Battle of Roslin

On this day in Scottish History

battle of roslin
English cavalry clashing with Scottish infantry

On the 24th February 1303, at the Battle of Roslin, south of Edinburgh, a Scottish force under the command of John ‘the Red’ Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, and Sir Simon Fraser defeat an English army under the command of Sir John Segrave.

The Scottish historians John of Fordun and Abbot Walter Bower wrote wildly exaggerated accounts of the battle, with Fordun claiming that it was the bloodiest battle ever to be fought in Scotland, with casualties of over 30,000. This can be discounted. The numbers involved in the military engagement at Roslin probably did not exceed 20-25,000 in total.

As Historic Environment Scotland (HES) noted in their summary of the battle: “The earliest accounts seem to offer unrealistically high numbers, especially for the English army. This inflation is likely to be nothing more than pro-Scottish propaganda geared toward glorifying the scale of the victory, but nevertheless this should be remembered when considering the numbers involved. There may, however, also be a case for believing that the battle is actually somewhat under-represented in the Scottish chronicles as the Bruce faction sought to play down the achievements of John Comyn – Robert the Bruce being involved in his murder in 1306.”

On 10th February 1306, John Comyn would be killed by Robert the Bruce and his supporters in Greyfriars Church in Dumfries.

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