Battle of Largs

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The Battle of Largs (1263) was a decisive moment in the struggle between the Scots and the Norse for control of the Gaelic Western Isles of what is now Scotland during the rein of Alexander III (1249 -1286). (Largs itself is on the Firth of Clyde, opposite the Isle of Arran.) The engagement itself was inconclusive; but the Norwegian ships of King Haakon were wrecked in a storm. The event marked the end of Norse claims to govern Western Scotland: consequently the scale of the battle, involving only a few hundred soldiers, has been greatly exaggerated.

It has also given rise to the legendary cause of the use of the thistle as an emblem of the country.

John A. Duncan of Sketraw, KCN, FSA Scot. says: "Legend has it that an Army of King Haakon of Norway, intent on conquering the Scots, landed at the Coast of Largs at night to surprise the sleeping Scottish Clansmen. In order to move more stealthily under the cover of darkness the Norsemen removed their footwear. As they drew near to the Scots it wasn't the only thing hiding under the cover of darkness. For one of Haakon's men unfortunately stood on one of these spiny little defenders and shrieked out in pain, alerting the Clansmen of the advancing Norsemen. Needless to say the Scots who won the day."