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Battles of Loudoun Hill, 1296 and 1307











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A few miles from Kilmarnock, near the village of Darvel, stands Loudoun Hill. This imposing volcanic plug offers the best vantage point across the Irvine Valley and as such has always provided a strong strategic advantage. Near the bottom of the south-east slope is the remains of an Iron Age fort or homestead and nearby at Allanton Beg is evidence of another fort built by the Romans during the Flavian period.


Loudoun Hill marks the eastern end of the Irvine Valley. From its summit there is an extensive view over Ayrshire to the Firth of Clyde and Arran. The hill has witnessed the passage of history from the earliest times.

Sir William Wallace defeated an English force at Loudoun Hill in 1296 and King Robert the Bruce inflicted greater punishment on the English in 1307.

A number of places in Loudoun and Galston parishes are associated with William Wallace, but Blind Harry in his epic poem “The Wallace” tells the story of Wallace’s ambush of the English at Loudoun Hill. The poem also tells how somewhere within the parish a hospitable innkeeper supplied the party of Scots as they prepared to intercept a convoy on route westward to Ayr.

The actual battlesite was probably at the eastern entrance to the narrow pass known as the Winny Wizzen, it's strategic position at the head of the valley meant it was often passed by armies making their way inland or out to the coast.

Wallace concealed his men behind the banks and ditches of the long abandoned Roman fort. The poem tells how the Scots made the way even narrower with the construction of stone dykes, making more effective the attack on the tightly packed riders.

Wallace had only 50 men against 200 enemy soldiers but still managed to win the day, killing over 100 English troops including Fenwick (the English general who had killed Wallace’s father), the rest scattered and the baggage train, with all the supplies including a large amount of useful armour, weapons and horses intended to relieve the garrison at Ayr, now fell into Scottish hands.

A point marked on maps as Wallace’s Grave is traditionally believed to be the place where the English dead were buried. Wallace was declared an outlaw after the Battle of Loudoun Hill but pressed on to his great victory at Stirling Bridge the following year.

September 2004 saw the unveiling of the "Spirit of Scotland" statue - to recognise the historical significance of the area during the Scottish Wars of Independence.


A large Conventicle (outdoor religious service) held in the vicinity in 1679 led on to the humiliation of Claverhouse by the covenanters at the battle of Drumclog.



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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024