Late in the summer of 1263 King Haakon IV of Norway sailed into the Firth of Clyde in his great
ship with its gilded dragon's head. He ruled over all the Scottish islands and had come, with a
huge fleet, to add Bute and the Cumbraes to his kingdom. The Norwegian ships anchored in the
sheltered channel between the Great Cumbrae and Largs. As winter drew near there were fierce
storms. Several ships were blown ashore and on 2nd October a Norwegian force was landed to cover
attempts to refloat them. The Scots resisted and eventually forced the Norwegians back to their
ships. Haakon's fleet, damaged by the storms, sailed home to the Orkneys.
The Battle of Largs was the last Norse raid on the mainland of Scotland. Their victory allowed
the Scots to regain control of the western islands. Enmity between Scotland and Norway was ended
by a royal marriage as a result of which Haakon's great-grand-daughter succeeded to the Scottish
Crown in 1286. The child is known in Scottish history as the Maid of Norway and her untimely death
caused the disputed succession which led to the War of Scottish Independence.
Walk along the shore to Bowen Craig. In 1912 this Battle of Largs Memorial was erected here by
public subscription on the traditional site of the fighting. The design was based on ancient
round towers which were thought at that time to have been lookout posts against Norse raids.
Members of Largs Historical Society at Kirkgate House in Manse Court will gladly tell you more
about the Battle or any other aspects of the history of Largs.
Kirkgate House is open to the public from 2.30 to 5 p.m. daily, except Sundays, from June to
The Festival is in the first week of September this year,
from Saturday 1st September 2001 thru the 8th,
ending with the Viking Battle and fireworks.