Battle of Linlithgow Bridge, 1526


James V was little more than a year old when his father died at Flodden in 1513.  The following 12 years Scotland witnessed the turmoil of the regency of Albany and the political in fighting that left the kingdom at the mercy of the English and their followers north of the border.


 Those who held the king held the power and it was Archibald Douglas of the Red Douglases who aspired to be the kings guardian and in effect, his jailor. Margaret the Queen dowager fought a constant political battle to free her son, raising support among the nobles for armed forays


 Two such rescue attempts ended at Linlithgow. The Earl of Arran attempted the first in January 1526. He raised 5000 men and mustered them at the Peel but was obliged to disperse when the Queens party led by Earl of Moray was delayed in arriving and the Douglases advanced in force from Edinburgh with the King in attendance. Arran fled but Moray arriving too late to stop the rout declared for the King and promptly swapped sides.


 Eight months later the Queen dowager persuaded John Earl of Lennox, Earl of Glencairn and Cardinal Beaton to support her cause. This time Lennox raised an army over 10,000 and marched on Edinburgh. By this time Archibald Douglas had won over the Earls of Arran and Angus who were sent out to delay the march. Much to his credit Arran arrayed his followers at the strategically important Linlithgow Bridge. He must only had a small force composed mainly of the local Hamilton family) but Lennox seeing the defensive position had to rethink his plans


 Lennox looked to out flank and destroy Arran before Douglas and Moray could arrive from Edinburgh. Down stream proved impassable but up stream his scouts found a ford at Manuel Convent. Lennox forced the crossing and advanced on Arran’s flank. Arran saw the threat and arrayed his troops facing south along what is now Telford View. Lennox’s attack was across the Avon, over boggy ground and finally up hill, but he so nearly succeeded in dislodging Arran’s outnumbered men. However time ran out for Lennox as Douglas arrived with the much reluctant King. It is said the King dithered and made so many excuses that George Douglas, the King’s minder for that day declared ‘Before the enemy shall take thee from us, if thy body be torn to pieces , we shall have a part’


The lennox cairn

 Douglas’s line of advance must have been along Mains Road from the West Port passed the Rugby club and they would have ploughed into the flank of the hard pressed rebels. Many were killed either on the ridge on in the valley along the river. Glencairn was captured and Lennox surrendered to the Laird Of Pardovan, but in a wonton act of rage, James Hamilton of Finnart murdered Lennox. The location of this murder is commemorated with a cairn that now stands on the entrance to the Kettlestoun estate. (Strangely enough it appears to be marked ‘1528’)

This page was last updated on 12 October 2021

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