Friday, May 23, 2008

Gubbed in the Garioch

The most widely used accounts of events have Robert mounting his horse, although he required the help of two men along side to hold him up, and leading his small army towards Oldmeldrum, and the Earl’s army.
What follows can hardly be dignified by the name “Battle”.
When informed by his scouts that the King was approaching the Earl, formed his men up in order of battle, with his better troops in the front rank, but when they saw the King coming on steadily with banners flying they started to waver. On seeing this, the King’s veterans pressed on sensing an easy victory, and so it was to prove. The front ranks continued to give way, and at this the rear ranks started to flee, and realising they were alone; the front rank broke and fled. What happened next was in line with other medieval battles where the victors fall upon the routed, and there is general slaughter, with huge casualty figures. Barbour tells us that only those with good horses got away. Of the leaders the Earl of Buchan and John de Moubray fled first to Fyvie castle and then to the coast to take ship to England, and David de Brechin south to his castle in Brechin.

Bot quhen thai saw the nobill king
Cum stoutly on foroutyn fenyeing
A litill on bridill thai thaim withdrew
And the king that rycht well knew
That thai war all discomfit ner
Pressyt on thaim with his baner
And thai withdrew mar and mar
And quhen the small folk thai had thar
Saw thar lordis withdraw them sua
Thai turnyt the bak all and to-ga
And fled all scalty her and thar
The lords that yeyt togydder war
Saw that thar small folk war fleand
And saw the king stoutly command
Thai war ilkane abaysit swa
That thai the bak gave and to-go
A litill stound samyn held thai
And syne ilk man has tane his way
Fell never men sa foule mischance
Eftre sa sturdy countenance
For quhen the kingis company
Saw that thai fled sa foulyly
Thai chasyt thaim with all thair mayn
And sum thai tuk and sum has slayn
The remanand war fleand ay,
Quha had gud hors gat best away
Till Ingland fled the erle of Bouchquhane
Shyr Jhon Mowbray is with him gane
And were reset with the king (Edward II)


But when they saw the noble king
Come bravely on without hesitation
They withdrew a little “on bridle”
And the king who well knew
That they were close to defeat
Pressed on them with his banner
They retreated more and more
And when the small folk they had there
Saw their lords pull back like that
They turned and fled
Scattering here and there
The lords who were still together
Saw their small folk were fleeing
And saw the king bravely coming
Were each so dismayed
That they turned tail and went
They kept together for a short while
Then each man took his own way
There was never so miserable an outcome
After such a sturdy display
For when the king’s company saw
That they fled so disorderly
They chased them with all their might
Took some and killed others
The rest kept on fleeing
[the man] with a good horse got away best
The earl of Buchan fled to England
Sir John Mowbray going with him
And they were given refuge by the king

Barbour’s The Brus – Lines 255 – 283

From the Canongate 1997 Edition: Edited by A.A.M. Duncan

The above is the “Official” Bruce/Stuart version of events as supplied by their “spin doctor” [Archdeacon Barbour], I will look at some other scenarios and what may be more fun, the legends, in later posts.

  1. I know that Oldmeldrum is no longer administrativly in the Garioch, but I felt the historic Garioch connection justifies the title, and Formartine does not quite have the same “ring” to it.

  2. For those non Scots speakers, some explanation of the title may be required:
    “Gubbed” is normally used to denote a humiliating defeat.
    Also the Garioch (pronounced Gee ree) is administratively centered on Inverurie, see wikipedia link for details.

1 comment:

Chauvin On said...

I received the following e-mail from John Pirie, who rightly pointed out that Oldmeldrum, had until recently been in the Garioch.
I apologise that my English let me down, and I did not clearly convey this fact.
I am changing the blog wording for the first NOTE,to be, I hope more accurate.


I notice you say on your site that Oldmeldrum is not in the Garioch.
Oldmeldrum always has been and always will be in the Garioch.
It just happens at present to lie within an Aberdeenshire Council administrative
area which uses the Formartine name. This only for the past twelve or so years.
Regards, J D P"

Also there is the following infromation on the Oldmeldrum Community Web Site"

"Oldmeldrum was created a burgh of barony in 1672 and was the main burgh of the medieval lordship of Garioch until the 19th century when it was superseded by Inverurie five miles south. Known mostly as simply "Meldrum", its narrow streets reflect the irregular plan of the old medieval market town which is centred around the Market Square with its fine Town Hall of 1877. A centre of the hosiery trade in the 18th century, Oldmeldrum parish church dates from 1684. However, nearby to the south lies the ancient Iron Age fort on Barra Hill."

For more Oldmeldrum information follow this link: