Battle of Largs
Battle of Largs
2nd October 1263
Name: Battle of Largs
Date: 2 October 1263
War period: Medieval
Start time and Duration: Unknown
Outcome: Scottish victory
Armies and losses: Scots: 1500 mounted men at arms, according to the Norse accounts, though this is dubious; Norse: uncertain. Claims of 25,000 Norse dead are likely to be spurious
Location: Unlocated within the vicinity of Largs
Map details: OS Explorer Map 341; OS Landranger map 63
After beaching near Largs, a Norse force was defeated by a Scottish army.
Despite the Scots victory at Renfrew in 1164, and several campaigns by Scottish kings to conquer the territory, the Norse had retained control of the Isles and Argyll. There they maintained their rule in a semi-autonomous fashion under the overlordship of the kings of Norway. In response to the continued pressure from the Scots, the king of Norway mounted a pre-emptive attack to secure Norse control of the territory. In July 1263 King Haco is said to have sailed from Bergen with 200 ships. In the Hebrides he was joined by the King of Man with additional forces. From there they sailed down the coast of Scotland, raiding the mainland. Initial negotiations were opened but this time was used by the Scots to buy time to raise their forces. Then, in a storm, some of the Norse ships were beached at Largs and an armed engagement began. This forced Haco to land his main force in disadvantageous circumstances on a difficult coast.
Little is known of the detail of the action, which soon escalated into full battle, but it seems that the Norse were never able to form up fully in battle array before they were engaged. The arrival of Scottish reinforcements may finally have turned the tide of the action, forcing the Norse army to break. It is said that they were then pursued with great slaughter, with most fleeing to their boats.
A REPORT ON LARGS, PREPARED FOR HISTORIC SCOTLAND BY THE BATTLEFIELDS TRUST, IS AVAILABLE FROM THE DOWNLOAD AREA ON THE LEFT