[Note 52 ManxSoc vol 22]


NOTE 52, p. 108.—Venit Haco, etc.

The special motives of King Hácon’s expedition are not mentioned in our Chronicle, and Fordun’s narrative of this event being very deficient, we shall give shortly the whole account, chiefly from the excellent Saga of King Hácon, especially as very wrong ideas of these affairs appear to be prevailing among the Scotch public, although Dillon, in his valuable treatise of the battle of Largs (in the Archæol. Scot. vol. ii.) has done very much to correct many errors. We might, indeed, acquiesce in what Dillon has done, if it were not that he too had been mistaken in some points. About the events in the islands between 1249 and 1261 the Saga is utterly silent, nor do we learn much from our Chronicle and the Scotch historians. Where the Saga resumes the narrative of the events in the Isles, the above mentioned Dugald (Dugald Mac Rory) is now generally spoken of as the sole king in his part of the Isles. He is characterised as being firm and unshaken in his fidelity to King Hacon ; we find, moreover, that one of his sons, named Eric, remained at King Hácon’s court, no doubt as a kind of hostage ; and this Eric continued to reside in Norway, even after the cession of the Isles to Scotland, as one of the principal barons of Norway. Eogan, although the connection between him and Norway does not seem to have been formally severed, or at least the hope of King Hácon not quite given up, that he might still be brought back to his allegiance, is nevertheless mentioned as a secondary person. We have seen that he had dropped the title of king in 1251 , perhaps he had then already sworn allegiance to the young King Alexander, although he did not resign his Norwegian fiefs till the arrival of King Hácon himself in 1263. When King Alexander became of age (1262) and even a short time before, he resumed the plan cherished by his father, of reuniting the Sudreys to the Scottish crown, and sent two envoys to Norway in 1261 ; an archdeacon and a knight named Missell,1 no doubt to negotiate for the cession of the Isles. The king, however, it is said, got to know that they used only fair words without sincerity ; being, perhaps, aware of his displeasure, they tried to steal secretly away, without asking for passports, contrary to all custom ; but they were stopped by express order of the king, who told them, that as a punishment they should stay in Norway the whole winter. King Alexander, on receiving news of this, was much exasperated ; he complained to his father-in-law, King Henry of England, who wrote to King Hácon about the 23d of March 1262,2 about the release of the envoys and other matters ; it is even hinted that the envoys were not treated decently, which, however, appears not to be true, as we find that Sir Missell was present at the coronation of King Magnus 3 on the 14th of September 1261, and seemingly in one of the best places in the church.4 The accusation was also formally denied in a letter from Hácon, in which he bade King Henry to understand that now he had permitted the envoys to return withour any hindrance, solemnly protesting that it had not been his intention to begin war with the King of Scots ; the receipt of which letter King Henry acknowledged in another, dated November 15, 1262, expressing his gratitude for the kindness shown by Hacon to the envoys, offering his mediation, and promising to exert his influence with the King of Scots in order to induce the latter to repair the damages which King Hácon or his subjects had suffered from himself or his men.5 Meanwhile, however, matters had changed ; in the summer of 1262 there came a letter from King Dugald announcing that Earl William of Ross, with other Scotch chieftains, had made an attack upon the Isle of Skye, and committed the most barbarous cruelties, burning churches and houses, killing men and women, and staking small children upon spears ; it was added that King Alexander meant to conquer all the Isles. It is therefore evident that the attack was made by his order ; we find, moreover, that hostages were taken from Skye, and kept in custody at the cost of the Crown.6 Hácon being now greatly alarmed, determined, after duly deliberating with his council, to go to war with Scotland, which indeed was unavoidable, the Scotch having already commenced hostilities. This, we expressly beg to remark, as Scotch historians, not aware of the real state of things, have taxed Hácon with duplicity for using so fair words when really making preparations for war.7 Fordun (x. ch. 16, 17), speaks with some uncertainty about a rumour that some of the Scotch magnates had written secretly to Hácon, promising to aid him against their king, if he came to Scotland ; how far this be true, must remain in doubt, because we want more accurate accounts thereof ; yet the party-spirit in Scotland in those times is so well known, that there would be no wonder if letters of the above description were really written. In the begin-ning of 1263 King Hácon issued orders for collecting the forces, which were to assemble at Bergen towards the commencement of the summer. Here the king, who had passed the winter at Throndheim, arrived on the 3d of May, and was shortly afterwards joined by his son King Magnus. The king, it is said, despatched two men, both, as it appears, natives of Scotland or the western countries, John (probably grandson, by a daughter, to Earl Harold in Orkney) and Henry Scott, to the Sudreys for the purpose of collecting good pilots for the fleet on its sailing through the intricate sounds and lochs of western Scotland perhaps they also had to summon Earl Magnus of Orkney to Norway, as we learn from the Saga that he indeed was present there during the summer, and sailed from Bergen with the fleet. Maybe King Hácon thought it rather unsafe to trust him in his double capacity of vassal to the crown of Norway as well as to that of Scotland, without exacting from him some extraordinary oaths and securities, especially as we find that King Alexander had forced the men of Caithness to give hostages, as he had those of Skye.8 Or perhaps Alexander had infested Magnus with war, and that Magnus fled to Hácon for protection. The two above mentioned messengers repaired to King Dugald and told him that the fleet would arrive. The Scotch, it is said, meant to attack the Isles even this summer, but Dugald now gave out the rumour that a Norwegian fleet of forty sail might be expected ; this news made the Scotch hesitate in beginning the attack.

When the forces were collected the king summoned them to a meeting, at which he narrated the outrages committed by the Scotch, and declared his intention to take revenge. The government at home he committed to his son Magnus, with two prudent and expert barons as councillors. Before leaving Bergen himself, he sent some barons with eight ships, as it appears, to the assistance of King Magnus of Man ; they were, however, detained by contrary winds, so that in reality they did not leave the coasts of Norway till after the main fleet, yet they made it up by sailing so much faster, and some of them did not see land till passing Souliskerry ; thence they made for Diurnes, where they landed, destroying a castle and burning twenty farms ; at last they joined King Magrius of Man. The king, meanwhile, had moved from Bergen to the neighbouring port of Eidsvaag, and from thence to the out-port of Herdluver, whence he sailed directly for Shetland, on the 15th of July.

Among the great men who followed him in the fleet was Earl Magnus of Orkney, as aforesaid, whom he presented with a good ship of war, a sign of the excellent understanding now existing between them, the two bishops, Thorgils of Stavanger and Gilbert of Hamer, formerly archdeacon of Shetland, the Abbot of Holm, etc. The number of ships forming the fleet is not precisely given in the Saga, which says only that, when complete, it exceeded 120 sail ; Fordun states the number of ships with which King Hácon appeared off Ayr to have been about 160, with a force of 20,000 men ; and this seems to be, on the whole, not far from the truth. That the reports of the armament, preceding the king’s arrival in the western seas, caused no little alarm in Scot-land and even in England, appears from a letter written by R. de Neville, to the royal chancellor of England, in order to get sufficient money for guarding the lands and castles assigned to his care north of Trent, especially Bamborough, as it was said, and believed to be true, that not only the Norwegian but also the Danish king, had arrived at the Isles with a large fleet, it not being ascertained whither they meant to repair.9

Of the preparations made by the King of Scots, the fragments of "Chamberlains Rolls," quoted by Dillon (Archæologia Scot. ii. 389-39 1) give ample evidences ; we see that the fortifications of Inverness; Ayr, Wigtoun, Stirling, and perhaps other castles, were repaired, and the garrisons increased, vessels built, etc. Especially the castle of Ayr, where the chief attack must have been expected, appears to have been the centre of the movements. Two chieftains, no doubt of the Somerled branch, Angus Mac Donald of Isla, and Murchard, were conipelled to yield their sons as hostages.10 In two days the greater part of the fleet reached Shetland, where the king remained in Bressa Sound for about a fortnight, probably waiting for those vessels which during the passage had been separated from the main fleet. About the 20th of July the king sailed to the Orkneys, and anchored in Elwick harbour, at Shapensey, opposite KirkwalL Here he held a council of war, declaring his plan of dividing the fleet in two parts, of which the smaller, chiefly consisting of yeomen or the militia troops, was directed to run into Moray firth and ravage the east coast of Scotland, while with the greater, under his own command, he intended to go at once to the Sudreys. This resolution, however, being announced to the men, the yeomen 11 declared that they would go nowhere except under the immediate command of the king, whose authority was not so great but that he felt obliged to yield. No division, therefore, took place.

Immediately after St. Olaf’s day (July 29), which was celebrated with great solemnity, the king moved from Elwick to Ronaldsvoe, where again he lay for about eleven days, despatching men to Caithness, there to exact a contribution from the inhabitants, threatening them with immediate attack and ravages if they did not comply. They obeyed; although, as we have seen, having beforehand given hostages to King Alexander in pledge of their fidelity. During the king’s stay at Ronaldsvoe, the Saga relates that an eclipse of the sun happened, only a small ring around the sun being bright. This is a strong proof of the accuracy and trustworthiness of the Saga, as it may be seen from the eclipse tables that an eclipse really happened on the 5th of August, and, according to special calculation, this eclipse appeared annular precisely at Ronaldsvoe.12 On St. Lawrence day (August 10) the king sailed from Ronaldsvoe, having ascertained that some ships not yet ready when he left Bergen, had arrived at the Sudreys. The Orkneyans, who were also to furnish ships and troops, had not yet completed their armament, but the earl was ordered to follow as soon as he had got ready. However, on the same day, the king doubled Cape Wrath, the next he went to Lewis, thence eastward of Skye to Rona and Raasay, and into the Sound of Skye, where he anchored near a little island called Kerlingarsteinn or Cailleach-stone.13 Here he was joined by the King of Man, and the barons who had been sent away beforehand. He then proceeded to the Sound of Mull, falling in with King Dugald, who came in a light craft, now acting as a pilot-boat, and requested the king to follow as fast as possible. In this manner the fleet was conducted to Kerrera, where the forces gathered in the Isles were already assembled, and joining the main fleet, brought the total number of ships to the amount already mentioned.

From Kerrara King Hflcon sent fifty ships under the command of King Dugald, King Magnus, and some Norwegian barons, to the Isthmus of Kentire, and fifteen ships to Bute, where the castle of Rothsay was held by a Scotch garrison ; while he went himself, with the rest of the fleet, round Kentire to Gigha. His object was evidently first of all to intimidate the above mentioned chieftains, Angus of Isla and Murchard, and this aim seems to have been easily effected. They offered their submission through the medium of King Dugald ; and notwithstanding their having previously given hostages to King Alexander sought audience of King Hácon, throwing themselves upon his mercy, swearing allegiance, and pledging their faith by giving hostages ; in return King Hácon promised to have them included in the treaty of peace, if such should be effected. Their possessions in Kentire were taxed to a con-tribution of 1200 cattle. Meanwhile, the frequently mentioned Eogan, who, it seems, although declaring for Alexander, had not yet formally resigned his Norwegian fiefs, appeared, perhaps summoned to do so, in the king’s presence. He went on board the ship of bishop Thorgils, no doubt to claim his protection, and bade the king release him from his allegiance, as well as to receive back the above mentioned fiefs, because he had now sworn oaths of fidelity to King Alexander. The king at first desired him to consider the matter, and retained him in the fleet for a while, without, however, shaking his purpose.14 The abbot of Sandal 15 applied personally to the king for a safe-conduct to his monastery, which was immediately granted. Shortly afterwards, when the Dominican friar, brother Simon, who had been employed by the king in several diplomatic missions, and had now even followed him on this expedition, happened to die while the fleet lay off Gigha, his body was interred in the church of Sandal, and the monks there believed him to be a saint. The Scotch knight who had the command of Donaverty castle,16 in Kentire, no doubt terrified at the progress of the king, and at the hostilities already commenced in his neighbour-hood, capitulated ; the king thereon appointed a Norwegian, Guthorm Bakkakolf, commander of the castle. Kentire being thus reduced, the king sent some light vessels to hasten the reduction of Rothsay castle, but that was now superfluous, the castle having already capitulated on the condition that the garrison should depart unmolested. This condition, however, was violated by one Rory, of whom our Saga relates that he had been outlawed by King Alexander, because he asserted the Island of Bute to be his patrimony, and failing to get this claim acknowledged by the Scotch king, had committed many hostilities in Scotland ; but that when King Hácon appeared in these parts, he had come to him with his two brothers for protection, and sworn him allegiance ; at the siege of Rothsay he had commanded a ship, and now, the garrison having departed according to the capitulation, he overtook it and killed nine men, alleging that he personally had not promised them anything.17 There can hardly be any doubt that this Rory, whose father and ancestors are not mentioned in the Saga, was a descendant of Somerled.18 From Bute, the Norwegians and Rory of their own accord, made inroads upon the mainland of Scotland, committing many ravages. The mouth of the Clyde now lay open to the Norwegian fleet. The wind, that for a time had prevented the king from leaving Gigha, now became favourable ; he sailed with the whole fleet round the Mull of Kentire to Arran, and anchored in Lamlash harbour, on the east side of Arran, opposite the main coast of Scotland.19 He passed, consequently, the town of Ayr, situated on this coast, where, it appears, as we have seen, the main attack had already been expected by the Scottish king. 20 To this sailing past, or no doubt quite close to, Ayr, Fordun alludes, narrating that " Rex Aco Norvegiae venit apud Novurn Castrum de Are cum piraticis navibus octies viginti, habentibus intra se viginti millia hoiminum belligerorum." 21 Fordun, we remark, does not say that he landed, only that he arrived off Ayr ; yet his words have been misinterpreted by Buchanan, who says expressly that Hácon landed at Ayr with 20,000 men. It is, however, an error, when Fordun gives the 1st of August (Petri ad vincula, Lammass) as the date of this arrival, which must rather have occurred a month later, as the king had not yet left the Orkneys on the day of the eclipse, which happened on the 5th of August.

When King Hácon appeared off Ayr, and anchored at Arran, King Alexander, who appears to have been present himself at Ayr or in the neighbourhood of the town with the greater part of his forces, now opened negotiations, sending several messages by Franciscan or Dominican friars, for the purpose of treating for peace. Nor did King Hacon show himself unwilling to negotiate, and proved this sufficiently by permitting Eogan of Argyle to depart in peace, loading him moreover with presents, on the condition that he should do his best to bring about a reconciliation ; Eogan pledging himself, if he did not succeed, to return to King Hácon.22 Perhaps it was due to the exertions of Eogan that a truce was concluded, in order to commence negotiations ill a more formal manner. King Hacon now despatched an embassy, consisting of the two bishops, Gilbert of Hamar and Henry of Orkney, with three barons, to Alexander, whom they found at Ayr ; 23 they were well received, but could not get any definite answer, Alexander alleging that before proposing the conditions he must consult with his councillors ; this done, he should not fail to let King Hácon know the result. The Norwegian messengers therefore returned to their king, who mean-while had removed to Bute ; 24 the next day, however, messengers arrived from King Alexander, bringing a list of those islands which he would not resign, viz. Arran, Bute and the Cumreys (that is, generally speaking, the islands inside Kentire), which implies that he now offered to renounce his claim to all the others. It is certainly not to be wondered at that he did not like to see those islands, which commanded the entrance to the Clyde, in the hands of another power. King Hácon, however, had prepared another list, containing the nanies of all those islands which he claimed for the crown of Norway ; and although the exact contents are not known, there can be no doubt that at least Arran and Bate were among the number. The Saga says that, on the whole, there was after all no great difference ; but that, nevertheless, no final reconciliation could be obtained, the Scotchmen trying only to protract the negotiations because the summer was past and the bad weather had begun. The Scotch messengers at last returned, and King Håcon removed with the fleet to the Cumreys, near Largs, in the district of Cuningharn, no doubt with a view either of being nearer at hand, if the negotiations failed, and a landing was to be effected, or only of intimidating his opponents and hastening the conclusion of the peace, as the roadstead in itself seems to have been far less safe than that of Lamlash or Bute. King Alexander sent indeed several messages, and it was agreed to hold a new congress a little farther up in the country, which shows that King Alexander now had removed from Ayr to a spot nearer Largs, perhaps to Camphill (on the road from Largs to Kilbirnie), where a local tradition states the king encamped.a The Norwegian messengers were, as before, some bishops and barons ; the Scotch commissaries were some knights and monks ; the deliberations were long, but still without any result ; at last, when the day was declining, a crowd of Scotchmen began to gather, and as it continued to increase, the Norwegians, not thinking themselves safe, returned without having obtained anything. The Norwegian warriors now demanded earnestly that the truce should be renounced, because their provisions had begun to be scarce, and they wanted to plunder. King Hacon accordingly sent one of his esquires, named Kolbein, to King Alexander, with the letter issued by this monarch, ordering him to claim back that given by himself, and thus declare the truce to be ended ; previously, however, proposing that both kings should meet at the head of their respective armies and try a personal conference before coming to extremities ; only if that failed, they might go to battle as the last expedient. King Alexander, however, did not declare his intention plainly, and Kolbein, tired of waiting, delivered up the letter, got that of King Hácon back, and thus rescinded the truce. He was escorted to the ships by two monks. Kolbein, when reporting to King Hácon his proceedings, told him that Eogan of Argyle had earnestly tried to dissuade King Alexander from fighting with the Norwegians ; it does not seem, however, that Eogan went back to Hácon, according to his promise. This monarch now was greatly exasperated, and desired the Scottish monks, when returning, to tell their king that he would very soon recommence the hostilities and try the issue of a battle.

Accordingly, King Hácon detached King Dugald, Alan Mac Rory his brother, Angus of Isla, Murchard of Kentire, and two Norwegian commanders,b with sixty ships, to sail into Loch Long, and ravage the circumjacent parts, while he prepared to land himself with the main force at Largs, and fight the Scotch army. The detachment does not appear to have met with any serious resistance, all the Scotch forces being probably collected near Largs. The banks of Loch Lomond and the whole of Lennox were ravaged ; Angus even ventured across the country to the other side, probably near Stirling, killing men and taking a great number of cattle. This done, the troops who had been on shore returned to the ships. Here, however, a terrible storm, which blew for two days (October 1 and 2), wrecked ten vessels, and one of the Norwegian captains was taken sick and died suddenly.a

Also the main fleet, off Largs, suffered greatly by the same tempest. It began in the night between Sunday (September 30) and Monday (October 1), accompanied by violent showers ; a large transport vessel drifted down on the bow of the royal ship, swept off the gallion, and got foul of the cable ; it was at last cast loose, and drifted towards the island ; but on the royal ship it had been necessary to remove the usual awnings or covers ; and in the morning (October 1) when the flood commenced the wind likewise turned, and the vessel, along with another vessel of transport and a ship of war, was driven on the main beach, where it stuck fast, the royal ship drifting down while with five anchors, and only stopped when the eighth had been let go. The king had found it safest to land in a boat on the Cumrey with the clergy, who celebrated mass, the greater part believing that the tempest had been raised by witchcraft. Soon the other ships began to drift ; several had to cut away the masts ; five drifted towards the shore, and three went aground. The men on board these ships were now dangerously situated, because the Scotch, who from their elevated põsition could see very well what passed in the fleet, sent down detachinents against them, while the storm prevented their comrades in the fleet from coming to their aid. They manned, however, the large vessel, which had first drifted on shore, and defended themselves as well as they could against the superior force of the enemy, who began shooting at them. Happily the storm abated a little, and the king was not only able to return on board his ships, but even send them some aid in boats ; the Scotch were put to flight, and the Norwegians were able to pass the night on shore. Yet in the dark some Scots found their way to the vessel and took what they could. In the morning (Tuesday, October 2), the king himself, with some barons and some troops went on shore in boats, to secure the valuable cargo of the transport, or what was left of it, in which they succeeded ; now, however, the main army of the Scots was seen approaching, and the king, who at first meant to remain on shore and head his troops himself, was prevailed upon by his men, who feared lest he should expose himself too much, to return on board his ship. The number of the Norwegians left on shore did not exceed 1000 men, 240 of whom, commanded by the baron Agmund Krokidans, occupied a hillock, the rest were stationed on the beach. The Scotch, it is related in the Saga, had about 600 horsemen in armour, several of whom had Spanish steeds, all covered with mail ; they had a great deal of infantry, well-armed, especially with bows and Lochaber axes.c The Norwegians believed that King Alexander himself was in the army ; perhaps this was true ; we learn, however, from Fordun, that the real commander was Alexander of Dundonald, the Stewart of Scotland.

The Scotch first attacked the knoll on which were the 240 men, who retired slowly, always facing the enemy and fighting ; but in retracing their steps downhill, as they could not avoid accelerating their movement as the impulse increased, those on the beach believed that they were routed, and a sudden panic betook them for a moment, which cost many lives, for as the boats were too much crowded they sank with. their load ; others, who did not reach the boats, fled in a southerly direction, and were pursued by the Scotch, who killed many of them others sought refuge in the aforesaid stranded vessel ; at last they rallied behind one of the stranded ships of war, and an obstinate battle began, the Norwegians, now that the panic was over, fighting des-perately. Then it was, that the young and valiant Piers of Curry,c of whom also Fordun and Wyntown speak, was killed by the Norwegian baron Andrew Nicholasson,d after having twice ridden through the Norwegian ranks. The storm for a while prevented King Hacon from aiding his men, and the Scotch, being tenfold stronger, began to get the upper hand ; but at last two barons succeeded in landing with fresh troops, when the Scotch were gradually driven back upon the knoll, and then put to flight towards the hills. This done, the Norwegians returned on board the ships. On the following morning (October 3) they returned on shore to carry away the bodies of the slain, which, it appears, they effected quite unmolested by the enemy ; all the bodies were carried to a church, no doubt in Bute,a and there buried. The next day (Thursday, October 4), the king removed his ship farther out under the island, and the same day the detachment arrived which had been sent to Loch Long. The following day (Friday, October 5), the weather being fair, the king again sent men on shore to burn the stranded ships, which likewise appears to have been effected without any hinderance from the enemy. On the same day he removed with the whole fleet to Lamlash harbour.1

We have not deemed it superfluous to give here at some length these particulars of the celebrated battle of Largs, extracted from the plain narrative of the Saga, with a view of removing at least some of the erroneous and almost ridiculous ideas which have prevailed, and still no doubt prevail, about it in Scotland and England. We do not intend, however, to waste many words upon the insane belief of so many amateur antiquarians, that the expedition of King Hacon was neither more nor less than a piratical excursion in the old pagan Viking-style that " the warlike " c King Hacon was " the last of the Vikings " ; and that his men, who fell in the battle, were buried as pagans, inasmuch as the cairns, cromlechs, and other sepulchral monuments from the pagan times discovered at Largs have been invariably believed to belong to those christian Norwegian warriors, who fought on 1st and 2d of October 1263 ; an error, the glaring enormity of which indeed even the most superficial knowledge of general history (not to speak of ecclesiastical history) might seem sufficient to expose, not to speak of the facts, specially recorded, that the king brought bishops and clergymen with him, and that all the bodies of the slain Norsemen were removed from the spot.a Yet apart from this almost unaccountable hallucinalion, there are still serious errors left. Firstly, the exaggerated description, given by Fordun,1’ of the ravages which the Norwegian fleet suffered from the storm had given rise to the belief that King Hácon lost thousands of his men, and that, indeed, his power was entirely broken. Now everybody accustomed to use historical records will perceive at the first glance, that the narrative of the whole affair, as given in the Saga, does not admit of any serious doubt ; the events being told minutely and candidly, without extenuating or exaggerating ; and that it has been evidently written after the relation of eye-witnesses or participators, which indeed, was very easy, as the author, Sturla Thordson from Iceland, finished the Saga two years afterwards.C There was no reason why it should not be stated, if more ships were lost than the six or seven here mentioned, or if more men were killed, than what we may calculate from the fact that at the highest estimation not more than ~ 1500 could have taken part in the fight from first to last, the greater part of whom seem even to have survived. Indeed, if the loss had been so great as Fordun intimates, the Saga would have bewailed it, according to its wont, in quite other strains ; and the movements of the king had been quite different.d

It is stated in the Saga° that when King Hacon was at anchor near Gigha, previous to his sailing round Kentire to Arran, there came a deputation to him from the Irish, offering him their allegiance if he would help them to throw off the English yoke ; and that he so far showed himself favourable to their wish that he sent a Sudreyan, named Sigurd, back with them to ascertain what inducements they might offer him. Now, during his stay in Lamlash harbour, after the battle, Sigurd returned from Ireland with the offer on the part of the Irish, that they would entertain his host the whole winter if he would come and help them. And, it is said, he was greatly inclined to do so, but the army was averse to it, and as the wind happened to fail, while provisions began to be scarce, he gave up the plan. Be could not, however, have entertained the idea for a single moment if he had really felt himself so weak, as must needs have been the case if the relation of Fordun were true. Moreover, we learn that the Scotch army did not prevent his men from removing their dead to the ships,1’ nor even, two days afterwards, burning the stranded vessels ; an ample proof that they had retired from the place ; a fact which, partly at least, must have been due to the valiant defence and real victory of the Norwegians partly, perhaps, to the circumstance that the news of the ravages committed by the other Norse detachment in Lennox, etc. , which could not have reached the king or the steward till then, no doubt induced them to send troops to those parts, or perhaps even to hasten thither with the whole army. Lastly, we learn that King Alexander did not retake a single island ; but that King Hacon, on his return, disposed of Arran, Bute, and even Donaverty, without any hinderance. The tempests, of course, prevented the Norwegians from effecting any thing niore than defending themselves, and repelling the hostile attack, no doubt with a comparatively serious loss ; and they certainly compelled Hacon to desist for that season from farther undertakings, which in itself was a disaster ; but so much is evident, that even if the ships had not been damaged and the battle had not taken place, the king would nevertheless have been obliged to retreat, as he did, and to put off active hostilities for the winter. It is therefore quite true, what the Melrose Chronicle quotes as his own words, " that he was driven back not by human force but by the immediate influence of God." a

When it had been determined that no expedition should be undertaken to Ireland for the time being, the king held a meeting with his men, and declared that he would return to the other islands, because provisions were scarce ; Cl he gave even some of the troops permission to return home to Norway, of which they were not slow to avail them-selves. He left Lamlash about the 9th, passed the first night under Arran, the second under Sandey, the third under Gigha, and came on the 12th to Isla Sound, where he passed two nights, levying a contribution from the islanders of 360 cattle, or their value, part of which was to be paid in meal and cheese. On Sunday, the 14th of October, he continued his course, but a violent tempest, accompanied by dense mists, forced him to seek shelter in the harbour of Kerrera. Here fresh negotiations passed between the king and Eogan, but without any effect ; Eogan did not even present himself ; and it was soon announced that his men had committed ravages in the Isle of Mull, and killed some men, natives as well as Norwegians. Now, then, Eogan had finally declared himself for King Alexander. King Hacon did not, it appears, attempt to take any revenge, nor is it likely that it had been possible then to do so.

From Kerrera the king sailed to the Calf of Mull, where King Dugald and his brother Alan Mac Rory took their leave ; the king in-vested them with the lands formerly held by Eogan ; moreover, he assigned to Dugald the castle of Donaverty in Kentire ; to Rory he gave Bute, and to Murchard Arran. These were certainly not the acts of a vanquished monarch, and the Saga adds justly, that in this expedition King Hacon had regained the territories which King Magnus Bare-foot had gained from Scotland and the Sudreys. The King of Man, with the other Sudreyans, had returned home before this time. After a stay of some few days the king left the Calf of Mull and proceeded to Rona, whence he took a northerly course, but was compelled by contrary winds to take shelter for several days in Westernfirth (Loch Snizort), in Skye, whose inhabitants therefore were forced to contribute provisions. At last he was able to continue his course, and passed Cape Wrath, but off Diurness he was becalmed (October 27), and entered a firth, called Gjdfjor~r, no doubt Loch Eribol, where seven of his men, who had gone on shore to fetch water, fell into an ambush and were killed. On Monday (October 29), he crossed the Pentland Firth to Ronaldsvoe, losing a ship in the Swelchie. When he arrived at the Orkneys he found that the greater part of the ships had returned home to Norway, many without leave. Be now determined to pass the winter at Orkney with twenty ships and all the barons, giving the rest leave to go home. Accordingly, he had the ships put on shore at Midland harbour and Scalpa in the mainland, and took his residence in the palace of Bishop Henry at Kirkwall. Here he was taken sick from over-exerting himself. We refrain from giving the interesting history of his sickness and death, as not touching the present matter suffice it to say that he died on the 15th of December, to the grief of all his subjects. In the following spring, as our Chronicle rightly says, his body was carried to Norway, and buried in the Cathedral of Bergen, named Christ Church, or Trinity Church.a

During his sickness King Hacon seems to have reflected seriously upon the expediency of continuing the war, and indeed to have come to the resolution that now, when the military glory of the nation was secured, an honourable and lasting peace was greatly to be preferred to a long and obstinate war. We learn, namely from the Saga, that early in the spring the barons and captains left by him in the Orkneys sent messengers to King Alexander " to look about them whether peace might be concluded." Fordun says that according to one tradition, Hacon before his death sent the letters which he had got from the malcontents in Scotland, to Alexander, with warnings against the traitors ; this, however, the author himself thinks improbable, inclining rather to believe another tradition, that after King Hacon’s death the Norwegians wrote to King Alexander a letter under the late king’s seal, in which they warned him against certain magnates, hoping that he would punish them, and thereby weaken his own power, although they were innocent, and the aspersion was without the least foundationf~ This version, however, seenis no more probable than the former ; yet it is not unlikely that the Mission by which this letter was sent was the same as is spoken of in the Saga, especially as it is told that the messengers, Bishop Henry of Orkney, and Ascatine the royal chancellor, were very badly received ; they were threatened, it is said, with death or imprisonment, and the Scots complained that the Norwegians had ravaged more than a third of Scotland. It is obvious that something more than the acts of open war must have taken place to exasperate the Scots so terribly ; yet this whole affair is obscure, nor is it likely that it will ever be sufficiently explained. The messengers returned, and Sir Askatine went soon afterwards to Norway, whither also Sir Agmund Krokidans and Eric Dugaldsson had already repaired with some of the troops, reporting to the king that the Scots were far from being inclined to peace ; whereon the king immediately sent Sir Agmund and Eric back to Orkney, the former to take the chief command of the forces in Orkney, the latter to proceed with three vessels to the Sudreys.

Meanwhile King Alexander prepared himself for the renewal of the war, and the cities, or some of them at least, furnished loans of money, which were spent not only in armaments, but also in bribes to several inhabitants of the Isles. The armament, it was said, was chiefly directed against King Magnus of Man, who, despairing of success while the Norwegian fleet was not at hand, sued for peace, and requested a safe-conduct that he might treat in person with King Alexander. The safe-conduct was granted, and King Alexander having repaired to Durnfries, Magnus met him there, and submitted entirely to him, declared himself to be his vassal, and tendered him the oath of allegiance, on condition that the Scottish king should protect him if the King of Norway sought to take revenge for this desertion ; he promised, more-over, to furnish ten ships of war to the service of King Alexander. This is the relation of Fordun, which seems to be very accurate ; according to our Saga,1’ the Scots really " went to Man and compelled King Magnus to oaths of submission ;" considering, however, the particular circumstances, the difference is very slight, and amounts almost to nothing ; from Dumfries to Man there is only a short distance, and if the Scottish fleet was assembled near Dumfries, which it certainly was, it is not unlikely that some of the ships should have shown them-selves off Man to intimidate Magnus. It is curious that this whole transaction should not be mentioned by a single word in our Chronicle.

King Alexander also sent a considerable number of forces, commanded by Earls William of Moray and Alexander of Buchan, as well as by Alan Durward, to reduce the other islands, and as there were none or few Norwegiaua troops to protect them, this enterprise was successful Angus of Isla, the Saga says, and many others who had followed King Hacon the last year, now submitted to the Scots. Fordun adds that " those traitors at whose request King Hacon had come to the Isles, were now killed in battle, expelled, or hanged." Only King Dugald, the Saga relates, kept so well aloof on his ships that they did not get hold of him. Lastly, King Alexander sent troops to Caithness, whose inhabitants were made to pay a heavy fine for having yielded to the necessity when King Hacon compelled them to give contributions. This movement caused Sir Agmund, who dreaded an attack upon Orkney, to keep back Eric Dugaldson for the whole winter, with the ships and troops intended for the Sudreys, which no doubt greatly accelerated the progress of the enemy there. The Orkneys, however, were not attacked, and when the Scots returned from Caithness, King Dugald attacked them, killed many of them, and took a great deal of goods. In the next spring (1265) he came to Orkney soliciting aid, when his son Eric accompanied him with three ships, according to the royal order.

Meanwhile King Magnus, hearing from the Chancellor how matters stood, ordered him to return immediately as ambassador to King Alex-ander, accompanied by two Franciscan friars, one of whom was brother Maurice, who afterwards was employed in other diplomatic transactions with Scotland.a They went to Scotland as soon as possible, and got access to the king ; they were also more friendly received than the former messengers, yet they did not get any other answer than this, that if King Magnus really wished for peace he ought to send " good messengers " 1’ to Scotland next summer. Yet we learn from the Icelandic annals, compared with the Chamberlains Rolls, that Alex-ander indeed sent two Franciscan friars to Norway in the year 1264," and it is very likely that these friars accompanied their Norwegian brethren, who arrived together with Sir Ascatine at Throndheim, where the king had passed Yule time, in the month of January 1265.

The king complied with the request of King Alexander, sufficient evidence of his eagerness for peace, and sent from Bergen, whither he had repaired after Easter time, bishop Gilbert of Bamar and Sir Ascatine,a both Scotchmen born, to Scotland, with full power to treat for peace on the conditions which had been rejected by King Hacon the previous year, viz. that the Scottish King should have the Isles in-side of Kentire, while all the rest should continue to belong to Norway. The ambassadors took their route through England, where they landed at Lynn, and thence proceeded to York. Here they remained for a while, no doubt prevented from getting farther by the war between the barons and Prince Edward.1’ At last they penetrated into Scotland, and came to King Alexander ; this monarch, however, who by that time must have pretty well completed the conquest of the Isles, treated their proposals with contempt, and insisted upon having all the islands.

The messengers now returned to Norway, yet King Alexander relaxed his obstinacy, in so far that he adopted a middle course, sending the eloquent Reginald of Roxburgh, monk in Melrose abbey, to Norway with the proposition to the king of selling Man and the Islands for a competent sum of money. This expedient had probably been concerted with the Norwegian ambassadors, who no doubt had likewise prepared their king for it, as it is related in the Meirose Chronicle, which here may be assumed as the most authentic record, that Reginald was honourably received, that King Magnus called his magnates together, to consult about the matter, and that he said quod multunt expediret pro pace servanda, ut venderentur insulce regi Scottorum," to which some of the magnates objected, but that at last the opinion of the king was agreed to. These transactions, however, must have taken rather a long time, as Reginald did not return till the next year.

The treaty, according to the Chronicle of Melrose, was already got up and agreed upon in Norway, and carried to Scotland by Chancellor Ascatine, who departed from Norway shortly after Reginald.~" This, however, can only have been the preliminary record, as we learn from the final document, of which copies are still preserved, that it was written in Scotland after the arrival of the Norwegian ambassadors, and that these were, as usually, two, Chancellor Ascatine and Sir Andrew Nicholasson, the same who killed Sir Piers Curry in the battle of Largs. Of course the main contents of the treaty were already agreed upon in Norway, and the final transaction in Scotland was a mere formality, to obtain the ratification, yet the definitive record, written in duplo, one to be sealed by the Scottish king, and sent to Norway, the other, vice versa, to be sealed by the Norwegian king (the Chancellor had no doubt already brought with him a sealed blank for this purpose) and delivered up to King Alexander, dated at Perth, on Friday after the day of St. Peter and Paul, or July 2d, 1266.1’ As it has been often printed, we do not deem it necessary to give it here at length, referring those who want to peruse it from beginning to end, to Acts of Parliasnents of Scotland, vol. i. p. 78, 10 1 ; Torfæi, Orcades, p. 198 ; his Historia Norwegiæ, iv. p. 343 ; Peterkin’s Rentals of Orkney ; John-stone’s Antiq. Celto-Normannicce, p. 52, etc. It is sufficient to say that King Magnus ceded to King Alexander the Isle of Man and all the Sudreys, but not the Orkneys and Shetland, which were expressly excepted, without depriving the Norwegian archbishop of his ecclesiastical jurisdiction and metropolitan rights over Man and the Isles; Alexander promising in return that the crown of Scotland should per-petually pay to the crown of Norway, annually, 100 marks sterling, in the cathedral of Kirkwall, not later than the 1st of July ; and, besides, a sum of 4000 marks sterling, by four instalments of a thousand each, in the years 1267, 1268, 1269, 1270, at the time and place aforesaid finally, that a fine of 10,000 marks sterling was to be paid by the party who violated or did not fulfil the treaty to the other ; both submitting to the jurisdiction and ecclesiastical punishment of the apostolic See.a

Immediately after the conclusion of this treaty the Norwegian ambassadors, it appears, returned home, as we learn from the Icelandic annals that King Magnus published the treaty at a public meeting in the Christ-Churchyard in Bergen, on the day of St. Lawrence (August 10) the same year. In the inventory of the public records existing in the treasury of Edinburgh Castle, AD. 1282, published in the Acts of Parliasnent of Scotland, p. i. preface, p. 3, we find among " negotia tangentia Norwagia-im " 1’ not only " Compositio inter reges Scotia et Norwagice super insulis, duplicata," i.e., the treaty itself, with a copy, but also " Confessio procuratorurrt missorurn a rege Norwagiœ pro dicta compositione facienda," and farther " mandatunr regis Norwagice guod insulœ faciant homaginim segi Scotice et ei intendant ut domino," C it appears, then, that King Magnus of Norway, as usual in such cases, had issued a document, in which he released his Sudreyan subjects from their allegiance, and transferred it to the King of Scots ; no doubt the ambassadors brought this letter with them fully prepared under his seals.

~Then the treaty was concluded, King Magnus of Man was already dead, as we see from our Chronicle," yet King Alexander did not come into possession of Man—if, indeed, he ever did—without difficulties. According to Fordun, who, however, wrongly assigns the death of King Magnus to A.D. 1267, King Alexander in this year collected an army against the " rebels " of Man, with the intention of establishing his camp there ; yet he altered this plan, and sent only some of his troops, with the Galwegians.a The result is not mentioned ; but there can be no doubt that we have it somehow given in the titles of two letters, mentioned in the aforesaid inventory, viz., a letter to King Alexander from the " Majores " of Man, no doubt a limited and conditional sub-mission, and an obligation of Alexander to the bishop of Man " quad non iret super Manniam ad tempus," 1’ evidently the condition on which the Mann magnates agreed to acknowledge him for their liege lord.

King Alexander probably now exacted oaths of allegiance from the Sudreyans in general, and especially from those magnates who had not yet submitted to him. Among the last to do so, it appears, was Angus of Isla ; because, from the same inventory, we learn that the barons of Argyll pledged themselves, under the loss of their hereditary doniains, to aid the king faithfully against Angus if he did not obey the king’s commands, and that Angus was compelled to issue an obligation, tendering forfeiture of his patrimonial domains, if he failed in his duty towards the king. Afterwards, however, we find himamong the magnates of Scotland at the Parliament of Scone, 1283 (Acts of Parl. i. p. 82). His descendants, the Mac Donalds, were likewise a powerful clan. Whether King Dugald Mac Rory did homage to King Alexander is not known ; from the Icelandic annals we learn that he died in 1268, and it is very likely that he passed these last two years after the cession in Norway, since his death is noticed by the Icelandic annalist, and since his son, Sir Eric Dugaldson, continued to live in Norway as a baron, till his death in 1287.c The brother of Dugald, however, Alan Mac Rory, submitted to the King of Scots ; he appears as Alanus films Roderici among the barons of the Parliament of Scone, l283.d

After the conclusion of this treaty the Norwegian dominion over Man and the Isles ceased entirely, and no formal attempt was made to gain it back, although it would seem that the wish was not entirely given up, especially by the son and successor of King Magnus, Eric, who possibly married the daughter of Alexander chiefly for this purpose.n Yet we learn from our Chronicle, as well as from Fordun, and the title of the above mentioned documents, that the dominion of Alexander in the Isle of Man must have been rather loose and much disputed by the natives themselves. Indeed, the island seems never to have been for-mally united with Scotland, but only to have been held by Alexander and his successors as a personal possession, which afterwards facilitated its transference to the Crown of England. Of this, however, it is superfluous and beyond our scope to treat here. We learn from the Chronicle of Lanercost, although, by a singular mistake, it mentions the cession of Man during AD. 1256, while the battle of Largs is spoken of during AD. 1266, that King Alexander really, for a time at least, had bailiffs or lieutenants in Man. The article being curious, and somehow a supplement to our Chronicle, we give it here at length : Eodem ammo ( 1256), adhuc Ywaro (the assassin of Reginald ; here, however, King Magnus is evidently meant) Mammiamm gubernante, translatum est regnusm Mannice et Insularum ad Alexandrusm regent, fihium Alexandri regis Scotorum, ex consensu et bona voluntate Magni regis Norwegice flu Haconis, conventione tamen de annuali censu reddendo regi Norvegice et heredibus suis. Rex autem constituit ballivos suos in Mannia, quorum prisnus fuit Godredus Mac Mares,b post hunc Alan’us flius Comitis, post hunc Mauricius Okarefair, post hum Reginaldus capellanus domini regis. a

That Magnus of Man was married to a daughter of Eogan of Argyle, and that she afterwards married Malise, Earl of Stratherne, has been already mentioned. We can hardly think this connection with Eogan to have been without influence upon Magnus in hastening his subanission to King Alexander in 1264, as also, perhaps, in making his fidelity to King Hacon, rather shaky already in 1263, when Eogan had declared himself peremptorily for Alexander.


1 [Robertson conjectures that Missell is an error for Frisel, an ancient form of the name of Fraser ; ii. 83.]

2 Rymer, i. p. 389. [See Appendix, No. 24.]

3 [He was highly edified at some of the ceremonies on that occasion, exclaiming, " They told me there were no knights created in this northern land, but never saw I knight dubbed with greater solemnity. "—Robertson, ii. 83.]

4 Hak. H. Saga, ch. 309.

5 Rymer, i. p. 422. [See Appendix, No. 25.] 

6 Fragm. of Chamberlains Rolls, in Archæol. Scot. ii. 363.

7 Lord Hailes, Annals, i. 212. Even if Hácon had acted with duplicity, which was not the case, he might justify himself sufficiently with the fact that King Alexander had begun hostilities, and tampered with the king’s vassals while still negotiating.

8 Fragm. of Cliamberl. Rolls, 1. c.

9 Rymer, i. p. 429. [See Appendix, 26.]

10 Fragment of Chamberl. Rolls, 1. c. [Angus, the son of Donald M’Reginald, was a cousin of Dugald, and the head of the youngest branch of the family of Argyll and the Isles. Seven years before this expedition he had been forced by the regents, during Alexander’s minority, to ackuowledge that he held his fiefs of the Scottish crown, though he had in vain sought an asylum in Ireland to prevent the necessity of such an admission—Robertson, ii. 87.]

11 [Robertson calls them bonders.]

12 See Archaeol. Scot. ii. p. 363-64.

13 Kerlingr, in Lowlands Carline (vetula) is the same as Cailleach in Gaelic, so the place has not changed its name. It seems to be a common belief in the west of Scotland that Kyle Háken, between Skye and Lochalsh, has got its name from King Hicon having anchored there. Nothing can be more absurd. This name, as no doubt most of the other local names, was certainly many centuries older than King Hácon. It is, moreover, very probable, that the greater part of the rude inhabitants did not even know his name.

14 Hák. Hdk. Saga, oh. 320.

15 Ibid. The Saga does not mention the name of the monastery, but speaks only of an " abbot of a grey-monk’s cloister ; " thus, however, the Cistercians were styled, and the monastery of Sandal in Kentire is the only Cistercian monastery of which there could be question. [Robertson writes it Saddel, ii. 87.]

16 Even this castle is not expressly named, hut only styled ‘ ‘ a castle in the south of Kentire. "

17 Hak. Hdk. Saga, ch. 321.

18 [Rory or Roderic was probably a descendant of one of the earlier lords of Bate—Robertson, ii. 88.]

19 Lamlash is called Melasey in the Saga, Molassa by Buchanan ; it has got its name from the hermit St. Macliosa (servant of Jesus) or Malise, otherwise Molios, to whose cave pilgrimages were made and votive gifts offered.

20 We learn even that King Alexander had taken quarters in Ayr, when négotiations were opened, shortly after the arrival of King Hácon to Arran.

21 Fordun, ii. 15. [King Hdco of Yorway came to New Town Ayr with a pirate fleet of 160 sh(ps, having on board 20,000 fighting men.]

22 [Robertson says that Ewen had refused to swerve from his allegiance to Alexander, but he offered, as he had done on a similar occasion, fourteen years before, to resign the flefs which he held of the Norwegian crown. When Hdaco found that he could not shake his resolution he dismissed him honourably, and with many marks of favour. Twice, in situations of difficulty, had the Lord of Argyll proved his good faith and honour, in an age in which the obligationš of an oath were hut too often lightly esteemed ; ii. 86.]

23 In the Saga, which alone records these facts, the town where the messengers found King Alexander is called Noar, which evidently is a corruption of New Ayr (New-town of Ayr).

24 There can be no doubt that during the stay in Lamlash harbour, either this time or when the fleet returned thither in October, many devout Norwegians made visits to St. Maclios’ Cave, and it is very likely that it is one of these visitors who has left a short runic inscription, still to be seen, and first discovered and published by Dr. Wilson in his Archceology of Scotland ;—viz. Nikulos a Hæne mist, i. e., Nicholas on Hæn engraved (soil. the runes) ; Hæn seems to be the Norwegian estate of this name in the Raumsdal, and the runes have exactly the character peculiar to those used in Norway in the thirteenth century.

25 See Dillon, Archaeol. Scot. 1. c.

26 [Robertson, citing the Saga of Háco, adds to their number Magnus of Mais ii. 90, a.]

27 Hák. Hale. Saga, ch. 323.

28 This weapon is called sparða in the Saga, i. e. , the Irish sparthe, which, indeed, seems to have been nothing more than a Lochaber axe, or at least very like it ; from the Orkney Saga and Olafs S. helga, ch. 94, we learn, that it was a kind of axe on a long shaft with a hook. A weapon of this kind in the hands of the Scotch from Ayrshire and the Highlands must have been a Lochaber axe.

29 [Burton (ii. 107) says that none of the crown vaesals were mustered, and that none of the great feudatories of the crown were there, nor any commander of note, but that it was simply a miscellaneous gathering of the peasantry that hastily assembled to resist the incursion. Robertson (ii. 91,) says that the infantry, who were destined to bear the brunt of the conflict, were merely the peasantry of the neighbouring districts, hastily brought together by the blaze of the beacon fires, and mostly armed with spears or bows, the whole force being under the command of the Steward of Scotland, though the Norse chronicler has erroneously supposed that Alexander was present in person. ]

30 [Sir Piers Currie.] .

31[Aiming at the thigh, he dave, with a single blow, through bone and armour, and buried his sword in the saddle. ]

32 [Reginald and Olave.]

33 It is afterwards related that the body of Ivar Holm, the captain who died suddenly on the expedition of the Loch Long squadron, was carried to Bute and buried there, when this squadron returned ; hence we may guess that the other bodies were also buried on the same spot.

34 Hak. Hak. Saga, ch. 323-326.

35 Thus he is styled by Lord Hailes, and we believe even by Sir Walter Scott in his History of Scotland. Hácon, however, although in his younger days he was compelled to some fighting, was by no means a warlike monarch, his merits (and he is indisputably the best king Norway ever had) consisted chiefly in pursuits of peace,— as legislative improvements, founding of cities, promoting of useful knowledge, of trade, etc.

36 We quote here the words of Dr. Wilson in his Archæology, p. 325, " A reference to the old and new Statistical Accounts of the various parishes, along both the Ayrshire and Argyleshire coasts, will suffice to shew that the battle of King Hhco has proved as infallible a source of explanation for the discovery of cists, tumuli, cairns, and sepulchral relics of every kind, as if it were a well authenticated fact that no one had died, from the days of Noah to our own, but at the battle of Largs. " Sir Walter Scott is seen to have participated in the same error, when writing his Marmion (Canto iii, note 4), where the pagan relics found at Largs are attributed to the slain subjects of King Hacon.

37 That the bodies were removed is also expressly stated in the Melrose Chronicle, which, indeed, although making too much of the reverses suffered by the Norwegians in the battle, or rather omitting the fact that the Scotch were finally driven back, does in the whole not diverge more from the narrative of the Saga than the difference of information and national feeling may account for ; we give it here : Anno domini 1263 (the old edition has erroneously 1262) Haco Rex Norwagiae cum copiosa navium multitudine venit per mare occidentale ad debellanduim regens Scotiae, sed re vera, ut ipse H. affirinabat, non eum repulit vis humana sed virtus divina, qua naves eius confregit et in exercitune suune snortalitcetens imneisit ; insuper et eos qui tertia die post solle~nnitate,n Sti. Michaelis ad proelianduns convenerant, per pedissequos patrice debellavit atcjue prostravit, qzeapropter coacti sunt cues vulneratis et snortuis suis naves suas repetere, et sic turpius quaim venerant repat~-iare. [In 1263, Haco, King of Norway, came from, the west with a numerous fleet to wage war with the King of Scotland ; but in truth, as Haco himself was wont to say, he was defeated not by human arms, but by the divine power, which disabled his vessels and crushed his army, routing and overthrowing, by means of the followers of their country, those who had mustered on the third day after the feast of St. Michael for the purpose of battle, and forcing them to make for their ships with their wounded and dead, and so to return home more disgracefully than they had come.]

38 Fordun, x. 10.

39 Hak. Hak. Saga, ch. 275.

40 [Robertson calls it a skirmish, not a battle ; and he says that as the action was indecisive so were its results unimportant, for it would be erroneous to ascribe the failure of the expedition to the repulse of a few hundred shipwrecked Norwegians by the half-armed peasantry of the neighbourhood. Seven Norwegians of distinction were slain, while only one man of note fell upon the side of the Scots ; ii. 94. ]

41 Hak. Hák. Saga, ch. 322.

42 Dillon, in his treatise, taking it for granted that the Norwegians were discomfited, and that the Scots were masters of the field, cannot, of course, reasonably explain how the Norwegians were able to remove their dead, without supposing that a truce or convention for burying the slain had been concluded. Afterwards, he wonders, without being able to give any explanation, how they were allowed to destroy the ships. These facts, however, explain themselves sufficiently from the narrative in the Saga, without in the least calling for any necessity of supposing a convention to have been made. The fact was, simply, that the Scots had retired, and entirely left the field to the Norwegians. By a miscalculation, Dillon believes the day when the stranded ships were destroyed to be the 12th, instead of the 5th, of October : this indeed, must make the impunity with which the destruction was effected, seem still more unaccountable. The miscalculation arises from the Icelandic denomination of Thursday "fintidagr " (fifth day, feria quinta), which has caused many similar mistakes. The 3d of October was a Wednesday : on Thursday (October 4), says the Saga, the king removed Isis ship farther out under the island ; " fintadagiun," is here erroneously construed to be the fifth day after the 3d of October, i. e. , the 8th of October and when the Saga continues, " on Friday, the weather being fair, the king sent men to burn the stranded ships," this Friday is consequently believed to be the Friday after the 8th of October, i. e. , 12th. Afterwards, the Saga itself says that on Sunday, the 14th of October (the first in the winter), the king left Isla Sound, after a stay there of two nights ; having previously stopped one night (the 11th) at Gigha, one (the 10th) at Sandey, one (the 9th) under Arran, and " some nights" near Lamlash. Although, as we have demonstrated, the Scotch cannot have been near when the Norwegians removed the slain, and there was therefore nothing toprevent them from burying them near the church of Largs, still we cannot agree with Mr. Dillon in the supposition that they did bury them there, as it is expressly stated that the bodies were sent for from the fleet, and consequently taken on hoard the ships, to be buried elsewhere ; no doubt, as we have mentioned, in the Island of Bute. [In the Times of December 26, 1873, there is a letter from John S. Phene, F. S. A., dated from Skelmorlie, on the Clyde, near Largs, stating the results of an excavation he had just concluded, " which may fairly," he adds, " set at rest all question as to the whereabouts of the remains of the fallen invaders in the battle of Largs ; which has often been erroneously assigned to the much more ancient, indeed prehistoric, cairns, kists, and interments of the surrounding locality." This conclusion he forms from a comparison of the locality of the mound he excavated, and the details of the examination, with the accounts left by the older writers of the circumstances of the interment, and with the description given by Warsaæ of the two mounds on the mainland, opposite the north point of Cumbrae, which that Danish antiquarian considers to be the most remarkable in Scotland, in one of which the Scots, and in the other the Norsemen, were buried after the battle.]

43 [Robertson says that as the Scots were enabled to carry off all their dead without molestation, either their victory must have been far more complete than the Norsemen chose to admit, or their loss must have been comparatively trivial ii. 94.]

44 The Chronicle of Melrose speaks also of "mortality " (meaning no doubt diseases) among the troops ; very likely it may be right.

45 Hak. Hák. Saga, ch. 326-330. We may add, however, for the benefit of those who speak of the " warlike " King Hácon as of a Viking of the old fashion, whose men were buried under cairns and cromlechs, or in true pagan style, that during his sickness he had the Bible and some legends read to him in Latin, until he found it too troublesome to follow the Latin text ; then the Sagas of his ancestors were read in his own tongue. [But mortification, anxiety, and want of rest had done their work, and a mortal sickness seized upon the aged king, who had now filled the throne of Norway for the lengthened period of fifty-six years. Occasionally he rallied, arranging the affairs of his kingdom during the intervals of his disorder, and declaring Prince Magnus to be his only son and successor. To soothe the sleepless moments of the dying monarch the lives of the saints and the chronicles of the Kings of Norway were read by the side of his couch, but of all the accounts of the exploits of his predecessors, he best loved to listen to the deeds of his own grandfather, Sverre, the great leader of the Birkbeiner. At length he became speechless, and on the 15th of December (to use the simple language of the Norse writer)—" At midnight Almighty God called King Hdaco out of this mortal life." For three months the body lay in the church of St. Magnus, at Kirkwall, and as the winter passed away the sorrowing nobles bore the royal corpse to Norway, where, in obedience to the latest wishes of the dying king, his remains were deposited amidst the ashes of his predecessors in the Cathedral Church at Bergen. —Robertson, ii. 95.]

46 Fordun, x. 16 ; also Wyntown, vii. x. 215-234.

47 Saga of King Magnus, fragm. ch. 4.

48 Chiefly the marriage-treaty of Roxburgh and Berwick 1281.—Acts of Parl. of Scotland, i.

49 One of those " good messengers " being, as we see, Chancellor Ascatine, who had been so badly received when he went for the first time with Bishop Henry of Orkney, we must infer that King Alexander had particular objections to the latter.

50 The Icelandic Annals say that Alexander sent two Franciscan friars to Norway in 1264 ; in the Chamberlains Rolls the expenses of friars Malise and Alexander of Berwick, " who went beyond the sea on the king’s errand,’ ‘ are calculated at 37 sh. 1 d.—Archaeol. Scot. ii. p. 39.

51 Saga of King Magnus, ch. 4. Fordun, x. 19. The edition by Hearne has here, rightly, "Rex Magnus misit Gilbertum episcopum de Hamar et suum Cancellarium," [King Magnus sent Gilbert, Bishop of Hamar and his Chancellor:] which in the Goodall edition is wrongly given, " R. M misit suum Cancellarium dominum Gilbertum episcopum de Hamer, ‘ ‘ [King Magnus sent his Chancellor the lord Gilbert, bishop of Hamar,] as if both were one person.

52 In the Saga it is expressly said " they went first to England, to Lynn ; at that time a great strife broke out in England, and Simon of Montfort was killed the bishop and the chancellor then went to York, where they remained for a while."

53 [It would greatly conduce to the preservation of peace if the Islands were sold to the King of Scots.]

54 Here the learned editor of the Bannatyne edition of the Chronica de Mailros has made a curious mistake. At the name of " Reginaldus de Roxburgh," he adds the following note :— " The Norwegian account of this expedition, published by Johnstone, says simply, p. 15, that an archdeacon (erkidjakn einn) was sent from Alexander, and gives a different colouring to the whole transaction. " Now, these words about the archdeacon belong to the 367 chapter of King Hácon’s Saga, where the embassy sent from King Alexander to King Hácon in 1261 is spoken of. The transactions between Alexander and Magnus in 1265-66 have no doubt been related in the Saga of King Magnus, of which fragments only are left, and the part in question is wanting.

55 [See Appendix, No. 27.]

56 The words in which the Melrose Chronicle gives the contents of this treaty are rather remarkable : " cuius conipositionis haec est sunnna annua, scilicet quod rex Scotia onini anno in perpetuum dabit regi Norwagiæ centum libras sterlingorum pro cognitione homagii facti regi Norwagiae a dicto Alexandro rege Scotiae, gui ad majorem securitatem prae snanibus pacavit regi Norwagice 4000 marcarum.

[ The annual amount under this agreement is that the King of Scotland shall pay for ever unto the King of Norway, each year, the suns of £100 sterling in recognition of homage done to the King of Norway by the said Alexander, King of Scotland, who for greater security paid into the hands of the Norwegian king the sum of 4000 marks.]

57 [Matters touching Norway.]

58 [An agreement between the Kings of Scotland and Norway, concerning the Isles, in duplicate.]

[ Declaration of the procurators sent by the King of Norway to arrange the said agreement.]

[Command of the King of Norway that the Isles do homage to the King of Scotland, and comport themselves towards him as their lord.]

59 Among these negotia tang. Norwagiam also three other records, touching the Isles, are named, but which probably belong to the twelfth century, viz ., a royal donation to Russin abbey, a royal letter about Bute and other islands, granted to the King of Man, and another royal letter about the islands Juist and Egyn (Eigg). [See a schedule of documents in Dr. Oliver’s Mon. ii. 102.]

60 In the Icelandic annals the decease of Magnus is wrongly referred to A.D. 1266, and by Fordun to 1267.

61 [Robertson says that in 1268 Alexander collected an army in Galloway with the intention of again reducing the islanders who appear to have shaken off his authority for a short time ; but that the continued prevalence of tempestuous weather prevented the projected invasion ; ii. 103.]

62 [That he should not go to Man for a time.]

63 It is worth while to observe that in the Saga of King Magnus, written about 1270, Dugald is no more styled king, but only Lord Dugald. The title had evidently been antiquated, or dropped.

64 [In a fragment, from Torfæus of a Chronicle, given by Johnstone, Antiq. Celt. -Norm., p. 55, the treaty is related to have been resumed in 1312, by Haco and Robert at Inverness. If this statement be correct, it would scarcely be probable that the arrangement was as effective as it is represented to have been in the following lines of the note. See Oliver’s Mon. iii. 217, n, 1. In 1426 James I. of Scotland concluded a treaty with Eric, King of Denmark, 1. c. p. 218, in which were renewed the ancient alliances entered into between Alexander III. , Robert I., and the princes who in their day occupied the Northern throne. James also con-sented to continue the annual payment of 100 marks for the sovereignty of the little kingdom of Man and the Western Isles, which Alexander III. had purchased in 1266, for the sum of 4000 marks.]

65 In the marriage-treaty of Roxburgh and Berwick, AD. 1281, King Alexander pledged the Isle of Man as security for the payment of the fine (£100,000 st.) in case of his not fulfilling the stipulations. [See the treaty or covenant of marriage between Eric, King of Norway, and Margaret, daughter of Alexander, King of Scots, in Dr. Oliver’s Mon. ii. 96.]

66 [Robertson supposes Mac Mara to be a lineal descendant of the Mac Mara who led the Southern Manxmen to their desperate contest with Jarl Other, and the Northerns at Sandwath, in the days of Magnus Barefoot. He thinks that he represented the Gaelic element as opposed to the Scoto-Norwegian, for the antagonism between them no doubt extended from the north and west of Scotland to Man. Man remained in the king’s hands, administered by his bailiffs or thanes, till Robert I. gave it to Thomas Randolph . The Nordreys, which had continued under the Kings of Man, after Somerled had acquired the Sudreys, fell to the Earl of Ross ; ii. 104.]

67 [In the same year (1256), whilist Ivar still ruled over Man, the kingdom of Man and the Isles was given up to King Alexander, son of Alexander, King of the Scots, with the consent and goodwill of Magnus, King of Norway, on condition, however, of an annual payment to the King of Norway, and his heirs. The king, moreover, appointed his bailiffs in Man, the first of whom was Godred Mac Mara, then Alan, the son of the Count, after him Maurice Olcarefair, after himim Reginald, chaplain of the king.]



Back index next

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001