by James E. Fargo, FSA Scot

In September 1335, Sir Andrew Murray, was appointed a Guardian of Scotland. He was the son of the Scottish patriot Andrew Murray who with William Wallace had led the victorious Scottish forces that defeated the English at Stirling Bridge on September 11, 1297 and been mortally wounded during the battle.

In November 1335, Murray led an army of about 1,100 men north along the eastern coast against the pro-English forces led by the titular Earl of Atholl, David of Strathbogie. Murray was a supporter of King Robert the Bruce’s young son King David II. Strathbogie was a supporter of Edward Balliol, son of the former King John Balliol, who had the military support of King Edward III of England. Strathbogie, who had been appointed commander of the English forces in the north of Scotland, had laid siege to Kildrummy Castle in Aberdeenshire with an army of about 3,000 men. The castle was held by Lady Christina Bruce, wife of Sir Andrew Murray in the name of King David II. Warned of Murray’s approaching army to relieve the siege, Strathbogie moved south to intercept Murray at the forest of Culblean. On Saint Andrew’s day, November 30, 1335, Murray split his army into two units. The frontal unit led by Sir William Douglas of Liddesdale blocked Strathbogie’s southern march. Strathbogie’s men attacked Douglas’ smaller force and once committed, Murray’s men attacked the exposed flank and the English forces broke.. Strathbogie was killed in a last stand along with his Comyn allies.

Although a relatively small battle, its significance was that it cleared the English from northern Scotland and effectively ended Balliol/Comyn family hopes of regaining the Scottish throne. In addition it removed the Strathbogie earls from Atholl and Douglas of Liddesdale was granted the vacant earldom of Atholl in 1341 by King David II. On Douglas’ death without a male heir in August 1353, the earldom again reverted to the Crown. The earldom was then granted to Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany and third son of King Robert II.

Cowan, Samuel, "Three Celtic Earldoms", Edinburgh, 1909, pp. 19-22
Fisher, Andrew, "William Wallace", Edinburgh, 2002, p. 116
National Trust for Scotland, "Bannockburn", 1987, p. 27
Robertson, James, "Chiefs of Clan Donnachaidh 1275-1749", Perth, 1929, p. 42