Battle of Falkirk, 22nd July 1298
This is the grave if Sir John Stewart of Bonkyll who died a hero’s death in the Battle of Falkirk where he had fought alongside Sir John de Graeme (buried a few metres away) and William Wallace who never got a burial at all.
Sir John commanded the Scottish Archers that came from his wife’s side, from Bute.
He had been a powerful man. The son of the High Stewart of Scotland fatherd many children and through them important Scottish lines: Lords of Lorne, Earls of Atholl, Earls of Buchan, Earls of Traquair, the Clan Stewart of Appin, the Earls of Lennox, James VI and I and through him the present royal family of the United Kingdom.
Three of his sons died in the Second War of Scottish Independence at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333.
Battle of Falkirk, 17th January 1746
This second Battle of Falkirk, also known as the Battle of Falkirk Muir was probably one of the shortest battles in the history of Scotland and in many other aspects a very different story.
Charles Edward Stuart had been on the retreat from England going back North. New musters reinforced his army as soon as he crossed the border to Scotland till it reached about 8.000 men. The English General Hawley came from Newcastle with about the same amount of men to relieve the besieged Stirling castle. He expected the Scots to wait for him there. Instead they surprised him just outside Callendar House in Falkirk. The battle was quick muddy and had few casualties on the Scottish side. 50 died, one of them was young Glengarry.
The young chief Angus MacDonnell died the day after the battle after a Clanranald man fired a captured musket on the upper floor of a house to clear it from an inserted ball without thinking that the second barrel was loaded with real ammunition. He, thinking the shot was harmless, had aimed at a group standing in the street and killed young Glengarry.
Young Glengarry, who commanded the regiment for his father, did not want retribution, instead he begged before he died to spare the lad. But his kinsmen (over 600 of them had joined the young Prince) the McDonells of Glengarry and the offender’s own Clanranald wanted justice. He was judged and executed by a firing squad of his own clan, including his father.
There were more casualties on the Hanoverian side at the Battle of Falkirk Muir, around 350. The troops retreated to Linlithgow while the victorious Charles Edward Stuart recovered from a cold and then instead of pursuing Hawley, resumed the siege of Stirling.
The gloom of Glengarry’s tragic death and his killer’s execution did not seem to leave him and his luck in battle had now run out.
Young Glengarry was buried in the sarcophagus of Sir John de Graeme.
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Scotland is a country full of history, stories and secrets. Often, the three cannot be separated. That is what makes this country so wonderful and unique. The stories of this book have been discovered and gathered for Erkenbach’s blog, Graveyards of Scotland, over many years.
Her main sources were historical travel guides from the 18th and 19th centuries, where the finds were scary, beautiful, funny, and sometimes, cruel.This unusual approach to a country’s history has produced amazing results. You don’t have to share the author’s passion for cemeteries to enjoy this book; only a small number of the stories in this collection take place in graveyards, though they do all end in them, so perhaps it helps.
The fairy hill in Inverness, a nitrate murder on Shetland, a family of left-handers, wolves, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace shown in a new light, the secret bay of the writer Gavin Maxwell, a murdering poet and so many things you didn’t know about Scotland, its clans and its history.
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