In the early medieval period, the Cumbraes were Norwegian-controlled islands. They were part of the Sundrays, Southern Islands, contained in the kingdom of Man and the Western Isles. Scotland's young king, Alexander III wanted this kingdom to be part of Scotland. He began a series of raids in Skye and other islands to provoke a response.
In the autumn of 1263, King Hakon VI of Norway led an armada of up to 200 ships and 20,000 men to challenge Scotland's Alexander. Scotland's knights would have watched from Ardrossan as the fleet moved up the Clyde to shelter in Lamlash Bay. Then from Ardneil they watched Hakon sail up to anchor off the Cumbrae Isles.
Battle was engaged on the shores of Kelburn. Due to bad weather the Norwegians couldn't land all their men and were overcome by Alexander's 500 knights and 7,000 foot soldiers.
Hakon withdrew with the intent to return next year after the winter with a larger force but died at Kirkwall in the Orkneys. His son, Magnus IV, was a peacemaker with his neighbours and in three years Scotland regained the Western Isles by the Treaty of Perth.
Battle of Largs Monument
This was built at Bowen Craig in 1912 to a design by James Sandford Kay. It was constructed by local builder John Hunter and cost £298 which was raised by public subscription. Soon it became known as the Pencil due to its shape - originally it was meant to look like a broch. Some thought this nickname vulgar but it has remained and is how the monument is universally referred as.
Walking out to the Pencil from Largs became very popular and in 1949 Largs Town Council bought the pathway and surrounding land. Over the winter the Parks Department landscaped the area at the Pencil and built the four stone seats and rustic pathway using stone from the shore.
Back to the Largs Trail