Margaret, The Fair Maid of Galloway


Mons Meg

Next comes the King’s Bastion, wherefrom there is the view and whereon is no less a person than Mons Meg, that centuries-old fetish of the Scots folk, that idol of the Scots school-boy. "Munsch Meg" (to give phonetically the popular pronunciation) would not claim your particular notice, for ‘tis but an old, uncouth mass of metal, were it not for its history. That is lost in antiquity. Once ‘twas believed that Meg was a Flemish lass, and Mons recalled her place of birth. (To this effect runs the inscription on the metal.) Others said that it was made by command of James II. for the siege of Threave Castle, the last stronghold of the Douglas, and that it was cast by a local artisan, one M’Kim of Mollance. Meg was the name of his good lady, and it was his humour to trace a likeness between the voice, which you augur was neither soft nor low, of his wife Meg, and the thunder of the gun, and there you have the name a little contracted. The huge piece was dragged into position, a peck of powder and a granite ball, vaguely described as "the weight of a Carsphairn cow," were rammed in, the match was applied, and off went Meg with a roar which shook the firmament. Margaret, the Fair Maid of Galloway, was raising with beringed band a cup of wine to her lips, when lo! enter the cannon ball and off goes the hand, ring and all! Meg roared once again and the castle surrendered at discretion. Local tradition pointed out the spot where Meg was cast. The two bullets were found and accounted for, nay, the very ring, with Margaret’s name on it, turned up in due course, and who could doubt the story after that?


The present tower was built by Archibald the Grim, 3rd Earl of Douglas who died here in 1400 and was succeeded by his son, also Archibald, 4th Earl of Douglas, who married the eldest daughter of Robert III, Princess Margaret. He was killed while fighting for the French against the English at the Battle of Verneuil in 1424. The Princess Margaret continued living at Threave until her death around 1450.
Her granddaughter, also Margaret but better known as 'The Fair Maid of Norway', married William, 8th Earl of Douglas in 1444. The Earl was eighteen years old, his bride was eleven. This marriage was not for love but for political gain and power, for it re-united the Douglas estates. It was perhaps too much power, in 1450 the crown annexed the Douglas Earldom of Wigton, and two years later King James II, himself murdered William, the 8th Earl, at Stirling Castle. His widow, The Fair Maid of Norway then married his brother, James, 9th Earl of Douglas, whose quest to avenge the murder of his brother led to even more confrontation.


Note: Some confusion here surely!
Not Maid of Norway, but of galloway!


=(1) William, 8th Earl of Douglas

=(2) James, 9th Earl of Douglas

=(3) john Stewart, Earl of Atholl m1459

Born: ABT 1440

Acceded: 1357

Died: 15 Sep 1512

Father: James STEWART of Lorn (Sir)

Mother: Joan BEAUFORT (Queen of Scotland)


Married 2: Eleanor SINCLAIR


1. Elizabeth STUART (C. Lennox)


Reference: Crockett, Samuel Rutherford, Maid Margaret of Galloway. The life story of her whom four centuries have called "The fair maid of Galloway" (London, 1905)