The battle of Dunbar was recreated in the town this week so it was an obvious choice for a writing prompt. What an excuse for some fighting talk.
Dunbar, What Battle?
Scotland has a bit of a reputation when it comes to fighting. In the 1980’s Glasgow was one of the top ten most violent cities in the world. It was number two in western Europe and top of the UK Charts. At the height of the Northern Ireland troubles when bombings and shootings were an everyday occurrence in the provinces, the murder rate in Glasgow was still significantly higher than those investigated by the RUC. More people died in the carnage of normal west coast life, in a single year, than did English men in the combined battles of Dunbar in both 1296 and 1650. Glasgow was an embarrassment to its peaceful east coast neighbours who looked down their noses at their violent western counterparts. They were stupid mindless morons who slaughtered each other in the name of religion in a violent society which tarnished the good name of Scotland.
Glasgow warfare was infamous but then again very few people invaded Glasgow and the only time we really saw their armies in action was on the football terraces. Barcelona 1972, Aston Villa 1976, Manchester 2003 to name but a few. All these events were the source of more embarrassment for their east coast neighbours. Violence was a pointless pastime for uneducated savages who lived in the West.
Still it wasn’t a pointless pastime for the English in 1296 when Scotland’s King John who was enjoying a typical East coast, cultural life, sitting in his Edinburgh Castle, dreaming up festivals and indulging in too much French cuisine pissed off his English neighbours. They came storming across the border sacked Berwick and trounced the Scottish Cavalry at Dunbar without a single casualty. King John ran away leaving the janitor to hand over the keys to Edinburgh Castle and amongst other things the English blagged the stone of destiny. Maybe if the east coasters had spent a bit more time fighting amongst themselves instead of doing all the arty, farty Stuff they could have stopped the big boy from taking their castle. Coincidently on the west coast around this time a young boy from Elderslie, where I was born, gave the same big English boy a bloody nose. No bullies were taking Wullie Wallace’s castle without a fight.
The big boys went nowhere near Glasgow because they knew what to expect. Look what happened when a real team of hard men from the Viking territories tried it in 1164. 15,000 big hairy arsed Vikings tried to take King Malcolm’s (my name coincidently) castle and he kicked their arses at the battle of Renfrew.
Did the east coasters learn? No they got their knickers in a twist over religion. Seriously folks, leave that to the west coasters. If you’re going to fight over religion you have to learn to fight first. Another big boy and you bottled it again. History decrees you had 12,000 men and would have had even more if the Kirk hadn’t got excited about non covenanters fighting and turned away all the nutters from the West. Well we all know what happened. Oliver Cromwell, a big bad Englishman, took your castle once more. Battle of Dunbar. It was a rout. It was an embarrassment to the whole of Scotland. Just like before, you ran away. Between 800-3000 East coasters dead, thousands captured and all for the loss of 30 Englishmen. You probably had to cancel the festival that year too. No castle, no culture venue and all that.
So let’s think about this. Who really was Scotland’s biggest embarrassment. Wee neds from places like Elderslie, with names like Malky, who wouldn’t give an inch or Festival loving intellectuals from the East who ran away at the first sign of trouble and lost a hell of a lot more than a festival venue.