Talk:Battle of Harlaw

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This article seriously needs to be rewritten. It is misleading in its emphasis on supposed ethnicity/language divide of the forces and the outcome of the battle to say the least. If nobody else gets round to it il rewrite it as soon as i have time ( post may 26th most likely ). An Siarach 11:33, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

This may not be the best piece I have ever seen on the Battle of Harlaw, but I don't think it demonstrates any significant bias. I doubt very much if contemporaries would have seen it as a 'clash of cultures', but one side certainly consisted mostly of Gaelic speaking Highlanders (and Islanders) and the other of English speaking Lowlanders. I'm not convinced, though, by the contention that a victory for Donald would have altered the course of Scottish history. Donald's aim was to sieze the earldom of Ross, and it is debatable if he would have done much more than that. In any case, it was later to pass peaceably enough to his son, Alexander. Rcpaterson 01:34, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Almost nothing was the same in the Highlands as far society, culture, and politics is concerned. If anything, this article doesn't say enough about the differences, even though they're mostly beyond the scope. It should be left as it is. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:22, 15 May 2009 (UTC)


Also shouldn't "well armed mounted chivalry" under the "Battle" heading be "well-armed cavalry" or "well armed cavalry"(mounted implied in the word cavalry). 23:42, 3 March 2007 (UTC)


I've proposed merging in Battle of Dingwall - the "Background" and "Aftermath" sections are going to be the same as here, and there's probably a paragraph at most to be extracted from Gordon about what happened and the Mackay-specific stuff. Le Deluge (talk) 12:31, 16 April 2009 (UTC)

I don't think the articles should be merged. The Battle of Dingwall and the Battle of Harlaw were two seperate and different battles. The battle at Dingwall did lead on to that at Harlaw and there is not all that much to say about the Battle of Dingwall. But, at the end of the day the were two seperate battles and should be kept as seperate articles. Although it might be worth mentioning Dingwall in the Harlaw article. QuintusPetillius (talk) 10:28, 19 April 2009 (UTC)
I think the Battle of Dingwall should be kept on a seperate page. Its a seperate battle and deserves a seperate article. (talk) 15:07, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Aren't you User:QuintusPetillius?--Celtus (talk) 08:20, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
It doesn't matter whether something was "seperate" (sic - what a coincidence our anon IP makes the same spelling mistakes) - what matters is giving our readers the best articles we can. Almost nothing is known of the facts of Dingwall, and that article is never going to amount to much except for the background and aftermath sections - which are duplicated here. Rather than have two articles out of sync, our readers are better served by a single article covering the whole campaign, just like we don't have a separate article for the burning of Inverness in 1429 before the Battle of Lochaber. Hopefully now I've rewritten this article, it's a more attractive merger candidate - there's just very little that could go in the Dingwall article that isn't already here. Le Deluge (talk) 00:23, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
Since both of the conflicts are covered it definitely looks like the two should be merged.--Celtus (talk) 07:59, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
Just for the record, this is my IP. QuintusPetillius. (talk) 18:05, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
You've got a couple others too: 21 Feb 2008 and 28 Jul 2008. Coincidently, Mjgm84/Psycotics1454 had and [1].--Celtus (talk) 08:04, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Since Celtus is the de facto "chief" :-) of the Clans project that's a vote I put a lot of weight on - and noone has actually managed to add meaningful content to the Dingwall article since I proposed the merger, so I think the time has come to do it. Will happen in the next few days. Le Deluge (talk) 12:36, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

Photo requests[edit]

The pic of Bennachie was the best I could find on Geograph to give an idea of the terrain. Ideally we want a pic from the B9001 around East Harlaw looking west towards Harlaw House and Bennachie, and then a pic looking east across the river and the battlefield from the west bank of the river above the A96 - either up Gallows Hill (the 177m one by Harlaw bridge) or right up Bennachie. The Battlefields Trust map gives a reasonable idea of where you want to take photos of, although if the human remains at grid reference NJ75202504 are a better indication of the centre of the fight, you want to be a bit further north, east of Harlaw House. It'd be nice to get one that gave a better sense of the setting of the monument too, although with some landscape pics that would maybe be less pressing. And a pic of Davidson's armour in Aberdeen Town House would be good, to give a better sense of what the clansmen were up against. Le Deluge (talk) 00:23, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

Good article?[edit]

I didn't really mean to rewrite the article,:-) but I want to take it towards WP:GA and the process of referencing everything just led to the rewrite. Hopefully I haven't upset too many people <g> - I am aware of the potential for disagreement on this kind of stuff and I've tried hard to keep it balanced. I suspect some people will think I've put too much weight on viewing it as part of a series of east-west conflicts, but I think it's a counterbalance to putting too much weight on the north-south thing. On the other hand you can't ignore the "second Bannockburn" people like Hill Burton, they need to be acknowledged but not given WP:UNDUE importance. I'd like to take the article to WP:GAN in the next few weeks if possible, it'd be great to have it through the process by the anniversary. Le Deluge (talk) 00:23, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

It wasn't really a battle between east and west any more than it was between north and south. Domhnall and Albany were both largely independent rulers, and the former and his ancestors had held the title King of the Hebrides (although not Lord of the Isles) without being given it by the Scottish kings. There were cultural differences between the two armies, but that was not the reason for the battle.

We can assume, though, that the Gaels of the Lowlands thought otherwise, and it's their chroniclers and poets that that idea of the battle comes from. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:45, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

I was more thinking in the "narrow" sense rather than any particular "clash of civilisations" sense, more just trying to get away from the Highlands vs Lowlands thing which is how it's usually cast. Short term it was just two leaders spoiling for a scrap, but if you believe the English alliance theory then it does become a bit bigger than that. Le Deluge (talk) 12:36, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

Battle of Dingwall section[edit]

Just thought I'd point out an historical error in the battle of Dingwall section; It says they fought with men from "Sutherland". The Mackays were actually from "Strathnaver" which during the times of the clans was seperate from Sutherland. So I am going to change this. QuintusPetillius (talk) 18:16, 30 June 2009 (UTC) True - but the north of modern-day Sutherland is a more meaningful description to modern-day readers than Strathnaver, which back in those days meant an area of which modern Strathnaver was just a small part, the Mackays stretched from the Brora to the west coast. Perhaps the Reay Country is the least ambiguous description, but won't mean much to the average Wikireader. Le Deluge (talk) 12:36, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

Bloodiest between Scots?[edit]

Tom Steel says in Scotland's Story (HarperCollins, 1994, p 62, l 5):"The battle was the bloodiest ever fought between Scots." I think that if this statement is correct, it should be mentioned in the article, but can it be verified by another source? (Or, alternatively, proved wrong?) --Duncan MacCall (talk) 11:36, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

Yuk. I know what you're trying to say, but it's one of those horribly woolly phrases that doesn't really belong in an encylopedia. Does "bloodiest" mean most pints of blood shed? If you mean highest casualties then say so, whether deaths or combined dead and injured - except of course we don't have any reliable sources (in the historical sense rather than the wiki sense) for what they were. There again, there might have been bigger battles in earlier times where the casualties are not known - if the Caledonians put up 30,000 troops against the Romans at Mons Graupius as per Tacitus, then they could easily have had battles among themselves with 10,000 on each side. And you're also getting into the murky area of whether the Lords of the Isles identified themselves as Scots - almost certainly not, they would have viewed it as more like Culloden, a "foreign" leader invading with a mix of foreign and local troops. If you assume the killing was in proportion to the composition of the armies, more Scots were killed by Scots at Culloden than at Harlaw. In fact if you define "Scotland" as the territory ruled by Edinburgh, you could argue that neither army at Harlaw came from "Scotland", nor was the battle fought in "Scotland". It's maybe an extreme point of view, but it's one way of thinking about it. So you could perhaps say "if you believe the ballads, Harlaw saw the most casualties recorded in a battle in modern-day Scotland not involving the English or Romans". Which is a lot less elegant than your version, but more accurate.... PS I'll merge in Dingwall and nominate the article for GA in the next few days now that it's had time to prove its "stability". Le Deluge (talk) 12:36, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

All Gaels?[edit]

Were the lowlanders really "English-speaking Gaels" or were they not descended from Anglo-Saxon influenced peoples? Considering that they spoke English(or Scots) at this early time would seem to indicate that they were not Gaels at all. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:42, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

I too am confused by this term "English speaking Gaels". Surely what defined a Gael at this time was that he spoke Gaelic? I am inclined to remove this sentence if it can't be explained what this term actually means.--AMacR (talk) 16:19, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

Wrong references?[edit]

I may be wrong but the reference that I just added in ‘Conmemoration and archaeology’ appears in the article as 59. However, in the ‘Note and reference‘ section it appears as 45. Is this a mistake?--Byblios (talk) 21:20, 13 April 2012 (UTC)Byblios

Over two years later I found a similar problem with some different references. I have corrected a syntax error – a template transclusion without the closing }} – which I think has corrected the problem. Thincat (talk) 18:36, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

Bludie Harlaw[edit]

I have the very recently published Olson, Ian A. (2014). Bludie Harlaw : Realities, Myths, Ballads. Edinburgh: John Donald. ISBN 9781906566760.  from the library and I find it very impressive. The author, a retired medic with an honorary degree from Aberdeen University for "medical and ethnological research", has not so much to say about the battle until he reaches his concluding chapter but devotes himself mainly to analysing the various sources down through the centuries. Pleasingly, the present article here seems to reach the same general conclusions but when it quotes earlier historians it (properly) has to be careful to leave things up to the reader to decide between them. By referring to this book it would be possible to take a firmer line. However, I don't feel qualified to develop the current article but perhaps someone else will do this. Thincat (talk) 20:08, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

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