Scottish Tartan Colours

Scottish tartan weavers distinguish between colour and shade when crafting a tartan. In traditional tartan weaving, a limited set of colours is used, but different shades of the same colour can be applied. This technique contributes to the variety and appeal of tartan designs. For example, the Modern, Ancient and Weathered versions of the lightweight Gordon tartan (shown below) are identical in pattern and size; each just uses different shades of the accepted colours.


                                                                                Gordon Modern Tartan

Gordon Modern Tartan

                                                                                         Gordon Ancient Tartan

Gordon Ancient Tartan

                                                                                         Gordon Weathered Tartan

Gordon Weathered Tartan


Additionally, each weaving mill has a signature set of colourways for their textiles. One mill’s green may vary significantly from another’s. So, if you are looking for something to precisely match your kilt or another garment, it’s crucial to try and identify the weaver first. Simply ordering a product with the same name may well cause disappointment when it doesn’t match as expected. Ordering woven tartan fabric samples, rather than relying on online images, is by far the best way to make sure that your tartan will be a good match.


Every tartan has a broad range of shades specified as “correct”, and as long as the pattern adheres to the standard, the sett size and exact shade used are less critical. For example, a MacDonald Clan modern tartan, woven by Lochcarron, will feature different shades of colours from a cloth produced by Strathmore, House of Edgar, or Ingles Buchan. At times, differences between the various mills are barely perceptible, and at other times, the difference is quite marked. Tartans from the same mill can vary in scale and shade. At first glance, a 16 oz. heavyweight large-scale tartan may appear quite different from a 10 oz. lightweight, but both are accurate representations of the original design.


Tartan Terms

Tartan descriptions can be confusing for beginners due to the numerous adjectives used, such as modern, ancient, repro, weathered, and muted. These terms do not refer to the age of the tartan, but rather the colour scheme used in its creation.


Modern colours refer to the introduction of new chemical dyes in the 1850s, which allowed for brighter and more intense shades. Some darker shades created by these dyes are nearly black, making it difficult to distinguish between dark green or blue and black. This can obscure the weaver’s colour choice, making subtle shades harder to distinguish. This may well explain why “ancient” colourways have become increasingly popular.


Ancient colours have less vibrant shades and these often show off the pattern to better effect. This palette became more popular in the 1950s and 1960s. The ancient palette tries to mimic the colours created by natural dyes, so reds, for example, may appear less scarlet and more orange. Sometimes old dyes are referred to as vegetable dyes, which isn’t strictly accurate. Many of them were indeed made from plants and flowers, but many also came from minerals or animals.


Weathered colours imitate the appearance of a tartan faded by exposure to elements like the sun, rain, wind, snow, frost, and heat. The colours become more “earthy,” with greens turning khaki brown and navy blues changing to muted slate greys.


Similar to weathered colours, muted shades mimic how a tartan would look when exposed to the Scottish elements.


These colours are recreations of how “found” tartans would have looked like when newly woven. This effect can be seen the Glen Affric and Ulster Tartans, which were found preserved in peat bogs and dated to around 500 years old.


There are a small number of tartan designs which have been found to be older than the pattern normally worn in modern times by the family or clan. The adjective “old” is sometimes used in these cases, such as Fraser Old, a sett that is actually older than other Fraser tartans.

If there is no adjective describing the colour palette at all, this normally implies the default of modern colours.

We hope you found this exploration of colours and dyes in Scottish tartans informative! For all your tartan needs and to discover your perfect match, visit our tartan viewer.

Burns Night Guide

Burns Night: A Guide from Scots Connection.


Robert Burns, Oil on Canvas, Alexander Nasmyth, 1787.


Burns Night celebrates the life and work of Scotland's national bard, 18th century poet Robert 'Rabbie' Burns. Taking place every year, on or around, January 25th, it is an occasion that is steeped in tradition and is widely celebrated throughout the country and around the world a by an estimated 9.5 million people each year. The bard's birthday is traditionally marked with a supper, where family and friends get together to enjoy fine food, whisky and entertainment. Burns Night is one of the most highly anticipated dates in the Scottish calendar with suppers varying from informal get-togethers to full blown formal events.

What to wear to on Burns Night

If you have never been to a Burns Night gathering before, bear in mind that it is about dressing up and celebrating Scotland. Traditional Scottish attire is a must at any Burns Night celebration - it is one of the events where people get the opportunity to express their cultural identity through the wearing of a Clan or family tartan. If you don't have connections to any of the major Scottish Clans or families, don't worry, you can wear one of the universal tartans, such as the Royal Stewart, Black Watch, Flower of Scotland, Patriot or Caledonia, these designs can be worn and enjoyed by anyone.

Formal wear is customary at most organised celebrations. Men, for example, are often encouraged to wear their full kilt outfit. If you don't own a kilt you can still look the part with a classic tartan cummerbund set or tartan waistcoat, even a simple bow tie will add the required touch of tartan. A set of fine Scottish silver cufflinks will add the perfect finishing touch to your Burns night attire.

Burns Night tartans.


Women can also join in the celebrations by wearing the traditional clothing associated with Burns Night. There are all sorts of examples of tartan wear available for ladies, ranging from tartan sashes and brooches to scarves and shawls. Those who really want to make an impression and celebrate their Scottish heritage may even choose to wear serapes and stoles, which are a classy addition to any evening outfit. Not to be outdone by the men, women can also wear traditional kilted tartan skirts to celebrate Burns Night in style.

Families throughout Scotland often host their own Burns Nicht celebrations, adding their own modern day twists to age-old traditions and often come up with their own unique ways of celebrating. If you're having an informal celebration at home you can take a more relaxed approach to dress, however it's recommended that you include some tartan in your outfit! You could wear a tartan scarf, tie, braces, cufflinks, skirt, or a full Highland Dress outfit, whatever you decide to wear make sure that it's made from an authentic Scottish woven tartan and not a fake copy from the far east or sub continent!!



Food and Drink



                                                                                                     Haggis, Neeps and Tatties

Food is an integral part of any Burns Night celebration. Most suppers start with Cock-a-leekie soup or Scotch broth, then it's the haggis which is traditionally accompanied by bashed neeps and chappit tatties - otherwise known as mashed swedes and potatoes. This is followed by a pudding of either Clootie Dumpling, Cranachan or Tipsy Laird. The supper ends with a cheese board and oat cakes or bannocks.

Whisky tends to be the tipple of choice on Burns Night - both malts and blends are typically served at the table. There is some debate over whether whisky should be poured over the haggis, with some people arguing that it hides the unique taste of the dish. Alternatively, those who do not like whisky might want to try red wine with their meal. The flavour and texture of haggis tends to make this a better option than white or other varieties.





Music, Poems, Toasts and Entertainment

The programme at organised Burns Suppers includes traditional music, toasts, songs, poetry and can be followed by a ceilidh dance.

Cutting the Haggis with a Sgian Dubh.


One of the highlights of the evening is the build up to the main course. The guests all stand to attention, while a piper leads in the haggis, which is carried aloft by the chef on a large platter, to the electrifying skirl of the pipes. The 'Address to the Haggis' is then recited and the “great chieftain of the pudding race” is cut and served.

The first entertainment is normally a performance of one of Burns’ famous songs or poems such as Ae Fond Kiss, A Red, Red Rose or Tam O’ Shanter. Throughout the evening further moving recitals and traditional songs are performed. These include a toast to the bard, which is known as the 'Immortal Memory ' and the humourous 'Address to the Lassies' and 'The Reply from the Lassies'.
Burns Night ceilidh dance.


The evening concludes with a vote of thanks and a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne. At the larger gatherings the evening may well be rounded off with Scottish dancing to a ceilidh band.

No matter how you decide to mark the event, remember to raise a glass to the bard who wrote that “Freedom and Whisky Gang Thegither”. Slàinte mhath!

Kiltmaking at Scots Connection

Our kilts are hand stitched throughout, with a minimum of twenty nine, and up to thirty five, hand lifted deep pleats. Pleating will normally be to the sett, but can be to the line in the regimental manner, if specially requested.

We use superior heavy duty bridle leather kilt straps which are exclusively made for us at an Aberdeenshire saddlery. The kilt straps are made from the best quality vegetable dyed bridle butt leather. Our kilt straps cost us three times the price of regular straps, but we don't pass this cost on to our valued customers. The difference in quality speaks for itself, we guarantee that our straps will last a lifetime.

We fit two of our high quality straps with hand cast buckles straps to every kilt we make. The additional seat buckle and strap found on most modern kilts is a hangover from the old military kilts with massive 4” rises. We find this additional kilt strap to be the most common cause of a kilt apron pulling tight and not sitting correctly. It is completely unnecessary on the civilian kilt with a 2” rise and is best left out.

The unseen work on a kilt is extremely important but often neglected to cut costs. Our kilt makers pad stitch heavy canvas by hand along the back of the kilt at the top of the pleats to preventing sagging. Our kilts are all ‘lifted’ by backstitching each pleat by hand along the seat line, further ensuring that the kilt holds its shape throughout its long life. This is one of the most labour intensive stages in the construction of a kilt and often missed out completely by inferior kilt makers. 

Scottish Genealogy - Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors Page 1

Scottish Genealogy - Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors.

TRACING your Scottish ancestors has never been simpler. All that is needed is a name or two and an approximate location as to where they were domiciled. The next step is to try an Internet search, but remember to take into account that surnames can have different spellings. Robert Burns, for example, was the son of William Burnes. The great eighteenth century philosopher David Hume spelled his surname with a ”u” whereas his brother preferred an “o”. It all adds to the excitement of the chase.

Victorian Scottish family
Victorian Scottish family

All of our ancestors are interesting since they were all necessary in handing down life to us, and, on that basis, we owe it to them to find out who they were, and what they did, good or bad. Most of us know a little about our grandparents, but remarkably few of us can go further back than three generations, which is a shame as it does suggest a lack of respect.

All of us are who we are because of our genetic make-up. How disappointed our forebears would be to know how soon they have been forgotten, especially when it has never been easier to re-connect with the past. All that is required to find out more about them is a desire to do so, and a certain amount of time and patience.

In centuries past, births, marriages, and deaths were recorded in bibles passed down through the generations, but how many of these have survived? Across the centuries so many families have been broken up and scattered through no fault of their own but as a result of poverty, unhappy liaisons, blood feuds and rivalries, wars and emigration. In the relentless dispersal of communities, so much has been lost, but thankfully not irretrievably.

Today, genealogy, coupled with ancestral tourism, is big business. Even the Scottish Government and Visit Scotland have got in on the act by seriously promoting their interlinking web sites at Ancestral Scotland and Scotland's People. Never before has finding out who you are been so simple.

All of Scotland's local census records, which begin on the night of 6th June 1841, can be sourced on-line. If you know the town, village, district or parish in which your ancestors lived, the information you can unearth with just a few clicks of your mouse can be a revelation.

In 1841, the gathering of census information was undertaken in each Scottish county, with Scotland divided into enumeration districts, based largely on the existing parishes. Larger or more populous parishes were sub-divided to enable the enumerator to gather all the necessary information within the day. Thereafter, the same procedure was followed at ten year intervals to the present day.

Church records also provide a useful source of reference, but you must take into account that it was only after January 1855 that civil registrations was made compulsory, regardless of religious denomination.

From then on death records showed the date, time and place of death, the deceased's name, sex, marital status, age and occupation, cause of death, duration of last illness, doctor's name and details of the informant. In addition, they indicated the usual residence, the deceased's place of birth, spouse's name, and their parents' names and occupations and whether they were deceased; also the names and ages of children, or age and year of death if the child pre-deceased the parent.

Scottish Genealogy - Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors Page 2

Researching Your Scottish Roots - Graveyards to Passenger lists.


Up to 1860, the place of burial, the name of the undertaker and when the doctor last saw the deceased alive, were also included. However, as with births and marriages, this amount of detail proved difficult to maintain. The deceased's birthplace was removed from 1856, as were the names of any children. The spouses name was also not required, but was reinstated in 1861.

Marnoch Kirkyard
Marnoch Kirkyard

Exploring old graveyards is immensely rewarding, not least because in addition to your own connections, it brings you into close proximity with so many familiar names from the pages of history. But you have to be single minded. A large number of old churches, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Catholic and interdenominational, but by no means all, have a graveyard index. Many of these date from the early eighteenth century. Others, such as the Necropolis, Glasgow's famous “City of the Dead”, only began in 1832.

To go back further in time, you have to be resourceful. At the last count there were no less than 27 local history societies located throughout Scotland. These provide an invaluable service by housing newspapers on microfilm and books relating to the past. Alternatively, you can research the constituency voters lists which became available after parliamentary reform in 1832.

But be warned. It is easy to be side-tracked by the enormous volume of information available and, if you are not very careful, it can all too soon become a marathon task. Keeping to a proscribed area of investigation is essential. Start with one decade at a time, establish where you need to start looking and move on with what you find.

Take, for example, the East Ayrshire burghs of Cumnock, Darvel, Galston, Kilmarnock, Newmilns and Greenholm and Stewarton, where official records are held at the state-of-the-art Burns monument Centre in Kilmarnock. East Lothian Council operates a similar service in Haddington, as does Aberdeen City Council for Grampian region, and so on, and so on. The local authority led genealogy network is impressive.

You should also be aware of mobility. Up until the end of the sixteenth century, Scots employed on the land rarely travelled more than twenty miles to find a wife (or husband). From the seventeenth century onwards, largely through necessity, they became travellers, pioneers and colonisers.

Up and down the social scale, infant mortality coupled with an absence of birth control frequently meant that families consisted of as many as sixteen or more siblings. As soon as they were old enough, younger sons were therefore obliged to move away from home and make their own way in the world; daughters were expected to wed where and when the opportunity presented itself.

With primogeniture an established tradition, only in the remote communities of the Highlands was land divided up under the run-rig system, bringing about an impossible state of over-crowding. In the Highland Clearances of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, droves of Highlanders departed the land, some voluntarily, others legally evicted by their landlords to make way for sheep farming.

Scotland Emigration NZ Poster Image
Scotland Emigration NZ Poster

Similarly, in the Lowlands, thousands of tenant farmers and cottars migrated from their farms and small holdings to the new industrial centres of Glasgow, Edinburgh, or over the water to Ireland and across the Atlantic to America and Canada. As a result, there are now over 15 million people in America alone who claim Scottish descent, and such statistics. Similar numbers of expatriates are to be found in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Unfortunately, there are very few records in The National Archives of Scotland (NAS) which list the names and details of emigrants. The Colonial Office, based in London, was responsible for emigration in the 19th century and its records are held by The National Archives (London) (TNA). They also hold the surviving outward passenger lists from 1890.

Passenger lists from boats sailing from Greenock to Upper Canada and New York after 1700 can be found in the ships list website. Sometimes it is advisable to search sources outside of Scotland, and it is well known that the Mormon Church (LDS or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) operates a huge online database.

Scottish Genealogy - Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors Page 3

Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry - Scots Connection.


Crimean War Heroes
Crimean War Heroes

Military records are another matter. From 1603, there are the muster rolls of the individuals who fought in the Scottish Regiments, and these are housed in the National Archives of Scotland. Several Scottish regiments have their own museums housing information about past units and the men who served in them. A copy of the published Army Lists, a microfiche index to the roll of service medals for the First World War, and a small collection of regimental casualty lists can be inspected at the National War Museum in Edinburgh Castle.

The General Register Office for Scotland holds the following armed forces records: the Army Returns (births, deaths and marriages of Scots at military stations abroad from 1881-1959); Service Departments Registers (births, deaths and marriages from 1959 outside the UK relating to Scots serving in or employed by HM Forces); and marriages by Army chaplains outside the UK since 1892. The registers also record deaths of: Scottish soldiers during the South African War (1899 -1902); Scots serving as Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers or Men in the Army (but not officers) and also Petty Officers or Men in the Royal Navy during World War I (1914 -1918), and Scots in the Armed Forces during World War II (1939 -1945).

However, the reality, and most intriguing aspect of all of this, is that if any of one of us with Scottish descent is able to go back far enough, we are all of us somehow connected to one another, even some of those who belong to immigrant families from the past century. When you consider that in the fifteenth century, the overall population of Scotland was less than 500,000, it goes without saying that at some point through the generations an itinerant family member is likely to have got it together with someone else's long forgotten ancestor, be they from the north, south, east or west.


So like it or not, we are all of us related to each other somewhere in the distant past, but at the same time we must never forget that there is no such a thing as a “pure Scot.”

The Scotland of old comprised the original Scots from Ireland, indigenous Picts and Norsemen to the north, Angles and Saxons, Normans and Strathclyde Britons to the south, and a constant flow of immigrants from mainland Europe and Low Countries. Great families such as the Bruces, Morays, Douglases and Sinclairs were from Normandy; the Leslies descend from Bartolf, a Hungarian, and the Flemings were originally from Flanders.

As a result, there have been fundamental racial and cultural differences to contend with over the centuries. Given the size of the population and the inter-breeding and social structure of the sixteenth century, a composite symbiosis soon emerged, but the tall stature and red hair of the Viking, the dark looks of the Celt, and the physical characteristics of the Saxon are still very recognisable in our national physiognomy.

The National Archives of Scotland ( is based at three locations in Edinburgh: HM General Register House and West Register House, which are both open to the public, and Thomas Thomson House in the Sighthill area of the city which is the main repository. Access to all of the archives is open to members of the public.

However, venturing back before the sixteenth century is the most challenging task, and really only possible where an identifiable ancestor is associated with knightly deeds and the ownership of land. Since this information is invariably held in old Charters, a knowledge of Latin and Old Scots becomes essential, but even then it is not as straightforward as one might hope.

When Edward I of England invaded Scotland in 1296, he confiscated the National Records and it was not until as late as 1948 that those that still existed were returned.

A fresh start was made in the reign of King Robert I but in 1650, history repeated itself when Oliver Cromwell made his punitive incursion into Scotland and removed the bulk of Scotland's vernacular documents to London. As an act of appeasement, the legal registers were returned seven years later, but it was not until the restoration of Charles II in 1660 that the remaining records from that period were sent back.

Royalty Image Even then it was a disaster. One of the two ships transporting the files sank in a storm off the Northumbrian coast, and thus much of medieval research in Scotland is today almost entirely dependent upon the records held by some of the old ennobled families who have somehow managed to hold onto them.

This is where membership of a clan or family society can open many a door. For example, the Clan Donald Centre on the isle of Skye has a database of several thousand Skye families, and the MacDonald Estate Papers provide a unique collection of original rentals and estate documents relating to Skye and North Uist.

Clan Campbell of North America has a Genealogy Programme. Clan Cameron operates an interactive network as does Clan Chattan and Clan Ferguson North America. The Clan Donnachaidh and the Canadian Chapter of Clan Mackenzie are among those who have launched their own DNA database sites.

Knowing who your ancestors are is far from being the prerogative of the blue blooded. It is a right and a privilege accessible to all of us. Everyone of Scottish descent, rich and poor alike, has a similarly unique and fascinating story to tell. All they have to do is follow the clues.

Scottish Monarchs Page 1

The Monarchs of Scotland - Scots Connection.

Calgacus, from the processional frieze of famous Scots, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, William Hole 1898
Calgacus, from the processional frieze of famous Scots, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, William Hole 1898

THE Scottish Nation successfully absorbed several races as it evolved between the sixth and fourteenth centuries. The early Scots were a Celtic people from Ireland who invaded and settled the North West Coast of mainland Britain. Already in place were the indigenous Picts, referred to by the Roman orator Eumenius as early as AD296, and so called because they painted their bodies (Picti in Latin means 'painted people').

However, only from the ninth century is it considered correct to use the word “Scot” when referring to the inhabitants of northern Britain. Before this, the Irish word “Scotti” referred only to descendants of the Celtic Dál Riata from north -east Ireland, who began to occupy the coastline of Argyllshire and western Scotland from the ninth century. Up until then, the territory from Caithness to Fife was inhabited by Pictish tribes, with Southern Scotland occupied by Angles and Britons. Central Scotland, however, was occupied by the Romans from around 84AD, after Gnaeus Julius Agricola had won the Battle of Mons Graupius against the Caledonian leader Calgacus. The ongoing fierceness of the local tribes and the harshness of the climate soon drove the Romans south behind the 37-mile long Antonine Wall which connected the Firths of Forth and Clyde. By 122AD, they had retreated even further to the south behind the better constructed Hadrian's Wall which runs from Wallsend on the River Tyne to the Solway Firth, a strategic fortification which they finally abandoned in the early fifth century.

c.500  Fergus Mor McErc (Fergus, son of Fergus) - WHILE little is known about him, Fergus Mor McErc is widely accepted in medieval texts as the founder of the Scottish nation which emerged around c.500AD.  The tradition says that he and his followers arrived from Ireland, and that they brought with them the mystical Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny upon which he and his successors were subsequently crowned. He was succeeded after his death by his son Dúngal. Thereafter, sources are obscure and contradictory until the arrival of Alpin, although it is believed that Fergus's grandsons were Gabrán mac Domangairt and Comgall, and that a great-grandson was named Aédan mac Gabrán. It is also known that various Pictish Kings died in battle against either Viking invaders or in family feuds – notably Uven Mac Angus, Eogån, and latterly Ōengus II, brother of Caustantin.

Scottish Monarchs Page 2

Scottish Kings and Queens - Alpin to Malcolm II.


House of Alpin

833-c. 40 Alpin, King of Dál Riata (Dalriada) - ALPIN is the first tribal leader on record to be styled King of Dál Riata, which then comprised Kintyre with a few territories on mainland Northern Ireland. From the evidence that exists, he appears to have died in a battle against the Picts in Galloway. However, the same legend has it that he had married a Pict princess and this allowed his son Kenneth to unite the two kingdoms through the Celtic tradition of inheritance through the female line.

The Merger of the Pictish and Celtic Thrones

843- 60 Kenneth I
IT was this Kenneth who formally united the Kingdom of Dál Riata with that of the Picts, allegedly by killing his rival the Pict King Drust, nephew of Ōengus II. In the event, he ruled for only for a further three years and was buried on the Isle of Iona.

660-63 Donald I
DONALD succeeded his brother Kenneth as King of Picts and Scots under the rules of Tanistry, which inevitably caused jealousies among members of his own family. His reign was brief and only lasted for three years.

863-77 Constantine I
THE eldest son of Kenneth I, Constantine succeeded his uncle. As with his predecessors, much of his reign was preoccupied with defending Scotland against the Vikings who invaded in force under the warlord Olaf the White in 870. Olaf attacked Dumbarton, the Capital of the Strathclyde Britons. Although the castle was forced to surrender, Artgal, King of the Britons, managed to escape. He was later assassinated by Aedh, on the instructions of Constantine who determined to acquire Strathclyde for himself. Soon afterwards, Constantine himself was killed and beheaded in another battle against the Vikings at Inverdorat, in Angus. He was buried on the Isle of Iona.

877-78 Aedh
BROTHER of Constantine, Aedh was known as “Swift Foot” but, with his nephew Eochaidh plotting against him, his reign lasted barely one year. He was killed by his cousin Giric at Strathallan.

878-89 Eochaid and Giric
EOCHAID was Kenneth I's grandson, the son of Run, King of Strathclyde, and grandson of Artgal, King of the Britons, who had been murdered by Aedh. He ruled jointly with his cousin Giric, who probably was acting as Regent. Giric was certainly a powerful administrator, adding the Cumbrian district to Strathclyde and freeing Galloway from the Angles. Giric was killed in a battle at Dundern in Perthshire, and it is thought that after this Eochaid was sent into exile.

889 -900 Donald II - “The Madman”
IN the Chronicles of the Kings of Alba, Donald, eldest son of Constantine I, appears to have passed the reign of his father's murderers in Ireland where his aunt was the wife of two Irish High Kings. At this stage, the old Kingdom of Dalriada was increasingly being merged with its acquired territories and being referred to as Alba. While this was going on, however, the King of Norway, Harold Fairhair, was busy consolidating his hold over the Shetlands, Orkney, Hebrides and Caithness. After only one year on the throne, Donald died in battle at Dunottar, but implications from surviving texts suggest that it was at the hands of Gaels, not Vikings.

900 -42 Constantine II
SON of Aedh, who led invasions into England which provoked fierce retaliation from the Northumbrian King Athelstane, he was eventually defeated at Brunanburgh and abdicated to become a monk in St Andrews.

942-50 Malcolm I
SON of Donald II, he succeeded his uncle Constantine II. Forging an alliance with Edmund of Wessex, he appears to have acquired the region of Strathclyde, and, after Edmund's murder, raided Northumbria. Acclaimed as a law-bringer who sought to rid the north of Viking colonisation, he was nevertheless killed in a battle with the Men of Moray at Kincardine

950-62 Indulf
INDULF was the son of Constantine II, and the Kingdom of Scots during his reign was extended south to encompass Edinburgh and some of the Lothians. He was allegedly killed by Norse invaders at Cullen, although another account has his death taking place at St Andrews.

962-67 Dubh, possibly Duff
DUBH succeeded to the throne on the death of Indulf. He appears to have been unpopular from the start and was eventually murdered at Forres by followers of his cousin Colin, who succeeded him.

967-71 Colin or Cuilean
SON of King Indulf, Colin was assassinated by Riderch, a ruler of Strathclyde, allegedly in vengeance for murdering his brother and the rape of his daughter.

971-71 Eochaid II (Kromneus, or “Crook Nose”)
BROTHER of Colin who briefly occupied the throne before he himself was murdered.

971-95 Kenneth II
A brother of Dubh, and cousin of Colin and Eochaid II, who paid tribute to Edgar of England as his Overlord, thereby creating the precedent for generations to follow. He was killed near Fettercairn in Kincardineshire, allegedly betrayed to his enemies by Fenella, daughter of the Mormaer of Angus and wife of the Mormaer of the Mearns.

995- 97 Constantine III
SON of Colin (Cuilean), Constantine, said to be the last of the line of Aedh, succeeded Kenneth II and was killed in battle eighteen months later, possibly by his successor.

997-1005 Kenneth III
THE son of Dubh and a grandson of Malcolm I acquired the throne, but was killed himself at Monzievaird by the future Malcolm II.

1005-34 Malcolm II
SON of Kenneth II, whose succession was challenged by various rivals following his father's death. He consolidated his position in 1005, and the following year laid siege to the Northmbrian-held town of Durham. His victory in 1018 at Carham secured him control over Lothian.

Scottish Monarchs Page 3

Scottish Kings and Queens - Duncan I to Margaret Maid of Norway.


House of Dunkeld (1034-1286)

1034 –40 Duncan I
DUNCAN was the son of Malcolm II's daughter Bethoc and Crinan, Hereditary Abbot of Dunkeld, and succeeded his grandfather as King. The early years of his reign appear to have been peaceful, but in 1039 he led an army into England in retaliation against a Northumbrian attack on Strathclyde. He attacked the town of Durham, but was forced to retreat. The following summer, for reasons unknown, he marched into Moray, traditionally controlled by Macbeth, where he was killed in battle near Elgin, allegedly by his own men who were loyal to Macbeth.

1040-57 Macbeth
THE son of Finlay, Mormaer of Moray, and allegedly another daughter of Malcolm II, he married the Lady Gruoch, a granddaughter of Kenneth III, following the death of her first husband. When Duncan I invaded his territories of Moray, he conspired in his murder, and two years later, may have been instrumental in the killing of Duncan's father Crinan of Dunkeld. Contrary to the myths perpetuated by the English playwright William Shakespeare's version of the story, Macbeth ruled over Scotland for seventeen years and was confident enough to embark upon a pilgrimage to Rome in 1050. Four years later, however, Scotland was invaded by Siward, Earl of Northumbria, acting on behalf of the Saxon king, Edward the Confessor. Although Macbeth survived the ensuing battle, the Saxons nominated Duncan I's son Malcolm Canmore in his place. The fighting continued and Macbeth was killed by Malcolm three years later at the Battle of Lumphanan.

1057-58 Lulach “The Simple”
THE son of the Lady Gruoch by her first husband, Gille Coemgain, Mormaer of Moray, and through his mother a great grandson of Kenneth III, Lulach was briefly made king by his followers on his step-father's demise, but was shortly afterwards killed by Malcolm at Essie, near Rhynie, Strathbogie.

St Margaret, St. Margaret's Chapel, Edinburgh Castle. Douglas Strachan (1875-1950). Stained glass Window 1922
St Margaret, St. Margaret's Chapel, Edinburgh Castle. Douglas Strachan (1875-1950). Stained glass window 1922

1058-93 Malcolm III (Canmor or Ceann Mor, meaning “Big Head”)
EXILED to England following the overthrow of his father by Macbeth, Malcolm soon emerged as a formidable soldier. His first wife was Ingibjorg, daughter of Thorfinn Sigurdsson, Jarl of Orkney (although some historians believe that she was Thorfinn's widow and not his daughter). She and Malcolm had three sons, Duncan, Donald and Malcolm. After Ingibjorg’s death around 1069, the fugitive Margaret Atheling, a great-niece of the Saxon king, Edward the Confessor, and sister of Edgar Atheling, Saxon claimant to the English throne, arrived in Scotland. She and Malcolm married and they had eight children, four of whom in turn became Scottish kings. Their daughter Mathilda married Henry I of England. Margaret made a profound impact on Scotland's religion by introducing the Roman faith, and, in recognition of this, she was canonised by the Pope in 1249. In the course of his reign, Malcolm invaded England five times and in 1072, was forced by William the Conqueror to sign the Treaty of Abernethy. After William's death in 1087, Malcolm invaded England again. He was killed with his eldest son Edward at Alnwick in 1093. By Ingibjorg, he had three sons, and by Margaret, six.

1093-94 Duncan II
ELDEST son of Malcolm III and Saint Margaret, he was held hostage by William the Conqueror in 1072, but on his father's death his claim to the Scottish throne was supported by William II of England. He was killed in battle six months later and superseded by his uncle, Donald Bane.

1094-95 Donald III “Donald Bane”
THE younger son of the deposed Duncan I, he had gone into exile in the Western Isles for the duration of Macbeth's reign. On the death of his brother Malcolm III, he returned to the mainland to oppose his nephew, Duncan II, briefly becoming king until overthrown, imprisoned and blinded by another nephew, Edgar.

1095 –97 Edmund
THE second son of Malcolm III and Saint Margaret, he appears to have been willing to share the kingdom with his treacherous uncle Donald Bane, whom he succeeded. On the intercession of his brothers and maternal uncle, however, he retired into Holy Orders to to become a monk in Somerset, England.

1097-1107 Edgar
FOURTH son of Malcolm III and Saint Margaret, Edgar supported his half-brother Duncan II, and, on his death invaded Scotland with the support of the English king, William Rufus, taking possession of Lothian. The year after he ascended the Scottish throne, he signed a treaty with Magnus Barefoot, King of Norway, in regard to Norse claims in the Hebrides. Like all of his brothers, he was deeply religious and endowed churches in St Andrews, Coldingham, Dumfries and Durham. He died in Edinburgh and was buried at Dunfermline Abbey.

1107-24 Alexander I - “The Fierce”
FIFTH son of Malcolm III and Saint Margaret, Alexander founded Augustinian religious houses at Scone and on Inchcolm Island, in the Firth of Forth, and prohibited the acknowledgement of English supremacy by bishops of St Andrews. He married Sybilla, a natural daughter of Henry I of England, who was his sister's husband, but they had no children.

David I and Malcolm IV, from the Kelso Abbey Charter, illuminated initial, 1159
David I and Malcolm IV, from the Kelso Abbey Charter, illuminated initial, 1159

1124-53 David I
THE youngest son of Malcolm III and Saint Margaret, David was born in 1084, brought up in England at the Court of his brother-in-law, Henry I, and married Maud, daughter of Waltheof, Earl of Northumbria. During the reign of his brother Alexander I, he controlled southern Scotland as “Earl”, and, on inheriting the Scottish throne, did much to reorganise his realm along Norman principles. To this end, he encouraged the foundation of religious houses and invited many of the Anglo-Norman friends he had made in England to Scotland, offering them land in return for their services.

King David's son and heir Henry, Earl of Huntingdon, pre-deceased him in 1152. Earl Henry had married Ada de Warenne, a relative of William the Conqueror, and their sons Malcolm and William would both succeed as kings of Scotland. One daughter married Florent III of Holland; another, Conan IV, Duke of Brittany, then Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Hereditary Constable of England, and Princess Marjorie, the third surviving daughter, married Gillechrist, Earl of Angus.

David's support of his niece Mathilda against her cousin Stephen, Count of Bulogne (both Mathilda and Stephen were grandchildren of William the Conqueror) ended with Mathilda's defeat at the Battle of the Standard in 1138. The enmity continued with David joining Mathilda in London in 1151 to accompany her to Winchester. In failing health, he died at Carlisle.

1153-65 Malcolm IV - The Maiden
GRANDSON of David I, Malcolm succeeded his grandfather at the age of twelve and soon found himself having to confront the anti-Norman factions of his kingdom. Among these was Somerled, ancestor of the Clan Donald and acknowledged by the Gales as “King of the Hebrides”. Providentially, he soon became preoccupied with a war against the King of Man. Malcolm meanwhile ceded several of his English land holdings to his cousin Henry II of England, and fought alongside him in France. Returning to Scotland, he suppressed an uprising in Galloway, and when Somerled laid siege to Glasgow in 1164, the islesmen were repelled and Somerled and his son killed. Deeply religious, Malcolm founded a Cistercian Abbey in Coupar Angus.

1165-1214 William I - The Lion
THE second son of Henry, Earl of Huntingdon by Ada de Warenne, William “The Lion” invaded England in 1174, and was taken prisoner at Alnwick, whereupon he was forced to sign The Treaty of Falaise, which acknowledged his cousin Henry II as his feudal overlord. This agreement was overturned in 1189 with the Quitclaim of Canterbury, in which Henry's successor Richard I of England negated the obligation in return for a payment of 10,000 merks (a Scottish silver coin worth one twelfth of its sterling equivalent). During his reign, William suppressed rebellions in Galloway and Ross, and consolidated his rule north to the Pentland Firth. He married Ermengarde de Beaumont and they had two sons and three daughters: Princess Margaret, who married Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent; Princess Matilda, who married the fourth Earl of Norfolk, and Princess Marjorie, who married the fourth Earl of Pembroke. It was through his second son, who inherited the earldom of Huntingdon, that all future kings of Scotland after the death of the Maid of Norway are descended.

1214-49 Alexander II
SON of William I, and born in Haddington, Alexander suppressed rebellions in Moray, Argyll, Caithness and Galloway, and began to counter-attack the Viking incursions into the Western Isles. In 1215, he gave his support to the English barons in their confrontation with King John, which led to the signing of the Magna Carta. He renounced his claim to Northumberland and to consolidate his friendly relationship with Henry III, King John's successor, married Henry’s sister, Princess Joan. Following her death, he married Marie de Courcy, daughter of a Picard lord and by whom he had his only son. He died on the island of Kerrera, off Oban in Argyll.

1249-86 Alexander III
THE only son of Alexander II, he had fourteen years into his reign to contend with a formidable invasion from King Haakon of Norway, who fortuitously withdrew after the indecisive conclusion of the Battle of Largs. The situation was resolved after Haakon's death in 1263 and the Hebrides was ceded to the Scottish Crown at the Treaty of Perth in return for a monetary payment. Although Alexander maintained close ties with England, he firmly avoided paying homage to the English king. His first wife was Princess Margaret of England, daughter of Henry III; his second wife, Yolande, daughter of the Comte de Dreux. In his excitement to return to her at his castle at Kinghorn in Fife, he crossed the Firth of Forth in a storm and fell from his horse on the cliffs near to his destination, where he died. Tragically, his three children by Queen Joan had pre-deceased him, leaving only his granddaughter Margaret as his direct heir.

1286-90 Margaret - The Maid of Norway
WITH the tragic, unexpected death of her grandfather, Princess Margaret of Norway (daughter of Princess Margaret of Scotland and King Erik of Norway) was named heir to the Scottish throne, and betrothed to the six-year old Prince Edward of England. She was seven years old when she was despatched by boat to claim her realm under the regency of six Scottish nobles but mysteriously died off the coast of Orkney. Her demise threw the succession to the Scottish throne into chaos, and her uncle, Edward I of England, promptly pronounced himself Overlord of Scotland. There then began a process to select a replacement monarch in which thirteen candidates came forward – Florent V, Count of Holland; Patrick of Dunbar, Earl of March; William de Vesey, William de Ros, Robert de Pinkeney, Nicholas de Soules, Roger de Mandeville, Patrick Golightly, John Hastings, John Balliol, John Comyn of Badenoch, Robert de Brus, and, as father of Queen Mary, King Eric of Norway himself. After lengthy negotiations, John Bailliol was chosen by Edward and enthroned at Scone on 30th November, 1292..

Scottish Monarchs Page 4

Scottish Kings and Queens - John Balliol to David II.


House of Balliol (1286-1306)

John Balliol, King of Scotland, offers homage to King Edward I of England, 1292. Chroniques de France ou de St Denis, illuminated manuscript, c.1400
John Balliol, King of Scotland, offers homage to King Edward I of England, 1292. Chroniques de France ou de St Denis, illuminated manuscript, c.1400
1292-1306 John Balliol
GRANDSON of David, Earl of Huntingdon (younger brother of Malcolm IV and William I), and the son of the immensely wealthy Devorguilla (daughter and one of the heiresses of Alan, Lord of Galloway), John Balliol was championed by Edward I of England to become King of Scots. However, finding it impossible to comply with Edward's dictatorial demands, he rebelled in 1296. Edward promptly invaded Scotland and, following his defeat at the first Battle of Dunbar in 1296, Balliol resigned the kingdom to the Bishop of Durham, as Edward's representative, at Brechin. He was kept captive in England for three years, and then allowed to live out his days on his estates in France.

Watching as Balliol was stripped of his Royal insignia was a twenty-two year old Robert Bruce, grandson of the de Brus claimant of 1292. The young Bruce had hitherto enjoyed a close relationship with Edward I. Being large landowners in England, both he and his father had sided with Edward against Balliol.

Thereafter, Edward I of England imposed his governance over Scotland, but not without resistance. As this gained momentum, its leaders were revealed: men such as Sir William Wallace of Elderslie, and the now almost forgotten Andrew de Moravia, who died after the Battle of Stirling Bridge in which the English army was decimated. In an unprecedented step, the nobles of Scotland appointed William Wallace, Regent of Scotland.

The guerilla warfare continued for eight years, with notable Scottish defeats such as at Falkirk (1297), and Scottish victories such as the Battle of Rosslyn Glen (1303). Then in 1305, Wallace was betrayed and, taken for trial at Westminster, he was dragged through the streets of London to be hanged, drawn and quartered. It was at this stage that many Scots, appalled at the barbarity of the sentence, rose up in protest, and these included Robert Bruce who, with the death of his father, had become head of the House of Bruce. As a descendant of David I, he now claimed the Scottish throne.

House of Bruce (1306-1371)

Robert the Bruce at the borestone, Bannockburn, Stirling. Charles d'Orville Pilkington Jackson
Robert the Bruce at the borestone, Bannockburn, Stirling. Charles d'Orville Pilkington Jackson
(1887-1973). Bronze statue, 1964
1306-29 Robert I (The Bruce)
NOT much is known about the early life of Scotland's hero king, but he would have been on the sidelines when the Scottish Crown was allocated to his cousin John Balliol in 1292. He was the eldest son of Robert de Brus, sixth Lord of Annandale, and Marjorie, Countess of Carrick, and his grandfather and father subsequently supported Edward I of England in the overthrow of King John, whom they regarded as a usurper.

In 1296, both the younger Robert and his father rendered homage to Edward I at Berwick-upon-Tweed. However, the former was ambivalent. He supported the Scottish revolt of the following year, relented in exchange for a pardon from Edward, he then changed his mind again with the Scottish victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. Edward I immediately plundered Bruce's lands in Annandale, and when Sir William Wallace, who had been appointed Guardian of Scotland, stood down following his defeat at Falkirk, Bruce and his cousin John Comyn were made Joint-Guardians of the Kingdom.

Both, however, had a serious claim to the throne of Scotland, and soon found themselves at odds with one another. In 1296, William Lamberton, Bishop of St Andrews stepped in to mediate between them, but Bruce resigned and Sir John de Soulis took over as sole-Guardian.

The conflict between Bruce and Comyn came to its climax in 1306 when the two men met at Greyfriars Church in Dumfries and Comyn was murdered. Bruce rode immediately to Scone where he was confirmed as King of Scots by the Scottish nobility. The English responded violently and Bruce went on the run, travelling through the Lowlands and to the Western Isles.

That same year, with only six hundred men, he defeated an English force ten times larger at Loudounhill. The news travelled fast and Edward I of England personally led an army north, but by then he was an old man and died on the march. His successor, Edward II of England was of a very different mould, preoccupied with his favourites at Court. In 1309, King Robert called a Parliament in St Andrews at which a peace treaty with England was proposed, but the skirmishing continued.

When Edward II finally invaded Scotland in 1314, Bruce was ready for him. At the Battle of Bannockburn the English army was soundly defeated and in the following year at Ayr, the succession of the Scottish throne was universally confirmed upon Robert Bruce, and, failing males of his body, his brother Edward and his heirs male, or failing them, Robert's daughter by his first marriage, Marjorie and her heirs. Shortly after this event, Marjorie married Walter Stewart, sixth Steward of Scotland.

King Robert had married first Isabella, daughter of the Earl of Mar, who died in 1296; secondly, Elizabeth de Burgh, daughter of the Earl of Ulster.

Although his situation was now secure, he had been excommunicated by the Pope. In 1320, the Scottish Clergy and barons petitioned Rome with the Declaration of Arbroath which declared the Nation's undying loyalty to its King. Although at first indifferent, Pope John XXII officially recognised King Robert I of Scotland in 1329, the year of his death. At the same time, the Treaty of Northampton between England and Scotland negated any claims that England still had over Scotland.

1329 -71 David II
SON of Robert I by his second marriage, David married Princess Joanna, sister of Edward III of England at the age of five. Following his father's death, however, he had to face up to an invasion from Edward Balliol and his English supporters. In 1334, he and Queen Joanna were sent to France for safety, but returning with French support to invade England in 1346, he was defeated at Neville's Cross and imprisoned for eleven years. Finally released for a ransom of 100,000 merks, he embarked upon a peaceful union with England and governed well. After Queen Joanna's death in 1362, he married the widowed Lady Margaret Logie, daughter of Sir Malcolm Drummond. Their match did not produce an heir and he divorced her six yeas later and died childless.

Scottish Monarchs Page 5

Scottish Kings and Queens - Robert II to Mary Queen of Scots.


House of Stewart (1371-1567)

1371-89 Robert II
THE son of Walter, sixth High Steward of Scotland, and Princess Marjorie Bruce, daughter of Robert I, King Robert II had shared in the Regency during his brother David II's exile, but was aged fifty five when he eventually ascended the Scottish throne. He married first, Elizabeth Mure of Rowallan, who had previously been his mistress, then, following her death, Euphemia, daughter of the Earl of Ross. Suspicions relating to the legitimacy of his first marriage would later cause serious disruptions among his descendants.

1390-1406 Robert III
THE eldest son of Robert II by Elizabeth Mure, there were those who claimed that his parents' first marriage was not legitimised, forcing them to have a second formal ceremony. He was baptised John, Earl of Carrick, but assumed the name of Robert when he ascended the throne. In 1367, he had married Annabella Drummond, daughter of Sir John Drummond of Stobhall. Ineffectual as an administrator, he increasingly allowed his brother Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany to assume control despite his having appointed his eldest son David, Duke of Rothesay, Lieutenant of the Kingdom. Rothesay and his uncle Albany had differing ideas as to how the country should be governed and in March 1402, David was found dead at Falkland Palace. The circumstances were suspicious and led his father to send his younger brother James initially to Direleton Castle for protection, then to France, whereupon the boat was intercepted by the English and James taken into custody.

When Robert was told of his son's capture, he sank into a deep depression and, it is said , died of grief. He was buried at Paisley Abbey, considering himself a failure as a king.

James I, Oil on panel, Unknown artist
James I, Oil on panel, Unknown artist
1406- 37 James I
JAMES I, the second son of Robert III, was sent to France at the age of twelve for safety, but was captured in-transit and held in England until 1424, twenty years after his father's death. Having married Joan Beaufort, a cousin of Henry VI of England, he was allowed to return to Scotland under the terms of the Treaty of London for a ransom of £40,000. He and Joan had eight children. Scotland in the meantime had been ruled by his uncle, Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, and Robert’s son, Murdoch Stewart, who became duke on his father's death. Four years after his return, however, James had Murdoch and two of his sons executed for conspiring against him. He then proved a strong ruler, but claims over his succession soon re-emerged from descendants of his grandfather's second marriage. In a conspiracy supported by one such claimant, Walter Stewart, Earl of Atholl, he was murdered by Sir Robert Graham in the Royal lodgings of Blackfriars in Perth.

1437-60 James II
BORN a twin at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, his marginally elder brother Alexander died young. James inherited the throne of Scotland at the age of seven, and in 1449 married Marie de Gueldres. They had seven children. From his birth he carried a facial discolourment which earned him the nickname “Fiery Face.” Because of this he chose to avoid ceremony or public occasions and concentrated on acquiring the military skills which were to stand him in good stead for the conflicts ahead of him.

For the first two years of his reign, the power in the land was exercised by his guardian, Archibald, fifth Earl of Douglas, a grandson of Robert III. However, after Douglas's death in 1438, William, Lord Crichton, Sir Alexander Livingston, and James “The Gross” Douglas, Earl of Buchan, took over control. Two years later, the young sixth Earl of Douglas and his younger brother were murdered, despite the ten-year old King's protests, at Edinburgh Castle at an event which became known as the “Black Dinner.” There is some uncertainty as to exactly why this should have taken place, but power politics were at play and, as a consequence, the powerful Douglas earldom passed to James The Gross, great-uncle of the murdered boys, There was no proof, but he was almost certainly implicated in the deed.

In 1452, the King discovered that William, eighth Earl of Douglas, son of James The Gross, whose vast estates stretched across the Scottish borders to Galloway, had made a pact with England and the Lord of the Isles. Douglas was summoned under safe conduct to Stirling Castle, but when the King challenged him to break his bond, he refused. In a fit of fury, the King stabbed him to death and tossed his body out of a window.

Although the action was vindicated by the Scottish parliament, there ensued a civil war led by the ninth Earl of Douglas and his two brothers. This culminated in 1455 with their being defeated at the Battle of Arkinholm in Dumfriesshire, and coincided with the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses in England. Although James had no intention of becoming embroiled in England's civil war, he allied himself to the House of Lancaster and used this as an excuse to reclaim Roxburgh Castle which had been held by English forces since the twelfth century. It was during the action that he was killed by an exploding cannon.

James III, St Andrew behind him, from the Trinity Altar Panels, Hugo van der Goes (d.1482). Oil on panel, 1478
James III, St Andrew behind him, from the Trinity Altar Panels, Hugo van der Goes (d.1482). Oil on panel, 1478
1460-88 James III
JAMES III was nine years old when his father died, and his mother Queen Marie immediately took over command of the siege of Roxburgh Castle, which fell within days. King James III of Scotland was crowned at Kelso Abbey shortly afterwards.

In 1467, the young King was seized by Lord Boyd of Kilmarnock, and his military tutor, Sir Alexander Boyd. The Boyds then arranged a marriage between James and Princess Margaret of Denmark, daughter of King Christian I of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Norwegian claims in Orkney and Shetland were pledged against the Princess's dowry, and when the agreed sum was not forthcoming, Scotland acquired the Northern Isles, which were formally annexed in 1472.

To strengthen his own position, Lord Boyd's son was betrothed to the King's sister, Princess Mary, but the eighteen year old monarch, remembering his father's example, had Sir Alexander Boyd executed, whereupon Lord Boyd and his son escaped into exile.

King James was a great patron of the arts, commissioning paintings, poetry, architecture, and the design of jewellery. Despite his marriage being by all appearances a happy one, he almost certainly had homosexual tendencies and formed intimate friendships with individuals whom his nobles considered highly inappropriate. His problems were further fuelled by the ambitions of his brothers, Alexander, Duke of Albany, and John, Earl of Mar. Both were arrested under suspicion of treason, and Mar died in prison. Albany, however, escaped to France, then England where Edward IV offered him his support in return for his recognition of the English king as Overlord.

An army under Edward's brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, marched on Scotland and took Berwick. James mobilised, but unwisely placed many of his low-born favourites in key positions, which infuriated a group of his nobles. As a result, Archibald, Earl of Angus (to be known thereafter as “Bell-the-Cat”) and a group of noblemen seized six of the King's closest advisers and hanged them from Lauder Bridge in front of James.

Following this, the Royal army retreated to Edinburgh, but when Albany arrived, having received word from the conspirators, he was advised to reconcile himself with his brother and send the English army home.

Unfortunately, James chose to ignore the lesson of Lauder Bridge and continued to promote his favourites, in particular John Ramsay of Balmain, whom he created Lord Bothwell. Once again such influence at Court was resented, and a powerful group of nobles seized the young Prince James in a plot to overthrow his father.

On 11th June, 1488, the King was confronted at Sauchieburn by an impressive army of Scots seemingly led by his son. The Royal army being overwhelmed, he was forced to flee from the battlefield. While escaping, his horse stumbled and he was thrown to the ground. Although rescued, he was shortly afterwards stabbed to death by persons unknown. His son, overcome with remorse and guilt, wore an iron link belt around his waist as penance for the remainder of his life.

1488-1513 James IV
THE sixteen year old James IV was immensely popular with his subjects and remained so throughout his life. Exercising power from the start of his twenty-five year reign, he led Scotland into a golden age by stabilizing the economy and suppressing upstart factions. He placed great emphasis on education and, as a result, studies of literature and medicine flourished. The King, himself, we are informed, spoke no less than eight languages, including Gaelic, and he combined his father's intellectual and artistic enthusiasms with a love of sport. Through shrewd management, Crown Revenues doubled and large sums were spent on armaments and the creation of a powerful fleet to police the Western Isles.

James travelled his realm extensively and a groundswell of affection was built up between King and many of his remoter subjects. In the meantime, Henry VII of England had offered him his daughter's hand in marriage. James had been intending to marry his mistress Margaret Drummond, daughter of John, Lord Drummond, but in 1502, Margaret and her two sisters were found to have been poisoned at Drummond Castle. Nobody was held responsible and James, in a state of shock, agreed to marry Princess Margaret Tudor, who became Queen of Scotland at the age of thirteen. Although it is said that neither party had much enthusiasm for the other, Margaret bore him six children.

However, despite having signed a Treaty of Perpetual Peace with England, James was determined to maintain the “Auld Alliance” with France. When Pope Julius II formed the Holy League with Ferdinand of Spain and England against France, James mustered a great army and in 1513 marched into England. The ensuing Battle of Flodden was a disaster for the Scots. Over a period of two hours, Scotland's finest army was decimated. King James IV himself lay dead among some 9,000 of his subjects. Among them was almost the entire ruling class of the land.

1513- 42 James V
ONCE again a child inherited the Throne of Scotland. James V was seventeen months old when he was crowned in the Chapel Royal, Stirling. His widowed mother was made Guardian under the terms of her husband's Will, but as the sister of Henry VIII of England, and openly recognising her brother as Overlord, it was to the King's cousin, John Stuart, Duke of Albany, hitherto exiled in France, that Scotland turned. Arriving in Scotland in 1515, his appointment coincided with the treaty signed between France and England, including Scotland. Albany then negotiated the Treaty of Rouen by which James V was lined up to marry a daughter of King Francis I of France. She died in 1537, and James then married Mary de Guise, daughter of Claude, Duke de Guise.

With these French alliances, it was inevitable that James should find himself at odds with his uncle Henry VIII, whom he refused to meet at York in 1536. Henry, meanwhile, had become entangled with the reformation of the Church of England relating to his marital divorces, and thus ostracising himself from the Church of Rome.

In 1539, Donald Gorm of Sleat led an uprising, seeking to claim the Lordship of the Isles, but died after an attack on Eilean Donan Castle. In his hour of victory, James made a tour of the Western Isles and having also visited Orkney, sailed down the coast to Dumbarton with a cargo of prisoners taken as hostages. He also annexed the Lordship of the Isles for the Crown.

Henry VIII had been pressurising his nephew to accept his religious reforms, or at least to remain neutral to them, but James refused and, in 1342, an English army invaded Scotland. Prior to the Battle of Solway Moss. James had been taken ill and heard of his army's defeat while convalescing at Lochmaben Castle. Bemoaning the fate of the House of Stewart before he died, his final words sound sourly prophetic: “The devil go with it. It came with a lass and it will go with a lass.”

The Scottish throne had come to the Stewarts through Marjorie Bruce, and he saw his six- day old daughter Princess Mary as the last of the line.

Mary, Queen of Scots, Oil on panel, Unknown artist, c.1610
Mary, Queen of Scots, Oil on panel, Unknown artist, c.1610
1542- 87 Mary (Queen of Scots)
THE Queen Dowager considered it vital that she strengthen the Auld Alliance with France and consolidate the forces of Catholicism against the rising tide of Protestantism sweeping Europe. She had expected the English army to press home its advantage after Flodden by invading Scotland, but the English king, of a superstitious nature, believed that he had been cursed on his nephew's death bed. By the Treaty of Greenwich, therefore, it was agreed that to ensure peace the child Queen of Scots should be betrothed to her cousin, Prince Edward of England.

However, a rising star in the land was the unscrupulous Cardinal Beaton of St Andrews who, collaborating with the Queen Dowager, arranged for the treaty to be discarded in favour of an alliance with the French Royal Family. A betrothal was therefore arranged with Francis, the Dauphin of France, son of Henry II of France and Queen Catherine de Medici.

England invaded Scotland in 1544 and 1545, laying waste the borders and Lothian. In 1546, Cardinal Beaton, a notorious prosecutor of the Protestant Reformers, was murdered at St Andrews with English support. In 1547, Henry VIII died, and in that same year the Duke of Somerset again invaded Scotland inflicting a major defeat on the Scots at the Battle of Pinkie. The six-year old Queen Mary was hastily taken for safekeeping to the island of Inchmahome in the Lake of Menteith, secondly to Dumbarton Castle, and then sent to France.

The French Court in which she was to spend the next thirteen years of her life was a playground of indulgence and intrigue given full licence by the glittering presence of Queen Catherine. After ten years of tutelage, Mary, aged fifteen, was married to the Dauphin, two years her junior. That same year, Princess Elizabeth of England succeeded her sister Queen Mary as Queen of England. With the dramatic turmoil of her later life, it is easy to forget that Mary Queen of Scots, as the wife of King Francis II of France, was, for one brief year (1559), also Queen of France.

Mary de Guise had died in 1559, so with the death of her first husband, Queen Mary decided to return to Scotland. It was to a very different country from the one the nineteen-year old Queen had left thirteen years before. The Reformation was under way, and Scotland was in the throes of a Protestant revolution. Advised by her half-brother, the Earl of Moray, she adopted a statesmanlike approach to the situation which won her respect, at least in the short term. Following her marriage to Henry, Lord Darnley in 1565, a son was born, but the Queen rapidly became estranged from her frivolous husband who was mysteriously murdered at Kirk O' Field in Edinburgh in 1567.

That same year, Queen Mary married James, Earl of Bothwell, but the Scottish nobility objected to the match, certain he had been instrumental in the murder of Darnley. In the ensuing unrest, Mary was taken prisoner and forced to abdicate while Bothwell fled abroad. Imprisoned at Loch Leven Castle, she escaped to rally her supporters only to be defeated at the Battle of Langside. She then fled to England where she remained in prison for the following nineteen years. Accused of conspiring to overthrow Elizabeth I of England, she was executed at Fotheringay in 1587.