Hotspot in Glasgow’s history: Langside battlefield monument dedicated to Mary Queen of Scots

The year was 1568. Mary Queen of Scots, once adored and now disgraced, had escaped from her prison cell, gathered an army and marched to Langside Hill to face the troops of her half-brother, the Scottish Regent Moray.

Mary had annoyed Scottish Protestant leaders after her scandalous marriage to Lord Darnley, followed by her disastrous union with one of Darnley’s murder suspects, the Earl of Bothwell.

She had been imprisoned in Lochleven Castle after being forced to abdicate in favor of her son, the future James VI and me.

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But it would be in Glasgow that his devastating fate would be sealed once and for all. The Battle of Langside was reportedly over in less than an hour, with Moray’s reinforcements killing around 300 of Mary’s men.

The monument in 2007. Copyright: Newsquest.

The fallen queen watched from Cathcart Hill as her army was defeated, then fled to England where she would be held captive by her cousin Elizabeth I until her execution in February 1587.

Marking Mary’s final defeat in Scotland, the Battle of Langside is now remembered with a 58ft memorial at the junction of Langside Avenue and Battlefield Road, where Mary’s army of 6,000 was challenged.

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Erected 300 years after his death, the memorial was designed by Alexander Skirving, a friend of Alexander the Greek Thomson who beat eleven other architects for the contract.

Glasgow sculptor James Young created the design of the lion sitting atop the pillar with its paw splayed across a cannonball.

Four eagles point the corners of the monument, while elaborate carvings of thistles, roses and fleur-de-lis symbolize Mary’s time in Scotland, England and France.

Glasgow Times: The monument in 2007. Copyright: Newsquest.The monument in 2007. Copyright: Newsquest.

The base of the monument could be described as a sort of time capsule, as planning documents are buried there along with a copy of Walter Scott’s historical novel from 1820. the abbot which features the battle, and historical newspapers and coins from the time were buried under the structure.

At the base of the memorial a plaque reads: ‘The Battle of Langside was fought on this ground on 13th May 1568 between the forces of Mary Queen of Scots and Regent Moray and marked the Queen’s final defeat in Scotland.”

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