tweed in England between the Scots,
led my Malcolm II and Owen of Strathclyde, against the Northumbrian
army. The ensuing Scottish victory established Scotland's possession of
Circa 1040 Battle
Writing in the 16th century, John Bellenden (or Ballantyne), Archdeacon
of Moray and Canon of Ross, makes mention of a Scandinavian
invasion being repelled by Macbeth in the vicinity of Kinghorn in Fife,
but detail and confirmation are illusive.
15th August 1057 Battle of Lumphanan
This was the confrontation in Aberdeenshire where Macbeth was killed by
Malcolm Canmore with the support of the Saxon King Edward the
Confessor. Canmore was determined to avenge his father, Duncan I, who
had been killed by his own men led by Macbeth in 1040. In William
Shakespeare's politically expedient version of the story, the battle
takes place at Dunsinane, north of Perth.
17th March 1058 Battle
Having ruled as King of Scots for just over six months, the 25-year old
Lulach, Macbeth's stepson, was killed by Malcolm III in a confrontation
22nd August 1138 Battle of the Standard
called Battle of
In support of his niece, Matilda, who claimed the English throne in
opposition to the incumbent King Stephen (who was married to another of
his nieces), David I of Scotland marched an army to Cowton Moor in
Yorkshire and was heavily defeated. King David and his surviving force
fell back to Carlisle where they re-grouped and a truce signed within a
2nd October 1263 Battle of Largs
The most significant event of the Scottish Norwegian wars of the 13th
century. The Norwegian army was led by King Haakon, and the Scots by
Alexander III. The Inner and Outer Hebrides, Kintyre, and the Isle of
Man, had paid homage to the Kings of Norway since around
1110. When news reached Haakon that the Scottish king was
planning to seize his territorial possessions, he set
off with a mighty fleet of ships and joined forces with King
Dougal of the Hebrides and King Magnus III of Man.
Having raided the coastline, however, Haakon moved south to the Firth
of Clyde on the West Ayrshire coast where he was attacked by a large
Scottish force, estimated at around 8,000 men. Although claimed as a
Scottish victory, the ensuing skirmish simply culminated in both sides
retreating. Winter was approaching, and Haakon sailed to
Orkney, planning to return in the following year, but he fell ill and
died on 15th December. Two years later, King Alexander successfully
invaded the Hebrides and negotiated with Haakon's successor, King
Magnus. Under the Treaty of Perth in 1266, Scottish
sovereignty was purchased in return for 4000 marks and an annual
payment of 100 marks in perpetuity.