- Battle of Langside

The Scotland Guide
© David Williams


The Battle of Langside was fought in 1568 between the forces of Mary, Queen of Scots and those of the Regent Moray.

Moray was based in Glasgow while Mary had come from Hamilton via the southern bank of the River Clyde. Moray managed to position his troops on Langside Hill, while Mary`s troops were on the lesser Clincart Hill (now the site of Langside College),1km (½ mile) to the east. Mary herself watched from Cathcart Hill at a place now known as Court Knowe. After an unsuccessful cavalry charge, Mary`s foot soldiers approached Langside Hill up what is now Battlefield Road, but they were met by gunfire as well as other forces coming down from the site of Pathhead Farm. Between these two wings of Moray`s forces, archers and then the cavalry attacked the oncoming army. One hundred of Mary`s men were killed and her army fled; the battle had only taken three quarters of an hour. Mary turned southwards and headed into England.

The lion at the top of the memorial rests his paw on a cannonball and faces Clincart Hill where the forces of Mary, Queen of Scots were positioned. Just below the lion are badges with thistles or lions on them. Next down, the tall ornate column is decorated with a spiral design of thistles, roses and fleur-de-lis. Below this are eight carvings; each alternate carving has a targe (a shield) with crossed swords, and the four others have a cannon, a set of bagpipes, a targe with a variety of battle weapons, and an iron helmet with a crossed sword and axe. The four eagles at the corners of the monument`s plinth are preparing to fly. When being built, plans of the monument, a copy of The Abbot (by Sir Walter Scott, 1820), and newspapers and coins of the day were placed under the structure.

The 18m (58 feet) tall Langside Battlefield Memorial (1887-8, Alexander Skirving) marks the site of Glasgow`s most important military encounter. A plaque explains that the battle of Langside was fought on this ground on 13 May 1568 between the forces of Mary Queen of Scots and the Regent Moray, and marked the queen`s final defeat in Scotland.

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